Battle of Tobruk (1911) or Nadura Hill Battle was a small engagement in the Italo-Turkish War. It is famous due to the involvement and leadership of future Turkish president Mustafa Kemal.
Tobruk was a port with strategic importance. Georg August Schweinfurth declared in 1883: "A nation that possesses Tobruk will dominate the eastern Mediterranean Sea." The First Fleet of the Italian naval forces, commanded by vice-admiral Augusto Aubry, approached Tobruk on October 3, 1911 and invaded the city the next day without encountering any serious opposition. The Ottoman forces were organized by Enver Bey (later Enver Pasha) after trivial clashes on November 9, 1911. The leader of the Libyan forces was Sheik Muberra, who was backed by his "Meryem" tribe.
In the first week of December 1911 nearly 2000 Italian soldiers against 200 Libyan volunteers had captured the Nadura Hill in Mureyra Valley and were busy with reinforcements and digging trenches.
Captain Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) was then in command of Tobruk region and foresaw that the consolidation of Italian forces would jeopardize his position. Thus, he ordered Sheik Muberra to attack as soon as possible to overcome the further reinforcement of the Italians on the strategic Nadura Hill. Under approval of Ethem Pasha, 12 Turkish soldiers, Lieutenant Necip Efendi and 120 Libyan volunteers were ordered to capture the hill, defended by 200 Italian soldiers. The Ottoman forces approached Nadura Hill just before dawn and besieged the hill, followed by heavy fire and an all-out attack. Italian soldiers were surprised and responded in a disorganized fashion without the surveillance of cannon fire. Italian positions were captured in two hours and the Italian Bersaglieri retreated to Tobruk while leaving three machine guns, among other munitions.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman forces, consisting of a thousand soldiers, destroyed Italian reinforcements who were supporting the Italian forces near the hill. Sheik Muberra was shot and killed along with 10 Libyan volunteers. After five hours of fighting, the Italian attack was repulsed and the Italians forced to retreat to Tobruk.
Casualties among the Italian soldiers were approximately 200, along with the equipment, rifles and ammunition abandoned by the Bersaglieri. This was an important but secondary step for hindering the Italian advance into Tobruk in December 1911. However, the Italians later re-invaded these strategic sites with superior forces in January 1912 and since then occupied the area of Tobruk until their final victory.
- Celal Erikan, Komutan Atatürk, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, ISBN 975-458-288-2, 2001, p. 88. (Turkish)
- Mehmet Akzambak, Atatürk'ün Devrimci Adalet Bakanı Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Kastaş Yayınevi, 2005, p. 18. (Turkish)
- Tarih Çevirme Kılavuzu (Turkish)
- KhadijaTeri - Libya - Tobruk
- http://www.byegm.gov.tr/YAYINLARIMIZ/kitaplar/FMD/eng/01007.htm[dead link]
- 1911-1912 Turco-Italian War and Captain Mustafa Kemal. Ministry of Culture of Turkey, edited by Turkish Armed Forces-Division of History and Strategical Studies, pages 62-65, Ankara, 1985
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