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Monday, May 15, 2017

Bolt Action - A look at the Turks in WW2

I have been inspired recently by articles from Patch (regarding non veteran/early war armies, found here) and Casey (regarding his foray into the armies of Romania, link here. As always needing a reason to buy even more minis I felt that the time was right for me to take up the challenge and build myself a unique and decidedly non-veteran army and for personal reasons I quickly settled on the Army of Turkey. I'll hazard a guess that a few might exclaim ”I think you'll find that the Turks never fought in the second world war!”. This is certainly true, but I didn't let absolute historical accuracy and the fact of a nation being a non-belligerent stop me when I built my Swedish WW2 army and I won't let it get in the way of my hobby now either. As such I started to aggressively trawl the internet for any and all information that I could find regarding the Turkish army during ww2.

As it turns out there really isn't much information out there. Obviously this doesn't come as a huge surprise since the fact that Turkey wasn't an active participant in the conflict means that only a select number have had any interest in the Turkish armed forces of the time. The search for information and images is further complicated by the fact that the Ottoman empire, from which ashes the modern Turkish nation was to rise, was an active belligerent in WW1. As such it is sometimes hard to determine when a certain picture was taken and if the image is of WW1 Ottoman or ww2 Turkish soldiers.

However the information that I have found has proved to be rather interesting. I have found references that the Turkish infantry most likely at the start of the conflict in Europe had access to some German MP 18 Bergmann SMGs as well as the somewhat portable ”LMG” MG 15/08 and the Hotchkiss Mark 1 LMG. I have also found images of both the Brodie and the Adrian helmets in use with Turkish infantry although exactly when the Turkish army gained possession of these helmets is unclear.

It also seems that the Turks were at least somewhat successful at playing out the major powers against each other in their bid to sway Turkey into taking their side. What this meant for the Turkish army was that during the years of the conflict it came into possession of both Axis and Allied war materiel. I have only been able to find mention of the types and amount of tanks that were given, but I don't feel that it's implausible that the Turkish armed forces also came to receive other military aid as well in the form of infantry equipment and weapons. Possibly this is the source of the Adrian- and the Brodie helmets. The Tanks that were given were Panzer IIIs and IVs, Sherman's, Valentines, Stuarts as well as a number of Bren carriers. I should also be noted that the Turkish army already had in their possession a number of T-26 tanks and B-6 armored cars bought from the soviet union prior to the outbreak of war.

At first I found the lack of information quite difficult to deal with. However at a certain point I simply decided that the lack of information was actually a boon since it allows me to use any and all
kinds of quirky weapons which might well have ended up in service with the Turkish army. A fighting force which must have been quite desperate for any kind of weaponry that could pass for a light machine gun or a sub machine gun. I am using this desperation to also justify the use of some older WW1 and interwar era weapons since some of these are likely to have been captured by the Ottomans during WW1 and subsequently found their way into the hands of the nascent Turkish armed forces. I therefore decided to hunt down any and all miniatures armed with French Chauchats, FM 24/29s and Hotchkiss Mark 1 LMGs, Italian Breda m-30s, British Lewis guns as well as German mg 15/08s. I found quite a few suitable miniatures and also ordered a bunch of WW1 Ottoman infantry miniatures (since as far as I have been able to tell the uniform didn't changed all that much in between the two world wars. I ordered these miniatures from the North star miniatures, Empress miniatures, Gripping beasts and Eureka miniatures webshops.

 For my actual Bolt Action army I plan on using the Soviet army list and fielding a mechanized yet predominantly inexperienced force, portraying a fictitious ”elite” Hücum Tabulari or Assault detachment. A unit which has been given some of the more modern equipment available to the Turkish military at the time, but whose men all the same are lacking in experience. I plan on trying to use some of the same tactics described by Bryan in his great article about his German Aufklärungs force, but obviously with the necessary changes to account for my assault force being made up of almost entirely inexperienced infantry. I imagine my force will be quite the glass hammer but I'm hoping that when the hammer blow connects it will be enough to swing me to victory! In any case I know I will have fun and that is what is most important after all!


Jakob never rests in his search for unique forces and I cant wait for the follow up articles! Patch


Sultanbev said...

I have a WW2 Turkish army in 15mm! I can send some pics if you wish.

Full detailed TOE are available on the Wargames Vault. Not sure if I'm allowed to put a link here?

Mark Bevis

Bob Bob said...

There are a few snipets here:

It describes when some british equipment was supplied to the turks.

Sultanbev said...

The following WW2 Turkish organisation charts are available in the MicroMark collection on the Wargames Vault:
T33: Turkish Army Order of Battle, Turkey, 1934-1937
T34: Turkish Armoured Brigade, Thrace, Turkey, 1937-1939
T35: Turkish 2nd Cavalry Division, Thrace, Turkey, 1936-1939
T36: Turkish Armoured Brigade, Thrace, Turkey, 1940-1942
T37: Turkish Infantry Division, Turkey, 1937-1939
T38: Turkish Infantry Division, Turkey, 1940-1942
T39: Turkish Mobilisation Infantry Division, Turkey, 1941-1943
T40: Turkish Corps and Army Support, Turkey, 1940-1942
T41: Turkish Army Order of Battle, Turkey, 1941-1942
T42: Turkish Mountain Brigade, Turkey, 1939-1943
T43: Turkish 1st & 2nd Armoured Brigades, Turkey, 1943-1945
T44: Turkish 3rd Armoured Brigade, Turkey, 1943
T45: Turkish 3rd Armoured Division, Turkey, 1944-1946
T46: Turkish Infantry Division, Turkey, 1943-1947
T47: Turkish Cavalry Division, Turkey, 1940-1945

Notes are weapons and uniforms are included.
Basically, if you are doing 1939-1941, use WW2 French figures.
If you are doing 1943-1945, use WW2 British figures.
The Turks did mobilise in 1941 and in 1944. The former when Barbarossa started. The latter when the Russians swept into the Balkans.

There are several plausible scenarios for using the Turks.
One is they join in with the Axis in 1941 and fight the Russians. Although I doubt that Bulgaria or Romania would have allowed Turkish troops transit rights.
Another is late war vs the Russians, Bulgarians, Hungarians or Romanians, swept up in the Soviet offensive through the Balkans. Alternatively, fighting alongside turned Axis troops against Germans in the Balkans.

A more unusual variant would be Turks against Syria. The British at one point feared the Turks would try to take Syria in 1941-42, and deployed Australians relieved from Tobruk to protect Syria. So Turks against mid 1941 to early 1942 CW wouldn't be totally out of place.
Other more esoteric options would be against Iraq or Iran in 1941, which would pit Ba-6, T-26B, Vickers VIB and R-35 against Iraqi CV35 or Persian LT vz.38s. And of course, an excuse to field lots of cavalry :)

Unknown said...

All extremly interesting info! And yes I would love to see your Turkish 15 mm army!
- Jakob

Sultanbev said...

Is there a forum thread for this article? It looks like I can't post pictures in here.

Jakob Lotz said...

Currently no. You can find the article in the bolt action alliance group on facebook too. PM me there and we can get in touch. :) thankfull for any and all help I can get :)
- Jakob

leang heng said...

Really nice infor!

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