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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1, ”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 2, fra Jan. 1917 – 1. Jan. 1919
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 08/05/1917
Arrival of telegram: 08/16/1917
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 124
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 03/23/2012

The minister in Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


No. 124
Constantinople, 5 August 1917.


Mr. Foreign Minister,

With reference to the circular issued by German colonel, Turkish general Weitmann [Weidtmann Pasha], conditions in the Turkish soldier depots, the accession to which is now made up of the personnel who had bought themselves free of military service in the first years [or year; the original Danish phrasing is ambiguous] of the war.

The depot regiments consist, it seems, usually of three – sometimes of four – battalions, each made up of four companies.
The companies consist of 300 to 800 men, and there are at present 17 depot regiments in the whole Empire whichs means that the combined reserve personnel can be estimated at 110,000 to 120,000 men.

Three of these regiments, of which one has four battalions, are posted here in Constantinople.

The personnel that are enrolled in the depot regiments are usually sent to the fronts in Syria and in Mesopotamia already after 6 weeks of training.

During their stay in the depot regiments the soldiers are poorly nutritioned. They receive 700 grammes of poor quality bread each a day, and this bread is most often their only food, leaving them rather weakened.

In the last couple of days the local depots used for the front in Mesopotamia have had to hand over personnel that had yet to go through the prescribed 6 weeks of training.

The desertions from the depots here in Constantinople are presently not as numerous as they were when I last reported on these matters and when the draftees thought that the war would only be of short duration, because the soldiers realize that it will be difficult for them to stay hidden in European Turkey until peace is made.

In the provinces, however, where the deserter can seek refuge in the mountains and make their living from plundering the villages, the desertions continue undiminished, and a Turkish officer who recently arrived here from Konia tells me that he estimates the number of deserters who are presently located in the mountains between Konia and Smyrna to 40,000 to 45,000 men who have escaped, partly during the transportation by railway to the front, partly from the places of concentration and the depots.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully

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