Thursday, April 19, 2007


The fastest machines of war the Libyans had in their war against the Italian invaders were cavalry men mounting on Arabian horses armed with ancient riffles, and the heaviest transportation trucks they had were actually camels. Their heaviest artillery guns were obsolete Turkish guns that probably were to be cooled down after every few shots in battles. Their first acquisition of new and modern personal armament was what they captured from fleeing Italian soldiers at the battles in which they were victorious.

Even so, and faced with tough and rigorous Libyan resistance, Italy introduced planes and dirigibles in this war. The use of aircraft in warfare for the FIRST TIME IN HISTORY is linked to the Italian invasion of Libya. The Italian invading forces used aircraft for both reconnaissance and bombing purposes.

THE FIRST BOMBING RAID RECORDED IN HISTORY took place on November 1, 1911. It was carried out by lieutenant Giulio Gavotti who took off carrying four spherical bombs made of chunks of steel which were for the fist time in history dropped from the air on the Mujahiddin camps at 'Ain Zarra' and 'Tajura'.
The dirigibles were used for reconnaissance as well as for directing artillery fire.

(There was a story about a group of Mujahiddin who came to Anver-Anwar Pasha with a sum of collected money and asked him to buy them an aero plane and train one of their boys to fly it so it would help them in stopping Italian air attacks.)
ITALIAN AIR FORCE IN TRIPOLI consisted of 11 pilots under the command of an officer with the rank of a captain. The planes were:
2 BLERIOT-9 single seaters.
3 NIEUPORT two seaters.
2 FARMAN two seaters.
3 ENRICCHI two seaters.
ITALIAN AIR FORCE IN BENGHAZI consisted of five officer pilots including their squadron leader, their planes were;
FIRST AIR RECONNAISSANCE OPERATION was done by captain Piazza, who flew over the Mujahiddin camps at Azzizia, and the flight was witnessed by military attaches present in Tripoli at the time. The flight took 25 minutes.

THE FIRST AIRBORNE PHOTOGRAPHIC MISSION FLIGHT took place on 24 January, 1912 over Mujaheddin camp at Swani Bin Yadam.
THE FIRST NIGHT FLIGHT was taken by two planes a BLERIOT and a FARMAN at 400 meters and 200 meters of altitude respectively, after 2100 hours.

THE FIRST USE OF CHIMECAL WEAPONS was probably performed during the Italian air attacks on Tazerbou and Kufra in January and February, 1931.
Below is an item of news published in Time Magazine on Monday, February 9, 1931:
Three columns, containing several regiments of native troops and a squadron of armored cars, escorted by a squadron of airplanes, moved against Kufra by forced march. Last week they struck. Every man and boy who could hold a rifle fought in the Senussi ranks but they were no match for planes and armored cars. After three hours the Senussi broke, fled east toward the Egyptian frontier, pursued by Italian cavalry and planes. Marshal Pietro Badoglio arrived on the scene just as the Italian flag was being raised over Kufra, as Fascist correspondents were burning the cables with rousing stories of the victory. Official casualties: two Italian officers, two native soldiers killed, 16 wounded. Hundreds of Senussi died, scores were captured.
Hero of the battle in the Italian press was 32-year-old Amadeo Umberto Isabella Luigi Filippo Maria Giuseppe Giovanni, Duke of Apulia, cousin of the King, son of the Duke of Aosta, who commanded a squadron of pursuit planes. While the defeated Senussi, with their wives, children, oxen and asses fled like Joseph and Mary into Egypt, Duke Amadeo harried them mightily from the sky, raked them with blazing machine guns, whistling bombs. "Along the route," cabled a correspondent, "water wells at Matea, Bisciara, and elsewhere are filled with bodies."


Anglo-Libyan said...

amazing article, just shows the amount of suffering experienced by the Libyans during the italian occupation.

Libya Jeel said...

very intersting blog, thank you for the information.

Omar Gheriani said...

Thanks AngloL and you're welcome LibyaJ.

Highlander said...

I'm amazed everytime you dig up one of those stories. Thanks Abughilan!

mani said...

walahe I am amazed too... impeccable research.. .please mr Abulghilan can we get the refrences too?

Omar Gheriani said...

Thanks highlander and mani. About references, the Centre for Libyan Armed Jihad against the Italian Invasion in Tripoli did a great job in the seventies, the eighties and the nineties and I hope it would continue in issueing research publications about Libya's history during this period. I notice now that there is a renaissance in private research jobs and translations of what was written about Libya in this period by Ferjani Bookshop in Tripoli, some faculty members of Gar Younis University in Benghazi and others like Dr. Wahbi El Bouri أطال الله عمره.