The German Army in Field Grey Uniforms
on Ottoman Fronts 1914-18

Figure 1
Artilleryman
Palestine 1918

Figure 2
Officer
Ottoman Empire c1916

Figure 3
Artillery Officer
Palestine 1917
 
Field Grey Uniforms of the German Army on Ottoman Fronts in the First World War
   

While some German officers and NCOs serving in Ottoman units wore Ottoman Uniforms and the Asienkorps wore Khaki Tropical Uniforms for a period, the majority of German army personnel serving in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War wore standard field grey German army uniforms as worn in Europe.

These were sometimes issued (or privately tailored in the case of many officers and senior NCOs) in lightweight versions for hot climates but did not differ in cut or appearance from the standard uniforms worn on European fronts during the First World War.

Most varieties of German army field grey uniforms have been seen in period photographs taken in the Ottoman Empire including the 1910 Infantry/Artillery Waffenrock, the Modified 1910 Waffenrock with plain cuffs, the 1915 Bluse, the Officers 1903 Litewka, the Officers and Other Ranks 1915 greatcoats and occasionally 1910 Cavalry Tunics such as the Ulanka and Attila were worn by Pilots in Palestine.

Headdress worn by these troops was usually the peakless (or peaked for officers and senior NCOs) field cap. It was made in field grey with hatband and piping in arm of service colours, with a small imperial cockade above a small state cockade (see Cockades Details Page). Pickelhaubes and steel helmets were very rarely worn.

Sometimes combinations of German and Ottoman Uniforms were worn together and period photographs showing groups of German officers together often show some wearing German and others wearing Ottoman uniforms. Similarly some photographs show combinations of field grey and Khaki Tropical Uniforms worn together.

The subject of Imperial German field grey uniforms is huge and has been covered very well in many publications (see below for a list of recommended books).

 


Uniform of a German Army Staff Officer
on display at the Askeri Museum, Istanbul
Photo by C Dale

   
     
 

The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a German Artilleryman of the Asienkorps taken in Palestine in 1918. Although the Asienkorps were issued a khaki khaki tropical uniform, they also brought their field grey uniforms with them for wear during cold weather. Due to the khaki uniform's similarity to enemy uniforms and other impracticalities in wear and issue, during 1918 it was largely replaced by standard European issue field grey for all ranks.

This artilleryman is dressed the same as he would have been on the Western Front in 1918. He wears a peakless other ranks field cap with a field grey band worn over the coloured hatband so as to be less conspicuous. His wears a standard German 1915 tunic with the shoulder straps removed, again to be less obvious to snipers but also so as not to give away unit information in the event of capture. He wears standard slate grey trousers (possibly with red piping) and field grey puttees with black ankle boots.

His equipment is a blackened leather belt with a painted grey army belt buckle (although these were originally issued with state emblems on them, most were issued in standard Prussian design by this late stage in the war irrespective of the unit's state origin). He is armed with a Mauser K98az Carbine.

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a German Officer taken in the Ottoman Empire probably around 1916. He wears an Ottoman officers' lambs wool Kalpak (see Ottoman Uniforms) along with a privately tailored German 1910 officers' tunic. The 1910 infantry tunic had eight buttons down the front and hip pockets only. Three buttoned Brandenburg cuffs were worn by most infantry regiments piped in red. His darker collar (seemingly without the standard red piping) is a variation due to private tailoring. His rank is again shown on the braided shoulder straps. On his right breast he wears the Ottoman "Halbmond" war medal (see Medals Details Page), on his left breast he has a small strip of medals worn as miniature ribbons, below that he wears another medal that is difficult to see in the original photograph but is most likely an Iron Cross first class, while he has the Iron Cross second class worn in his second buttonhole. His trousers are of the noticeably lighter slate grey shade while his footwear cannot be seen in the original photograph.

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a German Artillery Officer of the Asienkorps taken in Palestine in about 1917. This officer is again wearing the same uniform as he would have worn on the Western front. He wears an officer's peaked field cap in field grey with hatband in arm-of-service colours (in this case black edged with red for the artillery) and an imperial (black/white/red) cockade above a state cockade (in this case black/white/black for Prussia). He wears an officer's field grey double-breasted 1915 "Kleiner Rock" Litewka tunic (again with collar patches and piping in arm-of-service colours) and an Iron Cross second class in his second buttonhole. Officers uniforms often being privately tailored varied in shade, many being paler and less green than standard issue field grey. Rank is displayed on the braided shoulder straps. He wears field grey riding breeches and black leather gaiters and ankle boots.

 
     

Sources and Recommended Reading
"Imperial German Army Handbook 1914-18" D Nash (Ian Allen 1980)
"The German Army 1914-18" DSV Fosten, RJ Marrion and G Embleton (Osprey 1978)
"World War One German Army" S Bull (Brassey's 2000)
"The German Army in World War One (3)" N Thomas and R Bujiero (Osprey 2003)
"Die feldgraue Uniformierung des deutschen Heeres 1907-1918" by J Kraus W Hanne (Verlag Militaria 2009)
"The German Army in the First World War" J Kraus (
Verlag Militaria 2004)

 
 

Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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