"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre aims to present an accurate history as chroniclers of early Australian military developments from 1899 to 1920.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre site holds over 12,000 entries and is growing daily.
WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.
Sunday, 25 May 2008
The Great War, Propaganda, Using Turkish Troops for Propaganda Purposes 2 Topic: GW - Propaganda
The Great War
Using Turkish Troops for Propaganda Purposes 2
Propaganda leaflet dropped by air, late 1917.
To further illustrate the use of Turkish prisoners for British Propaganda purposes, here is another example.
The note basically says: Come on over fellows, I am having a great time being a POW.
This picture also demonstrates another issue. The lack of care in presentation of the subject. In this picture, the photographer made a classic error. I am not sure if it was intentional but it stands out like a wart and was sure to be picked up by the viewer.
Bear in mind that the written portion of this propaganda sheet was meant for a confined audience. The bulk of the readers were illiterate and thus the picture was the key source of the information. If the Allies got the picture wrong then the whole effect was destroyed.
This pic is taken in a wonderful bucolic setting to illustrate the luxurious life in an Egyptian POW camp. Flowing vines, comfort, clean clothes and a happy smile. These are all calculated to appeal to the heart strings of the average Mehmet who came from the peasantry. This was wealth beyond his personal belief and it was here for the taking and enjoyment, so long as he surrendered as a POW.
Now for the wart.
Enlargement of the first photograph.
Unfortunately standing close at hand was a British guard. Nothing like a dose of reality to spoil the image. This counters the previous message by saying - regardless of where you are in this camp, we will be watching you very carefully. For the poor Mehmet in the field, this was trading down from the Germans overlords to the British. Not much of a choice then.
There is little doubt that this sheet would have had any effect whatsoever except to raise the cynical smirk and then be used as toilet paper.
The Great War, Propaganda, Using Turkish Troops for Propaganda Purposes Topic: GW - Propaganda
The Great War
Using Turkish Troops for Propaganda Purposes
Propaganda leaflet dropped by air, late 1917.
There is no doubt that some of the more unseemly practices undertaken during the Great War led to the various conventions regarding the treatment of Prisoners of War, which we as a nation, adhere to through various treaties.
It is instructive to see the origins of these conventions.
One area of Allied propaganda was to exploit Turkish Prisoners of War for propaganda purposes. This was done ruthlessly by the Allied authorities.
After prisoners were captured, a select few would be given clean Egyptian Labour Corps uniforms complete with fez. Those who received the Turkish Gallipoli medal were still allowed to wear it on their uniform. These people were then given all the various paraphernalia attached to the good life as seen by the average Mehmet in the front line. Each person in the pic would "write" a note suggesting that thing were just dandy and their comrades should join them. The statement was then signed by the prisoner or if they were illiterate, a thumb print would be used.
After the photo shoot, thousands of the propaganda leaflets would be printed in their thousands on good quality highly bleached bonded paper of about 82gsm, a rarity in the war indicating to the Turks below that the Allies had money to burn. The air crews would then be assigned a trench sector and they would litter the area with paper. There was no quantitave study regarding the effectiveness of these exercises so no evidence exists as to the consequences of the constant barrage of this style of propaganda sapping morale or other reasons.
To illustrate the style of propaganda used, here is the first sample picture.
The comments signed by the men state the following:
We don't do anything but eat, drink and lie about, I am comfortable and in good health sir.
- Mehmed Haydar
We eat, drink, and lie about.
- Musa Ali
Not only am I comfortable, but they also look qfter me as my mother would.
- Abdurrahman Suleyman
I am in extraordinarily good health and comfortable, they look after me very well.
- Habib Receb
I eat, drink, and sit around sir.
- Mehmed Osman
My health is excellent and I not only am I comfortable, but we do not have any kind of difficulty whatsoever sir.
- Iskender Habib
I am quite comfortable, they look after me sir.
- Salih Mustafa
The things that jump out are:
1. There are seven men in this group photograph. You will notice that each person has written his own little piece and signed it.
2. For those struggling to see this, Ottoman Script is, like all Semitic Scripts, read from right to left. You will see a sentence, then a space and then some further words. These final words are in actuality the name of the POW. Those who were illiterate used a finger print to sign their name. Of course, next to their mark is their name.
3. On the left, you will see the man sitting down with Doumbek, a very common goblet like Turkish drum.
4. The next three fellows all are wearing what appears to be their Gallipoli medal indicating that they are seasoned veterans and definitely not cowards.
5. The fellow smoking the hookah pipe is illustrating that the life for the average Mehmet is far in excess of anything he could hope to endure in the army or even at their village. The use of the hookah is a symbol of wealth and leisure. The ordinary fellow in the field could only dream of sitting around smoking a hookah and shooting the breeze. And here, in a POW camp, everyone is able to smoke the hookah.
6. The fellow sitting to the extreme right is playing a Baglama Saz, again indicating wealth and leisure that is in the grasp of the average Mehmet who surrenders to the Allies. You will notice that the fellow is smoking a tailor made cigarette, another sign of affluence as most people who did smoke used rollies as tailor made ciggies were very pricey.
7. The fellows sitting around in their knitted singlets are indicating that everyone gets issued with underwear. But not only that, there are washing facilities to keep them clean and presentable.
All in all, these 7 men were recruited to assist in undermining their comrades morale to fight. We do not know the circumstances under which these pix and stories were made but I could bet that the good fortune displayed by all these people ended when the photo shoot ended.
It is activities such as this which tended to humiliate the men involved, not only for surrendering for whatever reason but to have their face and names dropped in the Turkish trenches, thereby putting their lives at great risk should they be recaptured by the Turks.
The role of humiliating and putting the life at risk was one of the key reasons why the conventions now prohibit the showing of POWs for triumphalist purposes. As bad as Saddam was, he had a point during the Iraq invasion when the faces of the mass of troops were shown surrendering. Very quickly the faces of the POWs were obscured by the press. It is the unbridled exploitation and humiliation of these prisoners that led to the conventions. Pictures like this were at the forefront in bringing these conventions to fruition.
Western Frontier Force, Egypt, 1915 - 1916, Sydney Mail Pictures Topic: AIF - WFF
Western Frontier Force
Egypt, 1915 - 1916
Sydney Mail Pictures
In Egypt: preparing for the Western Frontier Campaign
[From: Sydney Mail, 3 May 1916, p. 21.]
Australian Army Service men, mounted on Arab ponies, superintending the loading of transport camels with "tibbie" - that is chopped straw - the staple diet of the camel. The photograph was taken near Cairo. The Australians have greatly distinguished themselves in the western frontier campaign.
With the British in Western Egypt
[From: Sydney Mail, 7 June 1916, p. 13.]
Gafaar Pasha, the Turkish Commander in Chief of the Senussi, being assisted on board the packet boat which took him out to the warship in the harbour for conveyance to Alexandria. He surrendered to the British after a battle in which the tribesmen were completely routed and in which a number of Australians took part.
Crossing the Libyan Desert with War Chest Presents from Australia for our Troops.
No. 2 Company of the Australian Imperial Camel Corps.
[From: Sydney Mail, 7 June 1916, p. 15.]
The officer at the head is Lieutenant Adams, OC (Melbourne), immediately behind him being Lieutenant TW Morgan (Sydney), riding beside whom is Mr T Henley, MLA, War Chest Representative who was taking a consignment of gifts to Western Egypt, as seen in the top picture.
The Great War, Propaganda, British Propaganda Topic: GW - Propaganda
The Great War
Every nation participates in a propaganda war as an ancillary to the conflict. It aim to reach the hearts and minds of the antagonists with the hope that it will remove a combatant as surely as a bullet.
During the phase of the Allied campaign against the Ottoman forces in Palestine, the Allied air force was employed often in the process of dropping propaganda leaflets onto the troop encampments. The leaflets had to be highly visual due to low levels of literacy while also tell a story. Below is one example produced by the British at the end of 1917 and tossed over the Turkish lines.
The story in the propaganda sheet calls upon the average Mehmet to reflect upon their appalling conditions experienced in the Judaean Hills while on their campaign. The two characters are Mehmet and Ahmet, two of the most common Turkish names, like Bill and Jim.
The conversation goes like this:
Mehmet: In the name of Allah, what is the meaning of ally?
Ahmet: Ally means partner.
Mehmet: If this is so then this German pig is our so-called partner. What a partnership! These so called Germans allies are well fed, their clothes are dry, they are well paid and they are enjoying the war. But if you think of Mehmets, they don't have clothes, shoes, and are always hungry when going into the combat. The Germans go immediately to hospital after inventing an illness. On the other hand, unless we lose our lives, no body will believe that we are sick. So Ahmet what can you say about this partnership?
Ahmet: What can I say? Enver and Talat treated them like men and sold our country to them so they could line their pockets. In contrast, they really couldn't care if we died naked and hungry. My God! How much longer do we need to endure everything? For God's sake my dear Mehmet, tell me.
Mehmet: How long will we have to suffer? The way I see it we should stop fighting for German profits and join the English. Even though we are told the English are our enemies, they care for us a thousand times better than our lot. Please come!
The left hand side of this pic is missing which should contain an image of a German officer stuffing himself with some wonderful food while two rather gaunt Mehmets look on at the feast while manning a Bergman Light Machinegun behind a sangar. This piece of propaganda appears to come from Palestine and more specifically in the Judaean Hills, the only place where sangars were employed along with the Bergman in this manner.
For propaganda to be effective, it must be based upon something of substance. The photograph below is illustrative of the destitute circumstances in which some Ottoman formations found themselves during this part of the campaign.
Destitute Turkish Soldiers
[Picture from: Orses, T., & Ozcelik, N., 1. Dunya Savasi'nda, Turk Askeri Kiyafetleri (1914-1918), Istanbul, p. 156.]
While there are no statistics maintained on the numbers of Turkish soldiers who deserted as a consequence of this piece of propaganda, it was a clever piece of writing going to the heart of the disgruntled Turkish minds.
In contrast to these desperate circumstances, the moral of the Anatolian troops was remarkably good. Despite all of these privations, they fought on doggedly without any signs of mass desertions. Other men from the non-Turkish regions were ambivalent. Some formations fought well while others were indifferent and surrendered at the first opportunity.
Desertions to the Allies was not as big a problem as desertions within the Ottoman Empire itself. Transferring formations within the Empire was a fraught affair with sometimes up to 50% of the strength disappearing in transit. The men just packed up and went home. The numbers of these men influenced by propaganda such as illustrated above is unknown. It is possibly more attributed to being tired of the war and wanting to go home rather than anything the Allies might have said. But this will always remain an avenue for debate.
The following entries are extracted and transcribed from the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, the originals of which are held by the Australian War Memorial. There are 366 entries on this site. Each day has entries as they occurred from 1914 to 1919. In addition to the 9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary, when appropriate, entries from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary and other regiments with the Brigade will also appear. Entries from the unit history, Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924 will also appear from time to time. The aim is to give the broadest context to the story and allow the reader to follow the day to day activities of the regiment. If a relative happened to have served in the regiment during the Great War, then this provides a general framework in which the individual story may be told.
3rd Light Horse Brigade War Diary - 10th Light Horse Regiment Captain Millar, D Greenwood and Lieutenant Olden wounded.
HMS Triumph mined and sunk by German submarine.
8th Light Horse Regiment to trenches Walker's Hill.
Carew Reynell Diary - The night before last we fully expected an attack as in the evening things were unusually quiet and at about 2100 a small party of Turks were seen coming in the direction of our trenches. Our fire immediately sent them back but we all stood to arms till midnight. As a matter of fact all men in the trenches stand to arms from 0330 to 0430 - daylight - every morning and from 1930 till 2030 - dark - every night.
Yesterday the Turks were granted the request which they made for an armistice and all the dead were buried - the ground on which they were lying rotting still stinks badly but it's better and will no doubt be all right in a day or two. I had a good look round the general situation of our respective trenches and a rough plan. I am very much afraid Douglas [1245 Private Douglas Austin Byard, H Company, 16th Battalion, killed in action, 2 May 1915] is killed. A man who said he knew him well said he was killed on the Sunday after landing - that is to say on May 2. All his tent mates and about 600 out of the Battalion were killed, wounded or missing on the same days. They stormed and carried Pope's Hill and this was the terrible price paid. It seems to have been a most gallant and desperate charge and as I heard someone say 'Every man who fell on that hill was a real man and died a hero's death." The hill was taken by the 16th Battalion and another Battalion was ordered to support but, so tis said, couldn't be brought up. the hill was afterwards handed over to the Naval Brigade who allowed themselves to be turned out. The 16th Infantry and others of the 4th Brigade again stormed it and it was again left to the naval brigade to occupy it and again they failed. It has since been taken again and occupied by Australians and the useless Naval Brigade have been sent to Cape Helles to do fatigue work. It seems a pity that such a poor lot should be named Naval Brigade as it's a slur on the Blue Jackets - of course it may have just been one bad Brigade among many good ones but they have a bad name here. At present our 1st Light Horse Brigade occupy this hill, Pope's Hill.
The Turks attacked again on Tuesday last a week ago and the Auckland Regiment who were occupying the trenches we now hold lost fairly heavily - 40 or 50 killed I believe and the 1st Light Horse Brigade lost a few - half a dozen killed and 30 wounded. Dave Fulton was sniped three days ago - the day after we landed. He was hit in the shoulder - nothing much but he had, of course, to be sent back to hospital in Egypt. Their artillery has been very quiet last night and today - I wonder whether it is a shortage of ammunition or what. We hope to get the job in a few days of taking the hill in front of us. There are no apparent difficulties but I expect we should come under machine gun fire after getting there. That's the trouble - they are all arranged so that if they are driven out of one trench enfilade fire from another point is immediately turned on the lost trench. However, we shall see.
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - Smith, Lieutenant PT, with his troop, B Troop, “B” Squadron patrolled to Square 127F20. Small enemy patrol of five endeavoured to reach north east patrol but were prevented from doing so by Smith, Lieutenant PT and his patrol moving forward against their flank.
1900 Church Parade.
Sunday, May 25, 1919
9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Tel el Kebir
9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary - 1000, voluntary church service in YMCA conducted by Turner, Captain Chaplain RC.
1200, four other ranks proceeded to strengthen post at Abu Sueir.
Four other ranks proceeded to strengthen post at El Rimal.
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre is a not for profit and non profit group whose sole aim is to write the early history of the Australian Light Horse from 1900
- 1920. It is privately funded and the information is provided by the individuals within the group and while permission for the use of the material has been given for this
site for these items by various donors, the residual and actual copyright for these items, should there be any, resides exclusively with the donors. The information on
this site is freely available for private research use only and if used as such, should be appropriately acknowledged. To assist in this process, each item has a citation
attached at the bottom for referencing purposes.
Please Note: No express or implied permission is given for commercial use of the information contained within this site.
A note to copyright holders
The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has made every endeavour to contact copyright holders of material digitised for this blog and website and where
appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where
the permission is still being sought, the Australian Light Horse Studies Centre has decided, in good faith, to proceed with digitisation and publication. Australian Light
Horse Studies Centre would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of this item.