Discover more from The Tactical Notebook
Ottoman Forces at Gallipoli in 1913
Ideal Infantry Divisions
During the winter of 1912/1913, Hans Rhode served in the headquarters of the Ottoman field army charged with keeping the Dardanelles closed to the warships of the Royal Hellenic Navy.1 Soon thereafter, he wrote a short history of the resulting campaign, the first in the twentieth century to take place on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This little book provides, among many other things, a complete order of battle, down to the level of infantry battalions, field artillery batteries, and cavalry squadrons, of the Ottoman divisions engaged in that struggle.
The structure of some of these divisions, particular that of the 30th, 31st and 32nd Nizam Divisions, followed the ideal pattern laid down for formations of that type. 2 Thus, each consisted of three (neatly numbered) infantry regiments (each of three battalions), two machine gun companies, a battalion of chasseurs, a squadron of men on horseback, and a battalion of field artillery. (Each of the machine gun companies belonged to one of three infantry regiments. The number of each chasseur battalion matched that of its parent division.)
Readers who share my fondness for ordnance of the horse-drawn persuasion will notice the irregular allocation of field artillery. While the 30th Nizam Division had taken the field with its organic field artillery battalion, the 31st and 32nd Nizam Divisions had left their field artillery battalions behind when they embarked for the Dardanelles. (In the 32nd Nizam Division, a battalion of mountain guns took the place of the missing field pieces. The 31st Nizam Division, however, was obliged to spend the campaign bereft of artillery of any sort.)
Prior to taking service with the forces of the Sublime Porte, Hans Rohde had been an officer in one of the armies of the German Empire. In the years after the Gallipoli campaign of 1913, he published eight books, six of which dealt with issues related to that great event.
A nizam division corresponded to an “active” division of the contemporary armies of France and Germany. That is, it was composed largely of soldiers who had been serving “with the colors” at the start of the war.