The Italian-Turkish War (1911-1912)


With Italian influence gradually expanding as a result of the colonization of Eritrea and the founding of various commercial ventures in the Turkish possession of Tripolitania, sooner or later the newcomers were bound to come into conflict with the Porte. When the Young Turks assumed power in Constantinople, the situation worsened: Italian enterprise was hampered, especially in Tripolitania, until by December 1910, it was clear that some kind of assurances were needed.

In July 1911 Rome informed Constantinople that if matters did not improve, military preparations would begin on September 20. In reply, the Turks sent arms to Tripoli. Italy declared war on September 29.

The Italian Bersaglieri were soon involved. On October 23, two companies were attacked in an oasis near Tripoli when Turks and Arabs advanced in force. They were beaten off, but the Bersaglieri were cut to pieces by natives who had infiltrated their lines. These troops were the light infantry of the Italian Army, and in full dress wore a very picturesque hat, well tilted to the right and decorated with an impressive plume of falling cock-tail feathers.

Native units of colonial troops were also beginning to appear, clothed in uniforms based upon a keen regard for Oriental dress.

On the Turkish side, an astrakhan fez was the distinctive headdress for the cavalry and artillery. It was worn with a dark blue tunic and gray breeches with a scarlet band, while the facing color appeared in the pointed cuffs and the collar-patch. The Ertogrul Leib-Regiment wore the same, except that the collar was uniformly red, the cuffs were straight with a red cuff-slash and the breeches were dark blue. In addition, there was a red plastron buttoned over the front of the tunic.

Peace was finally signed between the two countries at Ouchy, near Lausanne, on October 14, 1912, Turkey recognizing the Italian annexations in Africa, and Italy restoring the Aegean Islands to Turkey.

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