Battle of Annual
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Spanish Wikipedia. (December 2012)|
|Battle of Annual|
|Part of the Rif War|
Spanish officers inspecting the remains of a garrison on Monte Arruit, July 1921.
|Republic of the Rif||Spain|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi|| Manuel Fernández Silvestre †
Felipe Navarro y Ceballos-Escalera
|3,000 men||Spanish sources:
5,000 (at Annual)
Non-Spanish sources: 20,000
|Casualties and losses|
|800 casualties||13,363 dead or wounded-20,000 killed|
The Battle of Annual was a battle fought in Spanish Morocco between the Spanish Army of Africa and the Berber combatants of the Rif region. It was a major military defeat suffered by the Spanish army on July 22, 1921 at Annual in northeastern Morocco during the Rif War. The defeat, almost always referred to by the Spanish as the Disaster of Annual, led to major political crises and a redefinition of Spanish colonial policy toward the Rif.
The Battle 
In early 1921 the Spanish army commenced an offensive into north-eastern Morocco from the coastal regions previously held. The advance took place without the extended lines of communication being adequately established or the complete subjugation of the areas occupied.
On July 22, 1921, after five days of siege, Spanish forces garrisoning the encampment of Annual under the command of general Manuel Fernández Silvestre after the contiguous position of Igueriben had fallen, were attacked and destroyed by the Riffi irregular forces under the command of Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Karim al-Khattabi (usually known as Abd el Krim), a former functionary of the Spanish administration in the Office of Indigenous Affairs in Melilla and one of the leaders of the tribe of the Aith Ouriaghel (known as 'Aith Urriaguel' in Spanish).
General Silvestre disappeared and his remains were never found. One version claims that Spanish Sergeant Francisco Basallo Berrcerra of the Kandussi garrison who survived the Dar Quebdani massacre, identified the remains of Silvestre by its scars. A Moorish courier from Kaddur Namar claimed that eight days after the Battle of Annual, he saw the corpse of the general there lying face down. The over-extended Spanish military structure in the Western Spanish Protectorate in Morocco crumbled. After the battle the Rif Berbers started their advance towards east and they overrun more than 130 Spanish military posts. Their garrisons killed without ever having any chance of mounting a co-ordinated response to the attacks. At the end of August 1921, Spain had lost all the territories it had gained since 1909.
Spanish retreats 
At Afrau on the coast Spanish warships were able to evacuate the garrison and at Zoco el Telata de Metalsa in the south Spanish troops and civilians were able to retreat to the French Zone.
The surviving Spanish troops retreated some 80 km to the encampment of Monte Arruit where a stand was attempted under the command of General Felipe Navarro y Ceballos-Escalera. This position was however surrounded and cut off from supplies. Accordingly, General Dámaso Berenguer Fusté, Spanish High Commissioner in the protectorate, authorized surrender on August 9. Nonetheless, the Rifeños did not respect the conditions of surrender and killed many of the refugees within the fort. General Navarro, along with 534 military and 53 civilians, was taken prisoner.
Melilla was only some 40 km away, but was in no position to help: the city itself was almost defenceless and lacked properly trained troops. The Spanish quickly reinforced their biggest base, in Melilla, with 14,000 men from the Spanish Legion. Abdelkrim had not enough men to lay siege on the city and his will to avoid international disapprovement against him led him to not attack Melilla. Citizens of western European nations were living in Melilla. He later stated that this was his biggest mistake.
Spain quickly assembled elite units of the Army of Africa which had been operating south of Tetuan in the Western Zone and had not accompanied Silvestre's forces in the advance to Annual. These mainly comprised the newly raised (1920) Spanish Legion and Moroccan Regulares. Transferred to Melilla by sea these reinforcements enabled the city to be held and Monte Arruit to be retaken by the end of November.
The Spanish lost more than 20,000 soldiers in Annual. German historian Werner Brockdorff states, that only 1,200 of the 20,000 Spanish escaped alive. Rif Berber casualties were 800. Materiel lost by the Spanish, in the summer of 1921 and particularly in the 'Battle of Annual', included 11,000 rifles, 3,000 carbines, 1,000 muskets, 60 machine guns, 2,000 horses, 1,500 mules, 100 cannons and a lot of ammunition. Abd el Krim remarked later: "In just one night, Spain supplied us with all the equipment which we needed to carry on a big war." Other sources give the number of booty seized, after the battle of Annual, by the Rif warriors as: 20,000 rifles (German made Mauser), 400 machine guns (Hotchkiss), 120-150 artillery pieces (Schneider).
The political crisis brought about by this disaster led Indalecio Prieto to say in the Congress of Deputies: "We are at the most acute period of Spanish decadence. The campaign in Africa is a total failure, absolute, without extenuation, of the Spanish Army."
The Minister of War ordered the creation of an investigative commission, directed by the honored general Juan Picasso González, which developed the report known as the Expediente Picasso, which, despite calling out numerous military mistakes, owing to the obstructive action of various ministers and judges did not go so far as to lay political responsibility for the defeat, which popular opinion widely placed upon King Alfonso XIII, who according to several sources had encouraged Silvestre's irresponsible penetration of positions far from Melilla without having adequate defenses in his rear. Alfonso's apparent indifference to the disaster - vacationing in southern France, he reportedly said that "Chicken meat is cheap" when informed of the disaster - led to a popular backlash against the monarchy.
In Literature 
- Donald Bloxham, A. Dirk Moses : The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies , Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 0191613614, page xxii (part 4 chapter 18)
- M S Gill: Immortal Heroes Of The World, Sarup & Sons, 2005, ISBN 8176255904, page 242.
- Werner Brockdorff: Geheimkommandos des Zweiten Weltkrieges, Verlag Welsermühl, 1967, page 168.
- Johannes Ebert, Knut Görich, Detlef Wienecke-Janz: Die große Chronik Weltgeschichte - Band 15 Der erste Weltkrieg und seine Folgen, wissenmedia Verlag, 2008, ISBN 3577090758, page 203. (German)
- Long, David E.; Bernard Reich (2002). The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. p. 393.
- Martha Eulalia Altisent: A Companion to the Twentieth-Century Spanish Novel, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2008, ISBN 1855661748, page 259.
- Juan Pando, Historia Secreta del Annual (Madrid: Ediciones Temas de Hoy, 1999), 335-36.
- Sasse, 2006, page 40.
- Juan Pando, Historia Secreta del Annual (Madrid: Ediciones Temas de Hoy, 1999), 335.
- Sasse, 2006, page 41.
- J.Roger-Mathieu, Memoires d'Abd-el-Krim (Paris, 1927)
- Dirk Sasse, Franzosen, Briten und Deutsche im Rifkrieg 1921-1926, Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2006, ISBN 3-486-57983-5, page 157. (German)
- Margaret Peil, Olatunji Y. Oyeneye: Consensus, Conflict, and Change: A Sociological Introduction to African Societies, East African Publishers, 1998, ISBN 9966467475, page 54.
- Martin Windrow: French Foreign Legion 1914-45, Osprey Publishing, 1999, ISBN 1855327619, page 14.
- Jean-Denis G. G. Lepage: The French Foreign Legion: An Illustrated History, McFarland, 2008, ISBN 9780786432394, page 125.
- Woolman, 102
Further reading 
- Rebels in the Rif - Abd El Krim and the Rif Rebellion. David S. Woolman, Stanford University Press 1968.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Battle of Annual|
- The Disaster of Annual (in Spanish).
- "La Guardia Civil en el Desastre de Annual", an article on this topic from the official site of the Spanish Guardia Civil (in Spanish).
- Rif War of 1919-1926 on OnWar.com
- Next publication of Abd el-Krim`s biography on the basis of official Spanish documents