Italo-Turkish War

The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War (Turkish: Trablusgarp Savaşı, "Tripolitanian War", Italian: Guerra di Libia, "War of Libya") was fought between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ottoman Empire from September 29, 1911, to October 18, 1912. As a result of this conflict, Italy captured the Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet, of which the main sub-provinces were Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripoli itself. These territories became the colonies of Italian Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, which would later merge into Italian Libya.

Italo-Turkish War
Part of the Scramble for Africa

Clockwise from top left: Battery of Italian 149/23 cannons; Mustafa Kemal with an Ottoman officer and Libyan mujahideen; Italian troops landing in Tripoli; an Italian Blériot aircraft; Ottoman gunboat Bafra sinking at Al Qunfudhah; Ottoman prisoners in Rhodes.
Date29 September 1911 – 18 October 1912
(1 year, 2 weeks and 5 days)
Location
Result

Italian victory

Territorial
changes
Italy gains Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, Fezzan, and the Dodecanese islands
Belligerents
Italy
Asir[1]

 Ottoman Empire

Commanders and leaders
Carlo Caneva
Augusto Aubry

İsmail Enver Bey
Mustafa Kemal Bey  (WIA)[2]
Osman Fuad

Ahmed Sharif as-Senussi
Omar Mukhtar
Strength

Mobilisation 1911:[3]
(September-December)
89,000 troops
14,600 quadrupeds
2,550 wagons
132 field guns
66 mountain guns
28 siege guns

Exigencies 1912:[3]
4 battalions Alpini, 7 battalions Ascari and 1 squadron Meharisti
Initial:[4]
~8,000 regular Turkish troops
~20,000 local irregular troops
Final:[4]
~40,000 Turks and Libyans
Casualties and losses
1,432 Killed in action[5]
1,948 died of disease[5][6]
4,250 wounded[6]
8,189 Killed in action[7]
10,000 killed in reprisals & executions[8]

During the conflict, Italian forces also occupied the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea. Italy agreed to return the Dodecanese to the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Ouchy[9] in 1912. However, the vagueness of the text, combined with subsequent adverse events unfavourable to the Ottoman Empire (the outbreak of the Balkan Wars and World War I), allowed a provisional Italian administration of the islands, and Turkey eventually renounced all claims on these islands in Article 15 of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.[10]

Although minor, the war was a precursor of the First World War as it sparked nationalism in the Balkan states. Seeing how easily the Italians had defeated the weakened Ottomans, the members of the Balkan League attacked the Ottoman Empire starting the First Balkan War before the war with Italy had ended.[11]

The Italo-Turkish War saw numerous technological changes, most notably the use of airplanes in combat. On October 23, 1911, an Italian pilot, Capitano Carlo Piazza, flew over Turkish lines on the world's first aerial reconnaissance mission,[12] and on November 1, the first ever aerial bomb was dropped by Sottotenente Giulio Gavotti, on Turkish troops in Libya, from an early model of Etrich Taube aircraft.[13] The Turks, lacking anti-aircraft weapons, were the first to shoot down an airplane by rifle fire.[14] Another use of new technology was a network of wireless telegraphy stations established soon after the initial landings.[15] Guglielmo Marconi himself came to Libya to conduct experiments with the Italian Corps of Engineers.