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Thank you Mehmet Efe


When we think of the characters who distinguished themselves in Turkey after the First World War, the name of Demerci Mehmet Efe often comes up. It is difficult to miss his name especially when one is interested in Ottoman or Turkish military history. Even more when we talk about our famous Turkish or Ottoman Mausers and their use in the many conflicts that opposed the Greeks to the Turks. Here is the astonishing journey of a bandit who repented and reconverted in the fight against the invader in a period of political instability, social misery and armed conflict.

From highway banditry to the national cause.


Born in 1883 in Aydın, a small town in southwestern Turkey, not far from the Aegean Sea. Son of a blacksmith, whose nickname he will keep in Turkish of “dermerci”, Mehmet Efe carried out his military service during the First World War within the 5th arsenal regiment of Izmir as a blacksmith.

After being dishonored by an Armenian captain, Mehmet Efe deserts his military service and takes refuge in his native village.

Some time later, he was appointed imam in a nearby village by Çakırcalı Mehmet Efe, another notable figure in Turkish history.


When Çakırcalı died, Demerci Mehmet Efe joined several gangs, including that of Yörük Ali Efe, a famous warlord and later military man. Quickly after joining the Yörük Ali Efe gang, Demerci quickly made himself known to the security forces, to whom he gave a hard time for his group's acts of banditry in the region.

Yörük Ali Efe and his karabineer 98AZ recognizable by its specific handlebar. A gewehr 98 cylinder head seems to have replaced the original bent one of the karabineer.



May 15 , 1919 , 20  000 Greek soldiers land in Izmir and take control of it, under the protection of British, French and American ships. Following this event, Demerci Mehmet Efe joined the Turkish regional defense forces with his gang on July 11 to fight against the Greek invader. Which earned him to receive a telegram from Mustapha Kemal Pasha:



"Aydın and the Commander of the Turkish General Forces of the National Forces, Demirci Mehmet Efe to my brother: I see you as heroes. True and dedicated children of Aydın who heroically and selflessly suppressed the traitors who tried to capture our country in the vicinity of Bolu and Düzce. They have rendered great service to our homeland. May Allah bless you in both worlds. I present to them with all my heart the sincere thanks of the Grand National Assembly as well as of their General Commander, and I embrace you Ankara, 11 June 1920 Signature: Mustafa Kemal, President of the Grand National Assembly,


Mehmet Efe, was then the commander of the Regional Forces on the Aydın front. During the Battle of Aydın, he played a major role in the raids against the Greeks and distinguished himself with his bravery and courage. He also distinguished himself in Denizli against his own men, where he avenged the death of his friend Sökeli Ali Efe, leader of a local gang, assassinated by some 60 dissidents from the Demerci Mehmet Efe group.


Sokeli Ali Efe. Murdered in Denizli on July 8, 1920 by a splinter group from the gang of mehmet Efe. In the foreground is a custom 1903 Ottoman Mauser rifle in the style of the time

The uprising


On December 9, 1920, a decision of the Turkish Grand National Assembly ordered the integration of all fighting forces into the army. The decision stated that the regional forces of Aydın were to be transformed into the cavalry corps of the regular army. The rank of commander of a cavalry regiment was even offered to Mehmet Efe as well as a pay of 40 lire per month to the 800 men under his command. But he refused this forced integration into the army. Çerkez Ethem played a role in this. This greatly displeased the Turkish military.


Çerkez Ethem (circa 1886, Bandırma - September 21, 1948, Amman), Ottoman soldier of Circassian origin. He is the founder and leader of the Kuvâ-yi Seyyâre, which was commander of the national forces during the war of independence.


After gaining the consent of Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Colonel Refet Bey was dispatched to neutralize Efe's group. On December 11, 1920 at sunset, Colonel Refet Bey's horsemen crisscrossed southern Afyonkarahisar in search of Efe's gang. After capturing several isolated groups, Colonel Mehmet Şefik Bey went to meet Mehmet Efe on December 14 to persuade him to join the regular forces in the village of İğdecik.

Following his refusal, the village of İğdecik was stormed by Colonel Refet Bey's cavalry. However, Efe was able to flee with a few of his men to the Isparta area.

The rest of the operation continued by looting the villages where these gangs were and seizing the fugitives. Forced to retreat further, Mehmet Efe headed for Uluborlu with 80 men.

İbrahim Refet Bele (1881, Thessaloniki - October 3, 1963, Istanbul), Turkish soldier and politician. He was one of the first five generals to participate in the War of Independence (the others are Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Ali Fuat Pasha, Kazim Karabekir Pasha and Rauf Orbay).


On December 18, 1920, 700 men from Demirci Efe were captured in all. Those whose age was appropriate were sent to transfer to their troops. The others were released.

On December 20, Efe was located in Tavas. However, Colonel Refet Bey was ordered to return to join the main forces at Afyonkarahisar. This one will be replaced by the captain of the gendarmerie Nuri Bey who was not long in advancing towards Tavas with a detachment of cavalry.

Surprised, Mehmet Efe's men went to hide in the surrounding mountains followed by Nuri Bey's horsemen.

On December 30, Captain Nuri Bey went directly to meet Demerci Mehmet Efe to negotiate. Following this meeting, Efe agreed to surrender and enlist in the regular forces with his men.

He will finally settle in the village of Nazilli-Dualar where he continued the fight with 50 men selected by the captain of the gendarmerie Nuri Bey in whom he has since then trusted.

Demirci Efe, who died on February 5, 1961, was buried in Nazilli Eğriboyun Cemetery in a military ceremony.


Photographed in the Istanbul Military Museum, the traditional outfit of Demerci Mehmed Efe as well as the weapons used during the war of occupation.

Top is a Model 1905 Ottoman Mauser (cavalry version of the 1903) with silver customization. Just like Yörük Ali Efe and his 98AZ karabiner, the 1903 straight breech replaces the original angled one of the 1905. Perhaps to facilitate the handling of the weapon in a guerrilla context.


Above, the famous Ottoman Mauser model 1903 in caliber 7.65x53mm made famous by the various photos of Demerci Mehmet Efe in traditional Turkish dress.

A copper wire reinforcement has been added to the handle to solidify the whole. Very common customization on these Ottoman Mausers.

Many of these rifles were scattered around the empire after the First World War. Needless to say, all these weapons lost in nature will have been widely used by the various gangs operating throughout the empire.

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