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Post Info TOPIC: Turks on the Western Front?


Corporal

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Turks on the Western Front?
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I understand the Turks sent troops to fight on Germanys Eastern front but I was wondering if any fought on the Western Front? I have found the following old reference to a Turkish cemetery on the Western Front from another forum but no more than that.

 

"The source is issue 27 of 'Gun Fire', p.42, the journal of the North Yorks WFA p.42.  The author is Dr. Alf Peacock, a professional historian.  Alf edited 'Gun Fire' and occasionally included a section called 'Before Endeavours Fade', intended to plug the gaps missed by Rose Coombs.  He also explored Verdun, the Vosges and those other parts of the Front largely neglected by the British visitor.

In the aforementioned issue Dr. Peacock describes a drive from Prény, a village on the west bank of the Moselle, about 20 kilometres south of Metz.  He took a minor road westward to Thiaucourt, site of the St. Mihel US cemetery.  He then says:

" ... very shortly [the road] passes through a forest.  Go into the part immediately on the right ... On the left where the wood begins can be seen a large concrete bunker with the inscription 'Slehereits-Resalung'.  About 50 yards from it, near where a hunters' cabin is sited ; there is the site of Turkish graveyard.  According to one of the locals the bodies were removed from here in 1955.  The area of the graveyard is now overgrown".

The forest appears to be called the Bois de Grande Fontaine on my Michelin map fo the area."

 

After the Germans made peace with Russia, could Turkish troops have been sent to the West?



-- Edited by armchair on Monday 15th of July 2013 03:38:46 PM

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Major

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I don't think so there is no mention of the in the book "Ordered to die" which is a history of the Ottoman army in WW I or any other source on this army. I do know some Austrian troops were sent to Western front during WW I. I can't say if any of them were Moslems though.

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Legend

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Maybe "Un cimetière Turco" not Turkish at all..... I think this is likely Algerian, Sengalese or Morrocan...

Couple of links for "Turks" no Western Front though...

http://www.turkeyswar.com/europe.html

http://www.turkeyswar.com/campaigns_index.html

 

Cheerswink



-- Edited by Ironsides on Thursday 8th of August 2013 10:52:55 AM

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Corporal

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Thanks chaps.

Ironsides - I have been pointed towards that website already thanks.

I can't find any evidence for the Turks being on the Western Front but to me it seems at least plausable.

 

 



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Legend

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There certainly were Ottoman troops on the Eastern Front - there are a number of Rumanian field guns in Australia captured in Palestine from units which had

been in Rumania when it withdrew from the conflict in 1917.

Just a thought - we don't know the exact form of the grave markers - could they have been for Muslims serving with the Austro-Hungarian Army which did

send some units to the Western Front in 1918.

Regards,

Charlie



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Corporal

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I just thought once peace was made with Russia, the Turks on the Eastern Front would have been transferred to the West along the other German Eastern front units.

The Turks had over 100,000 fighting in the East and they were thought of highly by the Germans.



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Legend

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I'm not sure that's true - the Ottoman divisions in Rumania (15th, 25th and 26th Infantry Divisions) comprising the 6th Army Corps returned to Turkey.

The 15th went to the Caucasus, the 25th to Gallipoli and the 26th to Palestine. I'll ask on the Axishistory forum in the Ottoman section about the other

Ottoman Army Corps - the Turkish historians will probably know.

Regards,

Charlie



-- Edited by CharlieC on Thursday 8th of August 2013 02:32:39 PM

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Corporal

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Sorry my comment was meant as a supposition, not a fact. I feel there is good reasoning for the Turks to be on the Western Front but the reality is most likely that they weren't.

I would be interested to hear what the Turkish historians have to say so thanks for that.

 



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Legend

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I've had a reply to my query on Axishistory - the Ottoman units which served on the Eastern Front were:

"XV Corps (19th and 20th Divisions) served in Galicia (19th Division Aug 1916-Aug 1917, 20th Division Aug 1916-June 1917). 

VI Corps (15th and 25th Divisions) served in Romania (Sep 1916-Apr 1918 (25th Division departed Nov 1917). The 26th Division was added to the corps (Nov 1916-Mar 1917).

50th Division served in Macedonia (Sep 1916-May 1917). Joined by the 46th Division (Dec 1916-Mar 1917) to form the XX Corps. An independent unit, 177th Infantry Regiment, served in Western Macedonia (Dec 1916-Jun 1918)."

It's noted that most of the Ottoman units went to Palestine once they left the Eastern Front.

Regards,

Charlie



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Corporal

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Charlie,

Thanks very much for that information. Really appreciated.

Peter

 

 



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Legend

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The original query remains though - what was the "Turkish" cemetery.

I believe the French war graves commission (or what ever they called themselves) created separate Muslim sections in war cemeteries.

The original graves in the cemetery south of Metz could have been Muslim soldiers in the French Army or, just possibly, Bosniaks in

the Austro-Hungarian Army. The headstones in a Muslim cemetery often have Koranic verses inscribed in Arabic - one could believe

the locals thought the graves were Turkish.

Regards,

Charlie 



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Corporal

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I am wondering though if there is a record of the 1955 removal of the bodies and where they went to?

I have asked the question of what I believe to be the French equivalent of the War Graves Commission as they may have a record of this.

 



-- Edited by armchair on Friday 9th of August 2013 09:47:27 AM

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Legend

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Dr. Peacock's account prompted the same question almost a decade ago:  http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=30170

There are some things to bear in mind.

"Turco" was a nickname conferred on Algerian Tirailleurs in the 1850s. One explanation here

Slehereits-Resalung isn't German. The "inscription" must have been faded, damaged, or eroded, and Dr. Peacock can't have known German. The first word is almost certainly Sicherheit (safety, security) and the second very likely Rüstung (armour, weaponry). I would have expected them to be written as one word, Sicherheitsrüstung. I'd like to know more about the context, but the inscription seems to be referring to safety equipment, or maybe body armour.

After the Russian collapse, Germany and Turkey fell out. Turkey tried to cash in on Russia's impotence by retaking territory and attempting to seize Baku and suchlike. Can't remember the exact details, but Turkey's actions breached the Brest-Litovsk Treaty somehow, and German troops occupying Russia had to defend Russian territory and resources from Turks, to the extent that military action took place. Turks wouldn't have been welcome on the Western Front. On top of which, Turkey was too busy defending herself in Mesopotamia and Palestine to get involved with Germany's problems. I'll try to dig out more on that.

Dr. Peacock is, sadly, no longer in a position to provide clarification. In its absence, my answer to the question would be a definite "No".

Later that same day, after due reflection: the second word of the inscription must be Festung - stronghold, fortified position. Sicherheitsfestung is definitely a word.



-- Edited by James H on Saturday 10th of August 2013 10:04:31 PM

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Pat


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Sicherheitsfestung (security fortress) may be a word, but it makes little sense since any Festung is supposed to give Sicherheit.

Maybe it was Bereitstellung or something else with ...stellung (position), but without seeing the remains of the inscription, it seems impossible to know for sure-

About the original question, I am no expert but never heared of Ottoman troops on the Western front, my money is on Muslims from the Austro-Hungarian or French army or captured Tsarist troops working behind the German lines.

 



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Legend

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It makes sense to the Germans. http://de.euronews.com/2011/05/25/deauville-die-exklusive-sicherheitsfestung/

The area in question was in the American sector. I've seen no reports of US troops encountering Austrians. IIRC the Austrians were sent to a relatively quiet sector - maybe somewhere in Belgium.

I reckon it's got to be French Colonials of some kind.



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Brigadier

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James H wrote:

The area in question was in the American sector. I've seen no reports of US troops encountering Austrians. IIRC the Austrians were sent to a relatively quiet sector - maybe somewhere in Belgium.


 

James, US soldiers did fight against Austro-Hungarian troops although this is not a widely known fact (for example there is completely no info about this in Wilson's "Treat 'em Rough" or "St. Mihiel 1918" by Osprey). But look here: http://www.geocities.com/haugh58/WF1918.html There are also a few sentences in Osprey's book about Austro-Hungarian forces. There is a very good book about Austro-Hungarian troops on the Western Front, but unfortunately it's in French only: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=6248348418&searchurl=kn%3DPrix%2BD%2527une%2BAlliance%253A%2BLes%2BAustro-Hongrois%26amp%3Bsts%3Dt%26amp%3Bx%3D59%26amp%3By%3D14



-- Edited by Albert on Friday 16th of August 2013 09:13:43 PM

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Pat


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James H wrote:

It makes sense to the Germans. http://de.euronews.com/2011/05/25/deauville-die-exklusive-sicherheitsfestung/


 

May I point towards the fact that euronews is a multi-lingual website and there is a strong possibility the text was not translated by a native speaker. Admittedly Google yields more results for "Sicherheitsfestung" but I checked the first 20 or so and remain unconvinced.

More to the point: Austro-Hungarian troops on the Western front are fairly well documented, please see below for starters. Apparently they fought the U.S. at the Verdun front. If memories serves, we discussed a photo of k.u.k. soldiers captured by U.S. troops here.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=124980

http://militaryhistorynow.com/2012/10/01/the-forgotten-armies-of-the-western-front-1914-to-1918/

http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=67&t=23389

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=172714



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Legend

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Albert & Pat: I stand corrected. Very informative. Many thanks for those links. I wonder if some investigation of the KuK XXXVth Division would throw some light on its ethnic make-up. IIRC, A-H had a policy of sending Slav troops to the Italian Front, so that they wouldn't be pitted against fellow Slavs in the East, but would there be any particular reason for sending Muslims to face the French, particularly since there was a good chance they would come up against French Muslim troops? In fact, I've seen something (can't remember what exactly) that says there were French colonials alongside the Americans in the St. Mihiel sector. This also means the German Uniform Timeline on Landships II needs amending.

Either way, I can't imagine there were any Turks there, and the reference must be to French "Turcos".

As regards Sicherheitsfestung, I'm making an educated guess as to what Dr. Peacock might actually have seen. I agree it's tautological. In the old Profile Publication on the A7V, one of the photos is captioned as an A7V with the name "Tentasic" painted on it. On closer inspection, the name is "Mephisto", but you can see how the mistake has been made. "Slehereits" must be "Sicherheits" rather than "Bereits", but I'm open to suggestions as to what "Resalung" might have been. I thought the F was more likely to be taken for an R.



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Brigadier

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James H wrote:

Albert & Pat: I stand corrected. Very informative. Many thanks for those links. I wonder if some investigation of the KuK XXXVth Division would throw some light on its ethnic make-up. IIRC, A-H had a policy of sending Slav troops to the Italian Front, so that they wouldn't be pitted against fellow Slavs in the East, but would there be any particular reason for sending Muslims to face the French, particularly since there was a good chance they would come up against French Muslim troops? In fact, I've seen something (can't remember what exactly) that says there were French colonials alongside the Americans in the St. Mihiel sector. This also means the German Uniform Timeline on Landships II needs amending.

Either way, I can't imagine there were any Turks there, and the reference must be to French "Turcos".


 

I have that French book about Austro-Hungarian troops on the Western Front, I'll check it later and write more, but I remember that there were a lot of Slavs in that division. On the Eastern Front Slavs also fought and there were situations where whole units surrendered to Russians.

Turks didn't fight on the Western Front, but they certainly fought on the Eastern Front.



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Dan B

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I can directly confirm this. My grandfather was a Palestinian jew born in Jerusalem. He was drafted into the ottoman army, and because he spoke Yiddish, which is a German dialect, in 1918 he to was sent to fight with the Germans in France. He fought against the French, and he would tell me stories of trench raids, bombardments, etc. His story was well known by friends and family.

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