Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force
Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918
[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 209.]
Part 7 - The Pasha Units on the Southern Front
The Palestine front finally received the long awaited reinforcement in the beginning of March when Captain Maierdirch arrived with 16 experienced fighter pilots and 8 brand new Albatros D.V's. They were formed into JASTA 2. Unfortunately the aircraft were too new as the design had not yet properly been tested and during their first flights in Palestine two aircraft lost their wings, killing their pilots. Consequently the new JASTA was absorbed into JASTA 1 in which 6 of the old Albatros D.III's remained. During the next 3 months this unit tallied an impressive score of 14 enemy aircraft and 3 balloons.
The "Kommandeur der Flieger" of the Yildirim Army, Major Heemskerck was relieved by Major Weyert in late March and upon his return to Germany he managed to ship 12 new modern reconnaissance aircraft to  Palestine with the utmost haste. These aircraft, four Rumpler C.IV and 8 LVG C.IV's were readied at the new Aircraft Park at Rayak in mid April. Three Rumplers and 2 LVG's were issued to FA304(b) for the vital long-range reconnaissance task, one Rumpler and 2 LVG's went to FA303 and two LVG's went to each of FA301 and FA302. Unofficially, FA300 had been disbanded after all its aircraft had been lost. Its Commanding Officer began acting as liaison officer to the 7th Army and most of the pilots serving as fighter pilots in other FA groups.
During February and March the German Pasha units, FA301 to FA304(b), once more succeeded in helping to contain British attacks in the Nablus area and their artillery spotting proved particularly effective. Bad weather prevented large scale operations and it was not until April, when fortunately new equipment had been received, that fighting on the southern front was stepped up. Then in late April more than 22 airworthy reconnaissance aircraft and 6 fighters were available after a month which had seen 7 large air-battles, 39 short-range and 10 long-range reconnaissance missions and 22 fighter sorties.
On 22 April, a Nieuport fighter was shot down and further on 25 April, two aircraft and a balloon were downed by JASTA 1. A second balloon was destroyed on 28 April.
The air-battles continued in May and 3 British aircraft were claimed shot down on the 4th, 11th and 15th May respectively, as well as two balloons destroyed on 9 and 10 May. Between the 23rd and 29th of May, before and during the British attack over Jordan, ground fire accounted for downing of additional 5 aircraft and one balloon.
Map of air activities covered by this extract
[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 188.]
[Click on map for larger version.]
The German units however were also receiving grave losses and between January and June, they being 39 pilots and observers killed and 20 wounded.
During these months the surviving AEG's were finally relegated to bombing missions only as they were totally outclassed by the Bristol Fighters used by the British. In fact only the 4 Rumpler C.IV's had a speed that made them able to evade the enemy. During May these four machines managed to take 2,500 photographs over enemy lines and even strayed as far as Beersheba. At the end of May, JASTA 1 was left with only 3 fighters after the unsuccessful move to Amman. [See: A Fight against Rising Odds.] Fortunately this situation eased when 8 Albatrosses were received in June. In addition, 6 D.V's were modified to D.Va's and 2 repaired D.III's became available.
From August onwards the RAF squadrons naturally enough dominated the skies. Where the German aircraft in the first week of June could mount 100 sorties only 18 were flown in the last week of August and every one of these was challenged and attacked, being pursued down to ground level or destruction. Even as the Aircraft Park at Rayak managed to repair many of the damaged aircraft and started to issue the newly received replacements it was futile because between the 1st of June and the 19th of September 59 aircrew members were killed, wounded or taken prisoners. The standard farewell greeting of pilots taking off on a mission became in this period: Wiedersehen im Heliopolis, [“See you at Heliopolis.” See: Turkish Prisoners in Egypt - Heliopolis Camp] referring to the British prisoner-of-war camp in Egypt.
The units continued to receive new or repaired aircraft, but to no avail as FA301 alone lost an aircraft on 3 August, another on the 16th and two on the 28th and 31st respectively. FA304(b) lost one of its valuable Rumplers on 10 August. When JASTA 1 started to get its new Pfalz D.III fighters only 4 experienced fighter pilots were alive. Shortly after, on 24 August, when two Pfalz's were attacked by the ubiquitous Bristol Fighters, one was shot down in flames whereas Lieutenant Walter in the other was badly hit. He tried to escape with the help of his parachute, but it failed to open. This was the first recorded use of a parachute in Palestine. 
On 1 September 1918, a total force of 8 reconnaissance and 5 fighter aircraft were available to the Pasha units, but only 4 sorties ware flown up to the 15th of the month.
Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919. The Pasha Units on the Southern Front comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 191-5. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.
Further Reading:Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917
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Citation: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front