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The Air War in the Southern Caucasus 1916-17

Unique aerial photographs of the Armenian Highlands

 

This article by Peter Dye came about because of the chance purchase of a dozen prints from aerial photographs taken in the Ottoman Empire’s Eastern Provinces during the First World War.


Researching their history has revealed new details of the fighting between the Ottoman and Russian armies, rarely mentioned in popular histories of the First World War, and of the tragedy that befell the Armenian communities of the Eastern Provinces. Many of the images show abandoned villages, their roofs missing and the population either killed or deported. The scale of the destruction is sobering, as is the rugged beauty of the landscape, dominated by high mountain ranges, steep-sided valleys, and swift flowing streams. Winter comes early to the Armenian Highlands and lasts deep into Spring. There are few roads or large towns, but numerous small settlements can be found, scattered across the valleys and high plains. The area is dominated by the Euphrates River and its tributaries that flow west from the mountains, north of the Taurus, before turning south towards Syria and Iraq. It is difficult to believe that a war was fought here or that these photographs represent the very first aerial views of this remote and inaccessible region, providing a unique record of a landscape and a way of life that disappeared with the Armenian genocide of 1915.


A contemporary French map showing the Russian advance in Armenia, January - February 1916

Most of the prints are uncaptioned and none are dated. Modern satellite imagery has allowed a few locations to be identified, but many remain ‘unknown’. The region has changed hugely over the last hundred years as rapid economic development (and, sadly, natural disasters) have literally transformed the land. However, it is hoped that someone reading this article may be able to identify the remaining locations. A further complication in this search is that most settlements have changed names over the last century. To make matters more difficult, many villages in the Armenian Highlands were known by several different names - depending on the community or language involved. Where possible, both ‘original’ and contemporary names are identified.


Albatros C.III AK58 which served with 10 TyB from May-October 1917.    :FAAM JMB/GSL 08198

By early 1916, the war was not going well for the Ottoman Empire. Admittedly, the Allies had been forced to give up their bridgehead in Gallipoli, evacuating their forces in the face of an aggressive Ottoman defence. In Mesopotamia, the British had been surrounded at Kut, south of Baghdad, and would soon surrender. However, the initial Ottoman offensives against the Russians in the Caucasus and the British in Egypt had been costly failures. Although the Ottoman army had been bolstered by the loan of German staff officers, they lacked modern aircraft. As a result, Germany had sent increasing numbers of aircraft and aviation personnel to support the small Ottoman air service and, from March 1916, entire flying units. These ‘Pascha’ squadrons proved invaluable, although they were handicapped by the long supply lines to Germany.


A German map showing the frontlines in the Ottoman Eastern Provinces, January 1915 - August 1918

The Allied withdrawal from Gallipoli allowed the Ottoman High Command to reinforce their positions in the Eastern Provinces. The experienced Ottoman 2nd Army, transferred from the Dardanelles, took over the southern part of the front while the Ottoman 3rd Army attempted to halt further Russian advances in the north. It was hoped that the Ottoman 2nd Army would threaten the flank of any future Russian offensive, however, most of its units were not in position when the Russians launched a major attack between Trabzon and Lake Vad, inflicting severe casualties on the Ottoman 3rd Army.  Erzurum (present-day Erzerum) was captured on 1 March 1916, followed by Trabzon on 15 April and Erzincan on 25 July. There was now a danger that further Russian advances could see them link up with the British in Mesopotamia. The presence of a RNAS armoured car detachment, part of the British Armoured Car Expeditionary Force under Lieutenant-Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, which helped the Russians capture Musch (Moush) in August 1916, may have made this possibility look all the more likely.


The 10th Aeroplane Detachment

Although the Ottoman 3rd Army had been able to call on 7nci Tayyare Böluk (7th Aeroplane Detachment) for air reconnaissance, the 2nd Army lacked any air support. A new unit, 10ncu Tayyare Böluk (10th Aeroplane Detachment), was formed at Istanbul for service in the Eastern Provinces. It left for the front on 1 September 1916, equipped with five Albatros C.III aircraft, but took nearly two months to arrive at Diyarbekir, (present-day Diyarbakir) via Ras El-Ain and Mardin. The unit comprised just seven aircrew - three German pilots (Ltn Westfal and Sgts Jakop and Frankl) and four Ottoman observers (Lts Ahmet Muzaffer, Nuri, Mazlum and Bahaddin). They eventually reached HQ 2nd Army at Harput (Kharpert) on 9 November 1916, setting up a landing ground in the village of Sursuru (present-day Olgunlar), close to the town of Mezre, Mamuret ul Aziz (present-day Elazig) in the valley below Harput. The unit soon began reconnaissance missions, even though it had few aircraft (reduced to four after a landing accident on 16 November) and a serious lack of spare parts – including propellers and tyres.


A poor, but interesting, image showing one of the 10th Aeroplane Detachment’s Albatros C.III aircraft in transit to Mezre in the summer/autumn of 1916. The aircraft were towed on their wheels, with the wings and tailplanes stowed on carts. Note the national markings (a black square on a larger white square) applied to the fuselage side.


The wreckage of the Albatros C.III from the 7th Aeroplane Detachment brought down over Erzincan on 8 October 1917 by Kapitan Mikhail Machavariani (centre right, in the forage cap).

The Imperial Russian Air Service also operated over the Armenian Highlands, employing up to twice as many aircraft (although some were outdated types), including single-seat fighters. On 1 August 1917, the Russians had some 21 aircraft grouped into four squadrons, compared to 10 machines (all two-seaters) equipping the two Ottoman squadrons. Both sides focussed on reconnaissance tasks, but also conducted occasional bombing raids against military camps and depots. Air combat was rare, and generally ended inconclusively. Only one machine was lost during these engagements, an Albatros C.III belonging to the 7th Aeroplane Detachment shot down over Erzincan on 8 October 1917 (25 September 1917, Julian calendar) after it had dropped three bombs on the aerodrome. The victory was credited to Kapitan Mikhail Machavariani, flying a Nieuport XXI. Machavariani, who commanded the Russian 2nd Caucasian Squadron, was a skilled and energetic pilot who had been involved in several previous (unsuccessful) air combats.  The Ottoman crew, MSgt Vehici Hurkus & Lt Bahattin (who had recently transferred from the 10th Aeroplane Detachment) were both captured, although they managed to burn their machine on landing.


The 10th Aeroplane Detachment comprised both German and Ottoman pilots and observers, who regularly flew as mixed crews. This image shows an unidentified Ottoman pilot with a German Air Service NCO at a flying training station in Germany.

It is difficult to exaggerate the challenges faced when flying in such a rugged and mountainous region. The weather was often poor and always unpredictable. The crews had to climb their aircraft to a considerable height to cross the intervening mountain ranges, enduring severe cold and a lack of oxygen. The limited supply of spares caused continuous maintenance problems, including unreliable engines, but there were few places where a safe landing could be made. Poor maps and the threat of air attack, as well as the experience of being regularly shot at from the ground (by both armies) further increased the strain felt by aviators on all sides.


A German observer operating the hand-held F.K.II oblique camera. By 1917, aerial cameras could produce high quality vertical and oblique images using both glass-plates and roll-film.

The first operational flight from Elazig took place on 20 November when Sgt Jakop and Lt Muzaffer were tasked with a reconnaissance in support of the 2nd Army’s planned offensive, however, this ended with a forced landing shortly after take-off. Sgt Jakop and Lt Mehmet Nuri had a more successful flight on 28 November, reaching Göynük (Ognut). Further flights took place on 30 November and 8 December. The onset of winter and a lack of spares meant that no more flying was possible, and the remaining aircraft were sheltered in an abandoned church.


Contemporary German map of the Armenian Highlands, showing the frontline in 1917 (green) and key locations mentioned in the text

As a result of the heavy losses sustained the previous year, the 2nd and 3rd Ottoman Armies were combined in early 1917 to form the ‘Eastern Armies Group’, under the command of Ahmet İzzet Paşa, who was preparing for a spring offensive against the Russians. However, poor weather, attrition (including the death of Lt Nuri in a flying accident) and the lack of spares meant that by March 1917 there were no serviceable machines on the entire front. Replacement aircraft were despatched from Istanbul in May, the 10th Aeroplane Detachment receiving four new Albatros C.III in June - flown to Elazig via Marash (present-day Maras) and Malatya rather than being sent overland. Further reinforcements included three pilots and three observers. All the aerial images accompanying this article were taken during this period and can be dated to between May and November 1917.


10th Aeroplane Detachment Albatros C.III and crew - on their return from a successful reconnaissance mission


Because the unit had to cover some 400 kms of the front, from Erzincan to Lake Van, advanced landing grounds were set up at Sekerat (Yasibasi) and later at Garip. The difficulty of supplying these sites meant that Elazig remained the 10th Aeroplane Detachment’s main base for the remainder of the year. Flying operations soon restarted, including a reconnaissance to Göynük by Sgt Kleinehayk and Lt Siege on 5 May 1917. They reported that the enemy could not be seen on the roads leading east from Varto to the Moush (present-day Muş) plain, although there were Russian troops around Göynük village. Unfortunately, the aircraft crashed on the return flight because of an oil leak, injuring the crew.


A poor quality, but interesting, image of an Ottoman Albatros C.III, with damage to its starboard lower wing, surrounded by interested bystanders

During an air reconnaissance around Varto and Hiniıs (Khnous) on 16 June 1917, it was reported that a Russian division could be seen in Varto, with tented encampments containing a corps in the vicinity of Hinis, together with an aircraft hangar and tent that could accommodate four aircraft. During this reconnaissance, an air battle was fought with two Russian aircraft although the results were inconclusive. An aerial reconnaissance in the direction of Manzikert (Malazgirt) revealed that there were many tents and two aircraft hangars and about three regiments around Bulanik (Kop). On 28 June 1917, an aircraft took off from the advanced landing ground at Garip to reconnoitre the area around Göynük and Moush.  The next day, separate flights reached the Russian bases at Mamahatun (Tercan) and Erzurum.


The observer of an Albatros C.III demonstrates the use of the longer focal length (70cm) hand-held camera (F.K.III)

Although aerial reconnaissance continued through the remainder of 1917, the fighting on the ground lost its intensity with the uncertainty created by the Russian Revolution. The 10th Aeroplane Detachment continued to gather intelligence, including sorties to Malazgirt and Bulanik on 10 July and, a week later, to Mamahatun. The 2nd Army remained keenly interested in the enemy situation around the Göynük valley as this offered a direct route to Erzurum. On 13 August, targets around Erzincan were attacked including, fortifications, artillery positions, ammunition depots and the aerodrome (to the north of the city). Four aircraft and associated facilities were bombed, while there was an inconclusive air combat with a Russian fighter (once again, this was probably Machavariani flying his Nieuport XXI). Although the attack was claimed as a success, a contemporary Russian account says that the ‘bombs’ were 20 kg anti-personnel fragmentation grenades that largely missed their targets and caused little damage. On 31 August 1917, during a reconnaissance around Göynük, a regiment-sized encampment was seen by the Göynük watercourse.

On September 1, 1917, the unit was tasked with exploring the enemy situation in the region up to Erzincan via the Euphrates. In the subsequent reconnaissance, flown from the forward landing ground at Garip, three Russian companies were found by the river, two aircraft hangars and two aeroplanes around the school in the north of Erzincan, and a battalion camp near the barracks. An attack by a Russian fighter (likely to have been Kapitan Machavariani, who reported an unsuccessful combat) was fought off before the crew returned safely. During the remainder of September, multiple aerial reconnaissance missions were carried out around Erzincan, Moush, Bitlis, Malazgirt, and Başkale. These flights continued in October and November, ranging as far as Lake Van.  

Any further Russian land operations in the Eastern Provinces were halted with the Bolshevik Revolution. Russian troops were soon withdrawn from the Eastern Provinces, to be replaced by Armenian irregular units. The few remaining Russian aircraft were withdrawn to Tiflis and Yerevan where they provided the basis for the fledgling Georgian and Armenian Air Services. The 10th Aeroplane Detachment was heavily involved in monitoring the retreat, undertaking long flights as far as Bitlis, Malazkirt, Moush, Siirt and Van. Little flying was done in November because of the poor weather, although the opportunity was taken to drop propaganda leaflets over Russian positions. No more missions were undertaken after 29 November, when the unit was ordered to Silvan, via Diyarbakir. However, as its aircraft were so worn out it could no longer continue to operate. In the absence of replacements, the 10th Aeroplane Detachment was effectively disbanded. Following the peace treaty signed with the new Russian Revolutionary Government on 3 March 1918, the Ottoman 3rd Army reoccupied Trabzon, Erzurum, Kars, Van, and Batumi.

APPENDIX

The following account, titled ‘Ein Aufklärungsflug im Kaukasus’, was published in the German aviation magazine Flugsport on 31 January 1917. It appears to have been written by Lt Westfal, who commanded the 10th Aeroplane Detachment in 1916.


The crew of an Ottoman Albatros C.III prepares to take off on another reconnaissance mission.

From Rais-ul-ein (Ras al-Ayn), Head of the Sweet Water, the terminus of the Baghdad Railway, the path leads through the foothills of the great Syrian desert, past Tel Erme, a former large Armenian city, now a single pile of rocks, up into the foothills of the Armenian Taurus, on which the city of Mardin lies. We had given surfaces and aircraft accessories to a column of motorists who maintain the connection between Rais-ul-ein and Mardin, and we drove ahead ourselves with the aircraft, which were attached to our two horsepower (ox-strength) transport wagons. The way was partly through the previous rain softened and impassable. So, it was time to get down and help push. But that is also part of a trip. We could have brought the devices to our destination by air, but the aviation inspection did not give their permission for this - the poetry and humour of life celebrate the greatest triumphs in the most fatal situations. Overturned wagons, boxes and boxes lying around, broken wheels, lame oxen, petrol barrels rolled down the slope, which could only be brought up again with the greatest difficulty, caused a thousand times more amusement than if everything had gone according to plan. We finally got to Mardin, but the machines hadn't gotten any better along the way. An Austrian column of drivers drove from Mardin to Diarbecks [Diyarbakir] and dragged us there. Diarbecks, the city with the black dogs, black walls, and black hearts, says an old Arabic proverb. With their dark basalt walls, their gates, and towers; as it still stands today, it dates from the Byzantine period and was built in the 6th century, when Diarbecks was still Raia-amid or Amida after its loss to the Persians and became the main border fortress of the empire against the east. Here, on the preliminary stage of the Armenian highlands should first German pilots astonish the population with their apparatuses. At the back of the north gate, the so-called Charput [Harput] gate, next to a large cemetery, we pitched our tents. In a few days we were able to go on the test flights and I am not saying too much, when the residents, who had never seen a flying machine in their life, had never heard of the art of human flight, heard the roar of the 160 hp Mercedes, they hurried to the square in droves. Old and young, men, women and children, everything with legs, ran out to see the German aviators. A swarm of colors that only the Orient can produce. Deeply veiled women and girls in red, yellow, green, black headscarves, men in long robes and white burnous. A colourful wall surrounded the field. With the stoic calm inherent in the Orientals, they sat from morning to noon to see the big bird. Shortly before noon I started for the first time and soon circled above the old venerable city, on whose flat roofs it was swarming like an anthill. The dirty yellow waters of the Tigris rolled lazily past the city, which was brooding in the heat. In the north lay the high snow-capped mountain giants of the Armenian and Anti-Taurus, in the distance the smooth surface of Lake Göldjik [Lake Golu], lying in the mountains, blinked. What would the ancient Persians have said if they saw this eerie bird in the air? I started three more times to really try out the engine, which had suffered from the long journey, was dusty and dirty. Every time we landed, there was a hoot and clap of hands from the audience, which vividly reminded me of days gone by, when we barely got a few metres from the earth with the old wire machines, while the audience offered frenetic jubilation. The next morning, I started to our location ‘M’ [ Merze] on the other side of the Taurus. In 4,000 metres, I crossed the mountains, it was freezing cold. Above the mountains the machine became very restless at times, which was probably due to the contrary winds. Lake Göldjik, at an altitude of almost 2,000 metres, was already covered at the edges with a thick layer of ice. After a flight of an hour and a half I arrived via Charput, described a few more spirals above the ‘M’ in the valley, and landed not far from the city at a small village where the place with the shining tents was. Izzet Pasha, the leader of the Ottoman 2nd Army, was just passing through to the headquarters and was personally present with his staff at the landing. Among the officers themselves there were some who had never seen an airplane and so we started with the boring explanation. After that too - I had to do some space flights again to demonstrate the safety of flying to the gentlemen - I was cold and hungry as a bear - but this test of patience also came to an end. Strong handshakes, most of the officers spoke fluent German - goodbye at headquarters and good luck - the entry into ‘M’ had reached its climax. On the following day and the day after that my comrades followed, we were four pilots, three Germans and one Turkish, the latter I never saw again after my departure from Diarbecks. He had driven his Albatros into the rushes right at the start and was already on his way back to Constantinople [Lt Sadettin]. In the next few days, we were able to carry out some successful front lies before the start of winter and on our return, which was connected with a landing at headquarters, we were awarded the "Iron Crescent." I will shortly be sending you more details about the flights over the Musch Plain.


A German supply convoy in the Taurus Mountains. The lack of good roads or railways meant that the movement of aircraft and spares for the 10th Aeroplane Detachment was a slow and difficult process, even when motorised vehicles were available

It is a few weeks since we arrived at our location on the other side of the Armenian Taurus, which we crossed in an hour and forty minutes with our Albatros aircraft.  The high command of the Ottoman 2nd Army had been waiting for our arrival for a long time and the commander of the army congratulated us on arrival.  Tents had been set up long beforehand by a commando sent ahead, and the frontline flights began in the next few days.  I would like to start by saying that these flights were very difficult in so far as there was no suitable landing site to be found over a distance of 150 km, since mountains meet with mountains.  On the morning of …. December, I was ready to start in front of the tent.  I had given my Turkish observer, a close friend, the necessary instructions beforehand. We flew using Turkish maps, but I had no clue, because although I had already learned the language to some extent, I could not decipher the writing.  Light fog and frost, which heralded the late arrival of winter, lay in the plain.  The fully loaded machine slowly rose into its element.  After I had reached 2,500 metres, I went east over the ridges enclosing the plain.  The sun had not yet risen over the snow-covered heads of the mountain giants, peaceful Göldjik Lake, the edges of which were already showing ice, in the middle of the mountains. The Euphrates with its strangely green, shimmering waters emerges directly behind the mountain ranges that enclose Mezre to the east. Following its course, we reached Palu in around sixty minutes, which is located at a mighty rock gate.  Here the Euphrates enters a partially unexplored area, the single great ravine branching eastwards into innumerable valleys, meandering through the rock masses before flowing through the plain of Chabakehur [Bingöl].  Gradually we reached 4000 metres. The mountains reach a height of 2,800 to 3,000 metres at Palu. After another three quarters of an hour, we had crossed this bare mountain range and were floating above the Chabakehur plain.  As far as the eye can see, nothing but mountains, dead, impassable terrain, gentle white clouds of mist, like slowly gliding ships, coming up from the east from the great Moush plain.  They floated on both sides of the mountains, above them the peaks and crests of the mountains surrounding the Wansee with the 4,000-metre-high Mount Sipan [Süphan] sharply outlined in the bright sky.  The sun rose over the mountains, and the snow glittered in the rays of a thousand and one diamonds.  A wonderful picture was presented to our eyes.  A dazzling fire, as if all the gold on earth had been poured into a huge cauldron, flooded its edges.  From Chabakehur [Bingöl] we went north-east, flying up the Gunek-Fluss [Göynük Stream] which comes down from the Gunek plain, cuts through Chabakehur, and joins the Euphrates at the southern end of the plain.  The slowly rising fog was now illuminated by the conquering sun, silvery and pale at the same time, they hovered in majestic form around the stone towers.  No tree, no bush adorns the ground.  The snow-covered peaks stood over the gear like radiant roofs.  Slowly the nebulae dissolved into nothingness and the sky flamed spotless in a deep blue. Gradually we came closer to the front, a gently nudge woke me from my contemplation and reminded me of the presence of my hitherto mute observer. The thermos-bottle came out and the warm tea cared for the inner man. Closer and closer we came to the front. Ophunc [Ognot], the first place on the Russian side, lay beneath us. We also knew it from the little clouds that appeared at a great distance either side of us, marking the passing of bullets.  But they were too far away. We didn't care and went on our way to Gunek-Kala [Hinis].  There we were fortunate. The design of the two tents indicated that they could only be airplane tents.  We had discovered the aerodrome from which the French plane in Russian service had taken off and bombed Pola, without any success.  A look at the fuel gauge!  The pointer warned us to return and so we arrived safely back at our starting point after a 5½ hour flight.  


Personnel - 10ncu TyBl (10th Aeroplane Detachment)

Rank Role Name Arrive  Depart  Notes
Lt Obs Muzaffer, Ahmet
11.1916  
Lt Pilot Nuri, Ahmet
11.1916 19.03.1917 Killed in aircraft crash
Lt Pilot Alayinayik      
Lt Obs Hikmet, Arif 06.1917   OC 10ncu TyBl, 04.1918 -10.1918
Lt Obs Bahattin (Haddin) 11.1916 08.1917 Posted to 7 nci TyBl, shot down 08.10.1917
Lt
Obs Bolar 06.1917
 
Lt Obs Celal 06.1917    
Lt Pilot  Frankl 11.1916    
Lt Pilot Garbiykot      
Sgt Pilot Harnig 06.1917    
Lt Obs Haupland 01.1918    
Lt Obs Mazlum, Huseyin 11.1916    
Lt Pilot Ilmer 06.1917    
Sgt Pilot Jakop 11.1916    
Sgt Pilot Kleinehayk 06.1917    
Sgt Pilot Kleinich 01.1918    
Lt Obs Lederer, Paul 06.1917 12.1917 OC 10ncu TyBl, 06.1917 – 12.1917
Lt Obs Nuri, Mehmet 11.1916    
Sgt Pilot Muns 01.1918  
Lt Obs Riege 06.1917

Sgt Obs Riga

01.1918



Lt Obs Runkel 01.1918
OC 10ncu TyBl, 01.1918 - 03.1918
Lt Pilot Sadettin 08.1916 11.1916 OC 10ncu TyBl, 08.1916 – 11.1916. Returned to Istanbul after crashing on take-off at Diyarbakir
Lt Pilot Westfa(l) 11.1916 05.1917 OC 10ncu TyBl, 11.1916 – 05.1917
Lt Pilot Yakop




Aircraft (Albatros C.III)  – 10ncu TyBl (10th Aeroplane Detachment)


Ser No
Construction No Delivered Written Off  Notes
AK.8 1566/15 11.1916 08.11.1916 Crashed at Diyarbakir
AK.16
11.1916 11.1916 Unserviceable
AK.17   11.1916 05.05.1917 Forced Landing
AK.18
11.1916 19.03.1917 Crashed near Sekerat
AK.19
11.1916 01.1917 Unserviceable
AK.44 230/17 05.1917 11.1917 Unserviceable
AK.58 218/17 05.1917 10.1917 Unserviceable
AK.62 203/17 05.1917 12.1917 Unserviceable
AK.65 219/17 05.1917 02.1918 Unserviceable


The Reconnaissance Photographs


An aerial view of the 10th Aeroplane Detachment’s aerodrome at Mezre (present-day Elazig). Four canvas hangars can be seen, adjacent to the landing ground, at the top of the image. The nearby village of Sursuru (present-day Olgunlar) is virtually without roofs and appears entirely abandoned. Before 1915, the village had a population of 1,100 Armenians in 170 households. The auxiliary lenses on the top and bottom far right of the image indicate respectively the pitch and bank of the machine for photogrammetry purposes.


The town of Marash, 200 miles southwest of Elazig. Due to the delays and damage caused by the overland delivery of aircraft in 1916, it was decided to fly their four replacement machines direct to Elazig. Marash was the site of a temporary landing ground used on the delivery flight. This image can be dated to May 1917.


The port of Van, on the eastern shore of Lake Van. This image was probably taken in late 1917


Another unknown location showing the centre of a largely destroyed village in the Eastern Provinces.


The Russian military camp and landing ground at Hinis. The aircraft hangars are at the bottom right of the image. Large numbers of abandoned buildings can be seen on both sides of the Kocasu Stream


An unidentified town (with substantial civic buildings). The image shows a railway line running from the left with a sidings/depot in the centre. It is possible that this is one of the stations on the Istanbul-Bagdad Railway, but the exact location remains elusive


The Russian encampment and landing ground at Sarikum (on the western shore of Lake Van). The village had been home to 1,383 Armenians and 159 households prior to 1915. The destruction was so severe that twenty years later (in 1935), there were just 69 residents. Sarikum, as with most locations in the Armenian Highlands, went by several names including ‘Zigzag’(British), ‘Zigak’ (Ottoman) and Dzghag/Dzigha (Armenian)


The Russian aerodrome at Erzincan with three Voisin reconnaissance aircraft and a Nieuport fighter in front of the hangars. The latter is probably the machine flown by Kapitan Mikhail Machavariani when he shot down an Albatros C.III over Erzincan in October 1917. There are witness marks for five or six canvas aircraft hangars dating from when the landing ground was used by the Ottoman Air Service


Another unidentified village in the Armenian Highlands, possibly located in the Moush plain


A Russian military encampment at Karabalcik in the Göynük valley. The village has been destroyed and abandoned. This photograph was possibly taken on 31 August 1917 when an aircraft from the 10th Aeroplane Detachment spotted a Russian regiment camped by the Göynük watercourse


An unidentified Russian brigade-sized camp in a steep river valley protected by artillery emplacements. Once again, it is next to a deserted and ruined village. The precise location is unknown, but is described as in a remote area, south of Lake Van


The town of Mezre (present-day Elazig). Taken from an Albatros C.III, flyimg at a height of several thousand feet, it shows the centre of the town with the house of the Fabricatorian Brothers in the middle of the shot, on the far left. The landing ground at Sursuru was two miles away, to the southwest


A military encampment guarding a river crossing. This may show the bridge at Kahta Koprusu


Nemrut Dag (7,000 ft), one of the highest peaks in the Eastern Taurus, photographed from an Albatros C.III of the 10th Aeroplane Detachment

Acknowledgements

I am especially grateful to George Aghjayan and Vahe Tachjian for their support and assistance in the preparation of this article.


Article posted: 08/05/2022

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