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Wednesday, 25 February 2009
3ncu Tayyare Boluk (The 3rd Aircraft Company)
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918


Albatros CIII at Medina, 1917.

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

Part 3 - 3ncü Tayyare Bölük (The 3rd Aircraft Company)

By spring 1916 increasing unrest among the Arab tribes on the Arabian peninsula forced the Turkish Hejaz Command to ask for reinforcements to protect the holy areas. As British aircraft had been reportedly seen in the area a Turkish Aircraft Company was expressly requested. Due to the special religious consequences none of the German personnel already in Palestine could be used. The 3ncü Tayyare Bölük (The 3rd Aircraft Company) was diverted for the task. Originally formed for service on the south Caucasus front was hurriedly issued with 5 Pfalz A.II parasol type monoplanes, numbers P6, P7, P8, P9, and P10. The advance party of the unit left Istanbul on 23 June 1916, taking with them 3 of the aircraft, 2 portable hangars, 50 bombs and 20,000 rounds of ammunition under command of the Commanding Officer, Captain Camil. The support crew included 1 officer, 2 NCO's, 2 mechanics and 97 Other Ranks. The advance party arrived in Damascus on 1 July. The balance of the company arrived two weeks later. Soon the aircraft were readied one by one by the Damascus workshop. One the first test flight, each aeroplane was subject to a forced landing with a faulty engines.

As in the equally hot in Iraq the rotary engines of the Pfalz proved totally unsuitable for the hot climatic conditions.

Specialists from FA300 were called to Damascus, but it was not until later when Captain Fazil, a skilled veteran Turkish flyer trained by Bristol and of exceptional piloting and technical aptitude, was brought in as Commanding Officer that the Pfalz aircraft became reliable enough to fly.

After this unfortunate interlude the 3ncü Tay. Böl. arrived on 3 October 1916 at Medina. Here a relatively large airfield close to the railway station had been prepared. Immediately operations were initiated against [179] the British assisted, rebelling tribes. During the first month, Captain Fazil and Lieutenant Fakir with Lieutenant Kamil as observer flew 14 sorties dropping bombs and darts on Arab camps. This pace was kept up in November with also 14 sorties being flown. On 7 October, Sheik Faisal's headquarters was spotted and the camp attacked. This was continued the following day with a two aircraft attack with Captain Fazil in P7 and Lieutenant Fakir in P10 in which they dropped four 15 kg bombs and three 5 kg bombs.


Pfalz A.II parasol type monoplane


In November, on the 26th, a long awaited Albatross C.III (AK.28) arrived. Tragically this aircraft was lost the next day when it disintegrated in the due to severe turbulence. The pilot, Lieutenant Saim was killed.

Nevertheless the operations were kept in a high key during December; 3 air-worthy aircraft and 4 crews being available. By the end of the year the flight log of 3ncü Tay. Böl. showed that 78 hours had been flown in the fragile parasols under the most difficult conditions. Fortunately at this time three new Albatros C.III's were received from Damascus (AK30, AK40, and AK72) and they soon flew alongside the remaining parasols. The last Pfalz A.II flight was made by Captain Fazil in P7 on 7 March 1917. During their stay in the desert of Arabia the five Pfalz's logged 150 flying hours.

Meanwhile two additional Albatrosses, AK4(a C.I) and AK31, had been received. During March, 8 sorties were flown by these machines. Soon however it was seen that also this type of aircraft did not perform well in the dry and hot climate. As replacements Rumpler C.I's double coolers were promised, as some had been made available from FA300.

During the summer of 1917 the Arab "hit and run" attacks on the Hejaz railway line became increasingly felt in Medina as vitally needed supplies for the aircraft unit could not get through. As a consequence the headquarters and main force of the 3ncü Tay. Böl. was moved to Maan on 1 August 1917. This move placed the unit under the command of the 4th Army, covering the area east of the Jordan River. The main duty of the aircraft company now became aerial protection of the railway line, although a detachment of a single Albatros was kept at Medina.

Meanwhile the first two Rumplers, R1847 and R2627, were ready at Maan and the first operational flight was performed on 2 August 1917. The next months saw daily reconnaissance flights performed over and in the vicinity of the railway. This proved a very successful means of keeping the Arab bands away. In this period also [180] occasional flights towards and attacks on Aqaba were made. In November another 4 Rumplers were received and the 3ncü Tayyare Bölük was split into 4 detachments:

Medina - 3 Albatros C.III's (AK30, AK40, and AK72) and 1 Rumpler C.I (R2627);
Maan - 1 Albatros (AK31) and 3 Rumplers (R1150, R1837, and R1847);
Dera - 1 Albatros(AK4) and 1 Rumpler (R2626); and,
Damascus - 1 Albatros (AK59) and 2 Rumplers (R2628, and R2636).

Between September and the end of December 1917 altogether 61 sorties were flown by the 7 pilots (Lieutenants Cevdet, Sakir, Orhan and Sergeant Hasan Fehmi at Medina; Lieutenant Emin Nihat and Sergeant Zeki at Maan; and, Lieutenant Huseyin Husnu at Dera) and 4 observers (Captain Izzettin and Lieutenants Cemal, Osman and Lutfi) of the detachments.

Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 19193ncü Tayyare Bölük (The 3rd Aircraft Company) comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 179 - 181. The text has been edited to remove errors and make it readable for an English speaking audience.


Further Reading:

The German Ottoman Air Force 

German Units - 605th Machine Gun Company

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: Pasha I

Next Chapter: The First and Second Battles Of Gaza


Citation: 3ncu Tayyare Boluk (The 3rd Aircraft Company)

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:06 AM EAST
El Auja, Palestine, May 23, 1917
Topic: BatzP - El Auja

El Auja

Palestine, 23 May 1917


El Auja, 1917.


(From W. T. MASSEY.)


Once again the Turks have been made to feel the full force of a British cavalry stroke.

The Commander-in-Chief decided upon the destruction of the greater part of the railway line south-west of Beersheba and mounted troops of a desert column under Major-General Chauvel, by another of those dashing raids which have characterized all the operations of the column since the occupation of El Arish at Christmas, attacked more than 20 miles of line simultaneously and destroyed it absolutely beyond repair, except by complete' reconstruction. The operation was even more important than the wrecking of the line suggests, for the Turks are short of railway material and they had, begun to take up and carry away the part of the line nearest to Kossaima to build a line towards Gaza. They looked. to this section of the line to furnish some badly-needed material, but they will not find a sound rail or sleeper there.


Map detailing the region in which the operation took place.


The night before last two columns moved out on their destroying mission. A camel corps '' went off on a 32-mile march to El Audja, a police post on the Turco-Egyptian frontier. They had previously destroyed the bridge there, and they spent yesterday in smashing the whole railway westwards to Wadi El Abiad, including many culverts over Wadis. Being well to the west of Beersheba, they had more time than the cavalry, whose operations were timed to cease at 10 o'clock, and the explosions of the camel men were heard like a heavy artillery battle until late iii the afternoon.

The task of smashing the railway between Asluj, 15 miles due south of Beersheba, and Hadaj was entrusted to Field Engineers and Anzac and Imperial mounted troops, who have been specially trained in the methods of rapidly destroying railway line. They were covered by the remainder of the troops. These splendid soldiers moved south and east from dusk on Tuesday until dawn yesterday for more than 30 miles. They were delayed somewhat by the extreme darkness of the night, and a dust storm made it difficult to see the tracks. Some of the country is very difficult. One column had to march in the blackness of the night over a long stretch of limestone ridges with char jagged edges. One demolition party arrived at Asluj at 6 o'clock, and the other at Hadaj at 7, working towards each other.

By 10 o'clock they had destroyed 10 miles of line, including three bridges of 24 arches, with substantial atone and concrete pillars. So complete was the destruction of this section of the strategic military line that not one length of rail remained whole. Every bolt had its head knocked off.


Engineers laying charges on the viaduct.


It was not part of the scheme that the cavalry and camelry should join hands and the short section between their spheres of operations remains untouched, but the undestroyed portion is isolated and useless.


The explosion destroying the viaduct.


While the engineers were blowing up the railway the cavalry made a strong demonstration against Beersheba. They got within five miles of the town, heavily shelled and destroyed the railway bridge to the north, and drove off two Turkish cavalry brigades which appeared to the south of Beersheba during the afternoon. Our troops returned to their bivouacs in the afternoon. The Turks made a poor reply to this heavy blow.


An untouched viaduct. The beautiful stonework stands testimony to the craftsmanship of the Italian POW's who built it.


This morning an aeroplane with three men and explosives came down at Salmena, a few miles from Bir-el-Abd, to attempt to cut out railway and pipe line. The men alighted and were about to place dynamite in position when our patrol opened a heavy fire. The enemy airmen ran, leaving the machine and all them explosives and implements. Blood trails showed that one man was hit, but not the slightest damage was done to us.

A Constantinople communiqué, dated May 30 stated that two Turkish airmen landed near Salmena, and "destroyed the telegraph lines and the British Army's water-supply pipes."


The ruins of El Auja decay in the timeless desert.


Extracted from and article written by WT Massey and published in the London Times, 1 June 1917, p. 6.

Further Reading:

Yigal Sheffy, The origins of the British breakthrough into South Palestine : the ANZAC raid on the Ottoman railway, 1917, The journal of strategic studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, March 1999.    

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

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: El Auja, Palestine, May 23, 1917

Posted by Project Leader at 10:06 PM EAST
Updated: Tuesday, 14 April 2009 11:18 AM EADT
Bert Schramm's Diary, 25 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, 25 February 1919


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

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Tuesday, February 25, 1919

Bert Schramm's Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

Bert Schramm's Diary - Has been raining heavens hard and blowing like the devil. Blankets etc. are wet through so will have a pretty uncomfortable night. What a blessing it will be when one can have a roof over his head again.



9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Rafa, Egypt.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -  Improving camp, pitching tents etc.

1200 Orders received that the Regiment would move following day to new bivouac area 3/4 mile west.

2300 Warning order received that Australian Mounted Division would concentrate at Moascar. Advanced regiments at Rafa to move at an early date.



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

No Entry

Previous: Bert Schramm's Diary, 24 February 1919

Next: Bert Schramm's Diary, 26 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, 25 February 1919

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2009 1:35 PM EADT
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
The First and Second Battles Of Gaza
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918


German Colonists visiting Ramle air field, May 1917.

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 204.]


Part 4 - The First and Second Battles Of Gaza

By March 1917 the British forces moving through the Sinai desert had pushed forward the supporting railway line and moved enough forces and equipment forward to attempt an attack on the Turkish defence line between Beersheba and Gaza. These moves by the British forces were carefully observed and reported by the highly spirited and efficient crews of FA300, who had just arrived from Germany. A forward detachment of 2 Rumpler C.Is were maintained at Huj in close contact with the forward Army Headquarters so no time would be lost in forwarding new observations. To counter the British intentions, three Turkish divisions (the 3rd, 16th and 53rd) were rushed to the front.

When the British forces attacked in the early morning of the 26th of March 1917 the advance was dutifully reported by a Rumpler, flying low in the morning haze. While the 3 Turkish divisions hurried marched forward 6 Rumplers provided accurate artillery observations and attacked any British aircraft. Several air-battles ensued but neither side claimed any aircraft shot down. The British air units could call upon 21 BE2C's, 14 Martinsydes and 7 Bristol Scouts half of which were air worthy whereas FA300 possessed only 7 flyable Rumplers. The 2 Fokker E.III's being on charge were kept at Ramleh as the unreliable rotary engines made them unsuitable except for short flights over friendly territory. In the evening of the day of attack the British forces had to withdraw with more than 4,000 casualties. The war in the air continued for another 2 days.

After this battle the German commander of the front, General von Kress, officially gave credit to FA300 for having won the day [181] due to its timely and accurate observations and later artillery directions.

Meanwhile in the air the new Rumpler C.I's with their forward firing gun dominated the skies so effectively that they were widely reported by the Royal Flying Corps as "new Halberstadt fighters". Despite the fact that the Rumplers had orders to avoid battle to save precious machines for the vital reconnaissance duties, one BE.2C was downed on the 27th of March, another on 6 April and a Martinsyde on 19 April.


Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 182.]

[Click on map for larger version.]


During the crucial period from mid March to mid April FA300 succeeded in almost completely keeping the British aircraft away from the Gaza lines while these were heavily fortified. In the process 210 flying hours were logged. In the first days of April keen aerial reconnaissance again revealed that a new attack on Gaza was eminent. Consequently two attacks by a force of 5 Rumplers were made on the main British airfield at Rafa inflicting heavy damage.

On 19 April, a British head-on attack was launched upon the by now well prepared Gaza lines. The assault was headed by a small force of armoured cars and therefore succeeded in penetrating the first lines. Now again excellent artillery direction by the wireless equipped Rumplers halted the attackers, wrecked the armoured cars and turned the assault into a complete failure.

On the day of attack an unorthodox attempt was made to stop the British advance by Captain Felmy (the Commanding Officer) and his observer Captain Falke. The British forces were dependent for their water supply on a pipeline following the railway track having been constructed through the desert. The two officers in a daring flight flew a Rumpler 150 km's behind the British lines, landed beside the railway track and blew up the pipeline with explosives. The damage was soon repaired but another similar attack made on 24 May was more successful.

Both on 20 and 21 April, the British tried to renew their attack but all attempts were quickly spotted by the “all present” Rumplers and dealt with by artillery or stubborn infantry counterattacks. The lines of Gaza remained unbroken despite the sacrifice of 6,444 British casualties. A Turkish follow-up counterattack failed to gain ground and was repulsed.

The British air units by this time were apparent completely demoralized and from May to September the small German unit, FA300 swept the sky around Gaza clear of enemy aircraft. The British airfields were also attacked at will and the railway track [183] bombed to such an extent that the traffic for long periods of time came to a standstill as the Indian and Egyptian workers refused to work.

During these five months of stalemate on the ground and German
air superiority, 7 more British aircraft fell to the Rumplers, the losses occurring on 11 May, 25 June, 26 June, 29 June, 8 July, 8 July and 13 September. After 20 June, when two Albatros D.III's were received, these fighters claimed a further 5 aircraft on 25 June, 26 June, 29 June, 8 July and 13 July. These successes were accomplished without any combat losses to FA300. Despite this fact the unit was in August down to only 2 airworthy Rumplers and the 2 Albatros fighters due to attrition and worn out aircraft.

Parallel to this far reaching changes had been made on the British side of the front where General Allenby had taken charge. New modern and more suitable British aircraft started to arrive at the front in August in large numbers.


Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919The First and Second Battles Of Gaza comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 181-4. 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


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Citation: The First and Second Battles Of Gaza

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:08 AM EAST
The Light Cars in the Libyan Desert
Topic: AIF - Cars





The following summary was extracted from: Bean, C.E.W., The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1916, Official History, Volume III:-

Appendix 2 – The Light Cars in the Libyan Desert.




Although the main force of the Senussi had been beaten in the Sollum campaign, the Nile valley farther south continued to be threatened by congregations of tribesmen in the neighbouring oases. There is said to be evidence that not only the Senussi, but the Sultan of Darfur and possibly the Turks were working upon a concerted plan, It thus became necessary to safeguard the western edge of the Nile valley. The part played in this by the light horse and the Imperial Camel Corps has been mentioned in Volume VII

The British Official History states :

The Imperial Camel Corps (which, the authors say, "was predominantly Australian") was the backbone of the defence of Egypt from the west. But the use of camelry in war is ancient. and it was the internal-combustion engine which now completely altered the situation.

The reference is to the motor-car patrols, which were of two types - light car patrols of Ford cars, and light armoured motor batteries of Rolls Royce cars and tenders. It was to this service that Murray sent the Australian light-car patrol, which arrived in Egypt in the middle of 1916. This unit consisted of three armoured cars of the heavier type, armed with Colt guns; the bodies had been built by the members of the unit themselves in Melbourne to the plans of their commander, Captain James.

On August 15th they were sent from Ismailia to Minia, with the 11th and 12th British Light Armoured Car Batteries, they patrolled the line of blockhouses to the Baharia oasis which in October was re-occupied by a force under Major-General Watson. The Colt guns of the Australian cars worked well enough, but, though all the drivers were accustomed to bush driving in Australia, their cars proved much more difficult to work in sand than the British Rolls Royces. Apart from the possibility of breakdown in the desert - to which both cars and aeroplanes were liable - there was no great danger in the work.

On December 3rd the unit was ordered south. Its cars and guns were returned to Cairo, but the personnel went by railway to the Kharga oasis, which the British had re-occupied in April. Here cars and Lewis guns were taken over from a British unit. Extra drivers and some despatch riders (with motor-cycles) joined, and the unit became No. 1 Australian Light Car Patrol. Its first duty was to escort General Watson to the Dakhla oasis (reoccupied since October, 1916). At the end of the year the unit was employed in discovering new routes from the southern end of that oasis to Kharga, the ancient track (Darb el Gubari) being too flinty for tyres. A more southerly route was soon found - leading through a pass in some rocky hills, beyond which was firm sand allowing motors to travel at high speed to Kharga, which was their goal.

Meanwhile, all the important oases had been re-occupied except Siwa, where the Senussi himself was located. Hearing that he proposed to withdraw thence to Jaghbub, Sir Archibald Murray decided to raid Siwa from Matruh. This was done at the beginning of February, 1917, but the Senussi escaped. It was while these plans were in preparation that the Australian patrol, then at Dakhla, was asked to discover a route from Dakhla direct to the Kufra oasis, 400 miles to the west in the centre of the desert. The oasis had never been approached from this direction, access having always been from Cyrenaica in the north. Three cars started, with two despatch-riders. But the surface was found to be soft drift-sand; the cars had to be worked in low gear and constantly pushed. One broke down at the 80th mile, and a second when nearing the 200th. The country ahead, seen from a high hill, showed no sign of improvement, and the attempt was therefore abandoned. The patrol returned to Dakhla oasis just as its last water-can was emptied. A second attempt was about to be made when the unit was sent to Palestine.

The British, who were now raiding the Senussi's camps from the north in conjunction with the Italians, and destroying his ammunition, in April, 1917, made terms with Sayed Idris, the Senussi's cousin (and son of his predecessor). This leader was now recognised as occupying the Senussi's position; Sayed Ahmed himself was in August, 1918, smuggled by an Austrian submarine to Constantinople, where he for a time took a prominent part in the Pan-Islamic movement.

Further Reading:


Australian Light Horse Order of Battle - Outline 

The Australian Light Horse - Structure

Australian Light Horse Order of Battle

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: The Light Cars in the Libyan Desert

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Monday, 13 April 2009 9:43 PM EADT

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