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Sunday, 22 February 2009
A Fight against Rising Odds
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918


Sergeant Fehmi of 3ncü Tayyare Bölük in an Albatros C.III at Amman, 1918.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 213.]


Part 6 - A Fight against Rising Odds

The ratio between German and Turkish as compared to British aircraft in Palestine was in the beginning of 1916 about 1:5 while- decreasing to about 1:12 in the spring 1917 and then rising with the arrival of the new units to about 1:2- in October. This ratio continued to dwindle during 1918: Jan. about 1:3; May about 1:5; August about 1:10 and on 19 September about 1:15. The operations in 1918 can be divided into two main periods: The war of attrition from January to September and the period of defeat from 19 September until the armistice on 30 October 1918. [187]

The New Year 1918 started out with an exceptionally black day for the German units. On 2 January, a mixed formation of aircraft from FA302 and FA304(b) attacked the old German airfield of Ramleh, now used by RAF squadrons. Unfortunately for the Germans, the formation was intercepted and four AEG's were lost. Later in the day the British retaliated and 14 of their aircraft attacked Jenin. The casualties were one defending Albatros fighter lost in the air and one AEG on the ground. The British lost one aircraft shot down. Again on 12 January, an aircraft was lost with its crew and on 17 January both an Albatros and an AEG went missing. The German units managed to shoot down a British aircraft both on the 4th and 20th of January.

At this time the Arab attacks on the 4th Army to the east of Jordan river and on the Hejaz railway had grown to such an extent that more aircraft units were needed on this front. In the beginning of the year the Turkish 4ncü Tayyare Bölük was transferred from Adana in Southern Turkey to Amman. The unit, under command of the famed observer, Captain Huseyin Sedat, had 4 pilots and 5 observers and operated one Albatros C.III (AK51) and 3 recently issued AEG C.IV's (AEG2, AEG3, and AEG22). In February the German FA305, under command of Captain Elias, arrived at Dera with 12 AEG C.IV's to protect this vital railway junction against Arab insurgents.

Also the newly formed Turkish 14ncü Tayyare Bölük under command of the German Captain Zelich, arrived with 7 additional AEG's (AEG26, AEG27, AEG28, AEG29, AEG30, AEG31, and AEG32).

With these relative large reinforcements to the 4th Army a separate aircraft command was set up for the eastern front under command of KOFL, Captain Beltz.

Since the beginning of 1918, the all Turkish 3ncü Tayyare Bölük had a very busy period in its effort to control the Hejaz railway line between Dera and Medina now with 4 Rumplers at Maan (R11 50, R1837, R1847, and R2626) and detachments of Albatros C.III's at Medina (AK30) and Dera (AK4). In addition to this task the unit was also ordered to harass and bomb Aqaba several times as well as performing reconnaissance as far away as Suez. In January, 23 sorties were flown and in February, the number was 21 sorties. The operations took its toll however and on 4 February, Rumpler R1837 was lost and its crew taken prisoners.


Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 188.]

[Click on map for larger version.]


A Turkish force crossed the Jordan River under the protective screen of three Rumplers on 2 March and later on the [189] same day the same aircraft made bombing attacks on British counter-attacking formations. In the end of the same month British forces also tried to cross the river and formations of up to five aircraft from FA305 and 3ncü, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, bombed and strafed the advancing cavalry units. The effect was such that the British were forced to retire to the west bank of the Jordan River.

During April large Arab forces had concentrated around Maan and 25 sorties were flown against them. This was however to no avail and 3ncü Tayyare Bölük was forced to withdraw with its main force of three aircraft to Amman. Only one Rumpler, R1150, was left at Maan, but on 8 May, this aircraft was wrecked.

In late April, under cover from the Arab attack, British forces again tried to attack the 4th Army with an advance towards Es Salt. This called for a major effort and 4 AEG's from FA305 and 3 from 14ncü Tayyare Bölük made almost continuous attacks on the advancing troops. Fifty bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the village Ezrak alone. These operations, though successful, took a heavy toll on the units and in the beginning of May, 3ncü Tayyare Bölük was left with only Rumpler, R2626, and 4ncü Tayyare Bölük having lost its Albatros C.III on 5 March and an AEG on 28 March, was left with only two aircraft. Heavy pressure was now made by British aircraft upon Amman and Dera. One of the attacking DH4's was shot down on 1 May. Soon after 1 May, JASTA 1 transferred from Jenin to Amman with 6 Albatros D.III fighters. This was no success for after a week at Amman where no interceptions were made the unit returned to Jenin. At this time only 3 fighters remained air worthy as the other 3 aircraft had been damaged beyond repair during landing accidents. To counter the British air attack in another way a force of 7 aircraft from FA305, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük attacked the British home base outside Jerusalem on 24 May. This British promptly retaliated on 31 May when they dropped more than 100 bombs on Amman, inflicting heavy damage.

After these events in the air, activity was cut down significantly due to the intense heat during the summer.

British aircraft nevertheless managed to make a surprise attack on both Amman and Dera on 24 June and in this raid, the 14ncü Tayyare Bölük lost two aircraft (AEG29, and AEG32) and two pilots. In addition most of the equipment belonging to 3 ncü and 4ncü Tayyare Bölük was burnt when a hangar was hit at Amman. More luck was experienced two days later when 2 AEC's on reconnaissance towards Maan succeeded in [190] shooting down a British aircraft. Attrition continued however and FA305 lost two aircraft in June thus resulting by the end of the months in a total of only 8 airworthy aircraft being present at the front. In a desperate move, the commanding officers of 3ncü, 4ncü and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, together travelled to Istanbul to plead for new aircraft. This was to no avail however and FA305 lost another aircraft on the 3rd of July. At this time 14ncü Tayyare Bölük only had one aircraft left.

Two aircraft made a reconnaissance over Aqaba and bombed it on 12 July but thereafter only three aircraft were available. In the last days of July and in August, Dera was being attacked daily by British aircraft but in 19 sorties three of these attackers were shot down by fighters transferred from Jenin, respectively on 9, 18 and 24 August. By 19 August, the hard working mechanics had again managed to make 2 aircraft flyable for each FA305 and 14ncü Tayyare Bölük, and 150 bombs were dropped in 22 sorties, most near the village of Katrane. On the 21st the British counteracted by bombing Dera and the three aircraft of the two resident aircraft units were burnt. In the first week of September another 2 aircraft were received from the aircraft park at Rayak.

When Arab forces attacked on 15 September, 8 aircraft were transferred from Jenin. Under command of Captain Elias, these 10 aircraft flew 47 sorties between 16 and 21 September and were successful in keeping the vital Dera railway junction open. After this, most of the personnel withdrew to the north.


Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919A Fight against Rising Odds comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 187-191. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.


Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim



Go To:

Previous Chapter: Yildirim Ordu (The "Lightning Army") 

Next Chapter: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front


Citation: A Fight against Rising Odds

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:14 AM EAST
Bert Schramm's Diary, 22 February 1919
Topic: Diary - Schramm

Diaries of AIF Servicemen

Bert Schramm


During part of the course of his military service with the AIF, 2823 Private Herbert Leslie Schramm, a farmer from White's River, near Tumby Bay on the Eyre Peninsular, kept a diary of his life. Bert was not a man of letters so this diary was produced with great effort on his behalf. Bert made a promise to his sweetheart, Lucy Solley, that he would do so after he received the blank pocket notebook wherein these entries are found. As a Brigade Scout since September 1918, he took a lead part in the September 1918 breakout by the Allied forces in Palestine. Bert's diary entries are placed alongside those of the 9th Light Horse Regiment to which he belonged and to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade to which the 9th LHR was attached. On this basis we can follow Bert in the context of his formation.

 Bert Schramm's Diary, 22 February 1919


Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 22 - 25 February 1919

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Saturday, February 22, 1919

Bert Schramm's Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

Bert Schramm's Diary - The Ninth Regiment sailed for Kantara this morning. The Brigade races were held today and were rather good. Numbers of civilians attended.



9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - HMT Ellenga, at sea.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -  0430 Reveilled and at 0630 marched dismounted to embarkation pier El Mina.

All baggage loaded into lighters by 0810 and at 0845 the Regiment embarked on a lighter and by 1000 all were aboard the HMT Ellenga. 4th Light Horse Regiment and 8th Light Horse Regiment had embarked on this boat the previous day. Scott, Lieutenant Colonel WH, CMG DSO assumed command of the Regiment and formed them into the Aust. Div. Group.

1200 HMT Ellenga sailed.



Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.

No Entry

Previous: Bert Schramm's Diary, 21 February 1919

Next: Bert Schramm's Diary, 23 February 1919


Further Reading:

9th Light Horse Regiment AIF War Diary - Complete day by day list

Bert Schramm Diary 

Bert Schramm Diary - Complete day by day list


Additional Reading:

Darley, TH, With the Ninth Light Horse in the Great War, Adelaide, Hassell Press, 1924.


Citation: Bert Schramm's Diary, 22 February 1919

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2009 1:44 PM EADT
Saturday, 21 February 2009
The Pasha Units on the Southern Front
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918


(L.) Major Weyert, KOFL, and (R) Major Walz, CO FA304(b) in front of a LVG C.V prior to a reconnaissance mission, April 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 [191] 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. [193]

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 - 1919The 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:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

A Fight against Rising Odds

Turkish Prisoners in Egypt - Heliopolis Camp

Air War on the Palestine Front, December 1915 to January 1917

Turkish Units - The Ottoman Air Force

Lieutenant Colonel Hüseyin Hüsnü Emir, Yildirim


Go To:

Previous Chapter: A Fight against Rising Odds

Next Chapter: The Final Destruction


Citation: The Pasha Units on the Southern Front

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:18 AM EAST
El Arish, Sinai, December 20, 1916
Topic: BatzS - El Arish

El Arish

Sinai, 20 December 1916


El Arish, a painting by George Lambert.


At dawn on 20 December 1916, the 1st Brigade of the ANZAC Mounted Division (less the 2nd Brigade) reached the Mediterranean coast on the far side of El Arish and suddenly the horses stepped off the sand onto the wide, firm flat that flanks the great Wadi (streambed) El Arish. They started prancing and Brigadier General 'Fighting Charlie' Cox called a halt just to watch them. That night,' Cox said, 'will always seem to me the most wonderful of the whole campaign. The hard going for the horses seemed almost miraculous after the months of sand; and, as their shoes struck fire on the stones in the bed of the wadi, the men laughed with delight.


Kress and his officers at El Arish.


Sinai was behind them. It was a perfect dawn arrival: the 1st Brigade to the east with its flank on the silver sea, the Camel Brigade to the south, the New Zealanders to the south-west and the 3rd Brigade at Masaid, a Turkish post five miles west. Each brigade was on time, none more than 200 yards out of position and they didn't have to fire a shot. The substantial Turkish army of occupation that had held the place for over two years had gone.


Abandoned Turkish trenches at El Arish.


The dramatic appearance at dawn of this ring of tough-looking foreign horsemen right round the town sparked wild excitement and apparent demonstrations of delight, from the Arab villagers, whatever their true loyalties or feelings. Bearded elders in many-coloured, flowing dresses crowded round the grinning Anzacs, grasping their stirrups and kissing their boots, while women and children swarmed around them, shouting. The chief sheikh formally surrendered the town and handed over one hapless Turk and some alleged Turkish spies.

The troopers wandered down the evil-smelling alleyways between the squalid mud huts. After the great region of nothing, the village was at least a place of human habitation and there were some mosques and minarets. Besides the familiar dale palm oases, they came upon planted crops and fields of melons, vegetables, and an orange grove. Fig trees! This was more like it.

The Anzacs camped in the wadi bed and set up a series of strong outposts. They were on Turkish territory now, invaders not defenders, and could be attacked - and so to keep the enemy off balance, should strike first. And how much more effective they would be on firm ground, with good water and better feed for horse and man.


Light Horsemen bivouacked by Hod Masaid near the sea at El Arish, December 1916.


Extracted from the book produced by Lindsay Baly, Horseman, Pass By, East Roseville, N.S.W. : Simon & Schuster, 2003, Ch. 7.


Further Reading:

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: El Arish, Sinai, December 20, 1916

Posted by Project Leader at 8:21 AM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 1:02 PM EADT
Query Club, 2 February 1916
Topic: Gen - Query Club

The Query Club

2 February 1916



The large scale of the Great War often gave people a sense of alienation from the activities of the government and the army. To overcome this, newspapers of the day commenced columns called Query Club or similar names, where ordinary people could clarify their understanding of the complex processes. They also provide us, the historians, an insight into witnessing first hand, the responses of the various bodies to public concerns. The end product is a window into a society now almost out of living memory.

This is the Query Club from the Sydney Mail, 2 February 1916, p. 31.


Frank Roberts letter to the Army, 13 October 1915.

[Click on picture for larger version.]




Of the 13th Battalion, AIF. He was wounded at the Dardanelles last May, and has not been heard of since. His brother (Frank Roberts, 147 Conway Street, Birkenhead) inquires for him.

[The person referred to here was 774 Private Trevor Evans Roberts, 13th Battalion, G Company. Later transferred to D Company, XIV Platoon, 13th Section. On the night of 2 May 1915, the Company assaulted "Dead Man's Ridge" at Gallipoli. He was wounded during the assault but he was not recovered along with a further 100 men who were left in no man's land. on 28 April 1915 determined by a Court of Enquiry to have been killed in action, 3 May 1915.]




No complete list of warships lost by the different Powers has ever been published officially. The censor will not permit us to give the details regarding Great Britain. Most of the losses are admitted; there are others regarding which there is a good deal of mystery. A few weeks ago we published a full page illustrating Germany's admitted losses.



No badges are issued to men who have offered themselves as recruits and have been rejected by the medical officers. Certificates are obtainable, however, they should be applied for at the barracks.


"Paroo" asks if boys of 17 years and 9 months can enlist in the A.I.Forces and do three months' training until they are 18.

No; 18 is the minimum age at which recruits are accepted, and even then it is necessary to have the consent of their parents.



The separation allowance for a married man ceases on his embarkation; instead, three-fifths of his pay is reserved for his wife.



There have been so many changes in commands, and probably will be others before our troops again go into action, that we cannot give you the particulars you desire at present.



A soldier who has been sent home on sick leave and has not got his discharge must report himself to the authorities when asked to do so. If he recovers sufficiently to be again fit for active service he has no option but to return to the front when ordered to do so.


Further Reading:

The Query Club


Citation: Query Club, 2 February 1916

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 12 April 2009 9:09 AM EADT

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