The Italian Turkish War



Italian Alpini and Libyan corpses


Perhaps it was the patina of the being a descendant of the once ascendant ancient Roman Army. The Italian leaders in the early 20th century had an inflated view of the reach of their own armies. The Italians, firmly in the European industrial movement, watched warily as other nearby nations made land grabs throughout the Balkans and the Mediterranean. France had a heavy presence in Morroco. Britain had Cypress, the Suez Canal and Egypt. Turkey had purview over Lybia. So the Italian leader Giovanni Giolitti offered the Sultan Mehmet V on September 19th, 1911 that the Italian Army invade Tripoli and occupy it to protect Italian citizens under attack by Berbers.


The Sultan firmly turned down any cooperation and it exploded into war, bloody and furious and modern. In fact, this was the war that had the first use of aircraft as Italian bombers hit the Berbers from airfields in Sicily. Italian General Caneva took 20,000 Italians into Tripoli and although he and other Italian people of nfluence predicted that this would be a rout. The Italians had their hands full against 20,000 Lybians and 8,000 Turks.


The war was 13 months long, from September 29, 1911, to October 18, 1912. It was the great powers that forced Turkey and Italy to sign the Treaty of Lausanne on October 18, 1912. The Italians brought 34,000 troopers under arms and the Lybians and Turks brought 28,000. The Italians suffered 8,000 casualties and the Arabs suffered 10,000. The Turks lost governance of Lybia but kept territory and rights inside it.

The peace did not hold.



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