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Thursday, 26 February 2009
Pasha I
Topic: Tk - Bks - Air Force

Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918


Inspection of FA300 at El Arish by Cemel Pasha, June 1916

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 203.]

Part 2 - Pasha I

To take pressure off the Gallipoli front, a renewed attack on the Suez Canal was planned by the Ottoman High Command to take place in the beginning of 1916. As the Turkish flying units possessed neither personnel nor aircraft for such a large undertaking, Germany agreed to send pure German units to support and lead the attack. A flying unit, an anti-aircraft battery, a heavy howitzer battery and several machine-gun companies were promised. [For the War Diary of the 605th Machine Gun Company, see: German Units - 605th Machine Gun Company]

The aircraft unit, Fliegerabteilung 300 "Pasha" was established on 24 December 1915 at Dallgow-Döberitz, in Germany. The officers of the unit had their first meeting in January and an advance party was formed. This comprised the Commanding Officer, Captain Heemskerck, 2 pilots, 2 observers and 41 other personnel as well as 2 Rumpler C.I's with special coolers, one Pfalz E.I fighter, three trucks and supplies for three months. The advanced party left for Turkey on 20 February. The party travelled via a long and complicated route through Eastern Europe, Anatolia, Syria and Palestine, travelling on rail, ship, ox-cart and road. They arrived at the prepared field at Beersheba on 1 of April. Two hours after their arrival the Pfalz, named “Käthe” and piloted by Lieutenant Henckel, came by air. The duties of the small unit were to provide reconnaissance over the sea to search for British seaplane tenders and covering the Sinai desert to observe British advance units.

On 19 April, two Rumplers were ordered to El Arish from which an armed expedition was sent towards the oasis of Katia. During the next days several sorties were carried out over the Suez Canal, Romani and Port Said.

The main party of FA300 arrived on 30 April bringing with them 4 additional pilots, 3 observers and 4 Rumplers equipped with wireless transmitters. A base receiver station was erected at the field. All six Rumplers were air worthy on 7 May, and one was immediately given the task of photographing the Suez Canal and surrounding fortifications. The five others were ordered to make bombing attacks on Suez City, Ismailia and Port Said to disrupt shipping. The last part of the unit arrived on 18 May with another two crews but only one Rumpler as the other had been lost on a flight near Jerusalem.

Initially setbacks were experienced by the Aircraft Company. First on 9 May, one of the Rumplers was destroyed on the ground by a British attack.

The next setback [175] occurred the following day [10 May] when the British, who apparently were well informed, struck the new airfield with 12 aircraft. They left 2 Rumplers completely destroyed and the Pfalz damaged. Three pilots and five mechanics were severely injured.

Although a heavy blow, the raids did not discourage the unit, and on the same day a British warship was attacked off the coast. This made the whole British fleets steam west, not to be observed again for a long time. Another counter-blow was dealt the British Navy on 26 May when the seaplane tender "Raven II" was bombed and damaged in Suez harbour.

The first air-duel in the area was fought two days later [28 May] near the Suez Canal between a Farman and a Rumpler. The Farman had the advantage of a front gun and the Rumpler returned with 18 bullet holes in the fuselage and wings.

On 16 June was FA300 with its full complement of six Rumplers and the Pfalz ordered to proceed to El Arish in preparation for the canal attack.


Map of air activities covered by this extract

[From: Ole Nikolajsen, Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919, p. 176.]

[Click on map for larger version.]


Finally the new canal attack moved ahead and from 1 July, FA300 was given the task to employ all means possible to prevent British aircraft from observing the Turkish and German column of 15,000 men moving out of El Arish. When Turkish advance units reached the oasis at Bir el Abd on 15 July a detachment with one Rumpler was stationed there to cut off any approaching British aircraft.

The advance through the desert with the heavy guns in the intense summer heat soon became painfully slow and it was not until one month later that an attack on the British lines near Romani could be launched.

After stubborn fighting the oasis was taken on the 17th of August but at this crucial time a British encouraged Arab uprising took place. Most of the Arab regiments constituting the main force of the Turkish column defected to the British side. [Editor’s note: This paragraph has been left as it was in the original manuscript. The Battle of Romani was fought from 4-6 August while the Battle of Bir el Abd occurred on 9 August after which the Canal invasion force retreated back to El Arish leaving a rear guard at Bir el Mazar.]

Consequently a hurried Turkish withdrawal had to take place and in this, the FA300 played a significant role in providing rear cover. The harassment of the British cavalry force was so successful that all contact between the two armies was lost. The Turkish attack force was successful in withdrawing with all its precious heavy howitzers.

During the operations Lieutenant Henckel, being an engineer, managed to shoot down a Bristol Scout with a self-constructed synchronised frontal machine-gun.

By now the heavy workload had completely exhausted FA300's supplies and little ammunition while only 800 litres of petrol remained. An officer flew to Damascus to arrange for new supplies and here he was greeted by a team of new reinforcements and supplies on their way to FA300. They arrived in mid September at the Beersheba airfield. The reinforcements included the new Commanding Officer, Captain Felmy, 3 replacement crews, 6 new Rumpler C.I's and two Fokker E.III fighters.

At this time had the FA300 detachment withdrawn from Bir el Abd and by 27 August the complete unit was back at El Arish.

On 15 September a large attack by British seaplanes was made. Unlike the attack in June, this time the FA300 had been alerted and watched the seaplane tenders approach. Two Rumplers and the Pfalz intercepted the attackers, shot down one and forced another into the sea. Thereafter the Rumplers promptly returned to base and one hour later attacked the seaplane tenders with bombs and machine-gun fire, forcing them to retire westwards.

Even though all Turkish forces were well back at El Arish, a further withdrawal to Gaza was initiated. FA300 returned to Beersheba on 25 September. This was done by three night marches with the assistance of 300 heavily laden camels. At Beersheba the headquarters was re-established with 9 Rumplers, 2 Fokker E.III's and a barely air worthy Pfalz E.I. Captain Heemskerck and 3 of the first members of FA300 returned to Germany.

During the following months, the Turkish forces were reorganizing around Gaza while the British moved slowly ahead in the desert building a supporting railway track. This was a period of attrition in the air.

On 8 November a Rumpler was lost to British anti-aircraft fire. An air-duel took place on 11 November, the Rumpler pilot was victorious. In this month a last bombing attack by a formation of 3 Rumplers was made on the Suez Canal and Port Said, using El Arish as a refuelling point. Fuel was brought by two additional Rumplers. Shortly afterwards was El Arish abandoned by the Turks without a fight. During December several battles developed in the air all without losses for FA300. The British however lost aircraft on the 2nd, 3rd and 9th of November 1916. Altogether 14 British aircraft were claimed shot down by FA300 in the period between 1 April and 31 December 1916. Fifteen more were claimed shot down by ground fire. (Only aircraft in which a wreckage was found, or prisoners taken as proof, are included in this total.)

Despite the unquestionable air superiority gained by FA300 in this period the high number of British aircraft and their shorter supply line made them able to perform a number of concentrated attacks on the airfield at Beersheba. No important German equipment was lost in these nuisance raids, as all [178] aircraft and vital equipment had been dispersed.

The raids however soon became such a menace that headquarters and equipment of FA300 was relocated on 10 January 1917 to a new field near the old monastery at Ramleh. The workshops were transferred to Damascus where they eventually supported all Palestine aircraft units. On 1 March the old personnel of FA300 were relieved by new battle proven western front crews arriving from Germany. Soon also 8 new Rumpler C.I's with a synchronised forward firing gun were received. During the next months, the surviving 7 old Rumplers were sent to the Damascus Aircraft Station and after refurbishing re-issued to the Turkish 3ncu Tayyare Boluk (3rd Aircraft Company).


Source: The above extract is obtained from a self published work by Ole Nikolajsen called Ottoman Aviation 1911 - 1919.  Pasha I comes from Chapter 8, Pasha and Yildirim, the Palestine Front, 1915 to 1918, pp. 175-9. 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: A Token Force

Next Chapter: 3ncu Tayyare Boluk (The 3rd Aircraft Company)


Citation: Pasha I

Posted by Project Leader at 11:01 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 1 March 2009 9:03 AM EAST
Bert Schramm's Diary, 26 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, 26 February 1919


Bert Schramm's Handwritten Diary, 26 February - 1 March 1919

[Click on page for a larger print version.]


Bert Schramm

Wednesday, February 26, 1919

Bert Schramm's Location - Tripoli, Lebanon.

Bert Schramm's Diary - The weather has been something awful. Raining and blowing a hurricane. Rumoured now that we are to go to Moascar when we have instead of Rafa and we were to have embarked tomorrow. But while the weather continues there is no chance of a boat getting in.



9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary

9th Light Horse Regiment Location - Rafa, Egypt.

9th Light Horse Regiment War Diary -  Camp routine.



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

No Entry

Previous: Bert Schramm's Diary, 25 February 1919

Next: Bert Schramm's Diary, 27 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, 26 February 1919

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Wednesday, 6 May 2009 1:33 PM EADT
Query Club, 19 January 1916
Topic: Gen - Query Club

 The Query Club

19 January 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, 19 January 1916, p. 30.




No physically fit men are wanted for home service. If you are over age or not able to pass the medical test, you should write to the O.C., Victoria Barracks, stating in what direction you could be of service.



You could not travel as a steward on a vessel leaving Australia without a passport. The fact that your wife is in England would make your examination even more stringent, because of the suggestion that you intended going to her with no intention of returning or of fulfilling your military obligations.



Recruits are urgently wanted for the formation of a wireless corps for active service abroad. Men desiring to enlist for this service should have a knowledge of wireless telegraphy and must be able to ride. Those wishing to joind should make application to the Officer-in-Charge, Engineers' Depot, Moore Park, Sydney. All passenger ships are bound to carry wireless operators.



The monitor is a flat bottomed warship with revolving gun turrets. The name was first given to the particular kind of ironclad invented for the American Navy by Captain John Ericsson in 1862. The letter of Ericsson to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy of January 1862 gives the inventor's reason for the name. "The impregnable and aggressive character of this structure will admonish the leaders of the Southern Rebellion that the batteries on the banks of their rivers will no longer present barriers to the entrance of the Union forces. The ironclad intruder will thus prove a severe monitor to those leaders."



The fact of your having a business would not prevent your being called up if conscription were introduced in Australia. As you have no dependents and are physically fit and of suitable age, you would have to go. You would be given time to sell, transfer, or lease your business to others; or you might put it into the hands of a manager who could not be called to the colours: but its existence would not be permitted to stand between you and your duty. The State would not take it over. Its disposal would be a matter of speculation. You must consider for yourself whether it would be better to sell out at a reasonable figure, or to risk it in the hands of another.


"Under Size"

If you are rejected for the infantry by the medical officer, you are rejected for every unit. The medical examination is the same for everybody. When enlisting you state your qualifications or predilection for and special work; but you are enrolled as an infantryman, and have to take your chance of being drafted to the desired corps later on. There are grades in ambulance work, as in other departments; but a non medical man cannot rise above non-commissioned rank. No definite age can be stated when an individual has reached maturity; some are mature earlier than others. If you are not over 20, you should work on the manual of physical exercise used by the military authorities. You will find it as good as any.

Further Reading:

The Query Club


Citation: Query Club, 19 January 1916

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 12 April 2009 9:15 AM EADT
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


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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

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