The Alhucemas landing (also known as Al Hoceima landing) was a landing operation which took place on 8 September 1925 at Alhucemas of the Spanish Army and Navy and, in lesser numbers, an allied French contingent, that would put an end to the Rif War. It is considered the first amphibious landing in history involving the use of tanks and massive seaborne air support.
The operations consisted on disembarking a force of 13,000 Spanish soldiers transported from Ceuta and Melilla by a combined Spanish-French naval fleet. The commander of the operation was the then dictator of Spain, general Miguel Primo de Rivera, and, as the executive head of the landing forces at the beach of Alhucemas bay, general José Sanjurjo, under whose orders were the columns of the chief generals of the brigades of Ceuta and Melilla, Leopoldo Saro Marín and Emilio Fernández Pérez, respectively. Among the participating officers, there was the then colonel Francisco Franco who, for his leadership of the Spanish Legion troops, was promoted to brigadier general.
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Spanish troops landing at Alhucemas Bay
|Republic of the Rif|
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After the disaster of Annual in July 1921, the Spanish army was unable to regain lost territory. It undertook a containment policy aimed at preventing the expansion of the rebel zone, executed by limited military actions of local nature. In parallel, the Minister of War ordered the creation of an inquiry commission, led by General Juan Picasso González, which developed the report known as Expediente Picasso. Political forces, public opinion, and the army were divided between supporters of leaving the Protectorate and advocates of restarting the military operations as soon as possible.
In September 1923, the coup of general Primo de Rivera occurred, who at first supported the abandonment of the Protectorate. In 1924 and after new attacks by Abd el Krim, which caused a Spanish retreat to the areas of Tetuan, Ceuta and Melilla, he changed to strongly supporting an offensive to defeat the Riffian leader and restore Spanish authority in the Protectorate.
In April 1925 a crucial event occurred: Abd el-Krim, confident of his success against the Spanish, attacked the French zone of the Protectorate. This opened the doors for a Spanish-French agreement to make a common front against the Riffians. To this end, in June 1925 the Madrid Conference took place, which set out the necessary actions. Among the agreements reached there were the plan for a Spanish landing on the Alhucemas bay, with the cooperation and support of a combined air and naval Spanish-French force.
Alhucemas, home of the kabyle (tribe) of Beni Ouriaghel, to which Abd el Krim belonged, was the focus of the ongoing Rif rebellion. All Spanish land operations, included the Disaster of Annual in 1921, aimed at the occupation of Alhucemas, but all of them failed, mainly due to too long resupply lines.
The operation initially proposed the landing of 18,000 men, although 13,000 would eventually be landed, to occupy a base of operations in the area of Al Hoceima and deal with an estimated force of 11,000 Riffians. This operation was the first amphibious action that involved Spain in the modern era and this, together with the failure of a similar Anglo-French operation at Gallipoli in 1915 during the First World War, posed a concern. As if it was not enough, the terrain presented difficulties in performing the landing, besides being a well-known area for the Riffians. Aware of the risk, Primo de Rivera investigated the reasons for the disaster at Gallipoli and carefully planned the landing.
The probable knowledge of the planned landing prompted Abd el Krim to fortify the area, placing artillery and mines. These circumstances forced the Spanish command to change the landing site, choosing Cebadilla Beach and Cala del Quemado, west of the Bay of Al Hoceima. The first major effort to seize the beachhead would be exercised in those beaches; once the landing would be successfully achieved, the second effort would be either in some of the adjacent creeks or a deepening and expansion of the initial beachhead, depending on the circumstances.
The AAC-1937, which means Auto Ametralladora blindado medio Chevrolet-1937, also known as Chevrolet 1937, was an armored car developed and built in Catalonia. After the dismantling of the War Industry Commission of Catalonia, the Subsecretary of Weapons and Ammunitions of Spain got Soviet engineers to build a new armoured vehicle. They took the BA-6 like a basis for the new vehicle, and they built a very similar vehicle, the AAC-1937 in the Hispano-Suiza factory in Barcelona, using a chassis of the General Motors Peninsular.With a total building of between 60 and 90 units, the AAC-1937 fought in the Spanish Civil War in the east: in the Aragon offensive and in the Catalonia offensive. With different kinds of weaponry, but with a good production, it was the best armoured vehicle produced during the fights in Catalonia.
After the fall of Catalonia (also known as La retirada), the AAC-1937 went to the armies of France or Spain. And with the start of WW2 these vehicles saw use in the Battle of France and the Germans captured some of them. Later they used them in the Eastern Front, where they were destroyed by the Soviets during the first months of the conflict.Battle of Annual
The Battle of Annual was fought on July 22, 1921, at Annual in Spanish Morocco, between the Spanish Army of Africa and Berber combatants of the Rif region during the Rif War. The Spanish suffered a major military defeat, almost always referred to by the Spanish as the Disaster of Annual, which led to major political crises and a redefinition of Spanish colonial policy toward the Rif.First Melillan campaign
The First Melillan campaign, also called the Melilla War or the Margallo War (after Juan García y Margallo, the Spanish governor of Melilla whose defeat and death infuriated the Spanish public) in Spain, was a conflict between Spain and 39 of the Rif tribes of northern Morocco, and later the Sultan of Morocco, that began in October 1893, was openly declared November 9, 1893, and was resolved by the Treaty of Fez in 1894.Green March
The Green March was a strategic mass demonstration in November 1975, coordinated by the Moroccan government, to force Spain to hand over the disputed, autonomous semi-metropolitan province of Spanish Sahara to Morocco. The demonstration of some 350,000 Moroccans advanced several kilometres into the Western Sahara territory, escorted by nearly 20,000 Moroccan troops, and meeting very little response by the Sahrawi Polisario Front. Nevertheless, the events quickly escalated into a fully waged war between Morocco and the militias of the Polisario, the Western Sahara War, which would last for 16 years. Morocco later gained control over most of the former Spanish Sahara, which it continues to hold.Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–60)
The Hispano-Moroccan War, also known as the Spanish–Moroccan War, the First Moroccan War, the Tetuán War, or, in Spain, as the African War (Spanish: Guerra de África), was fought from Spain's declaration of war on Morocco on 22 October 1859 until the Treaty of Wad-Ras on 26 April 1860. It began with a conflict over the borders of the Spanish city of Ceuta and was fought in northern Morocco. Morocco sued for peace after the Spanish victory at the Battle of Tetuán.Ifni War
The Ifni War, sometimes called the Forgotten War in Spain (la Guerra Olvidada), was a series of armed incursions into Spanish West Africa by Moroccan insurgents that began in October 1957 and culminated with the abortive siege of Sidi Ifni.
The war, which may be seen as part of the general movement of decolonization that swept Africa throughout the later half of the 20th century, was conducted primarily by elements of the Moroccan Army of Liberation which, no longer tied down in conflicts with the French, committed a significant portion of its resources and manpower to the capture of Spanish possessions.Leopoldo Saro
Leopoldo Saro y Marín, 1st Earl of Ixdain Beach (January 11, 1878 – August 19, 1936) was a Spanish military general. His success in the Alhucemas landing earned him the title of Conde de la Playa de Ixdain.List of Spanish colonial wars in Morocco
There have been several Spanish colonial wars in Morocco or Hispano-Moroccan wars:
Conquest of La Mamora (1681)
Hispano-Moroccan War (1859–1860)
First Melillan campaign (1893–1894)
Second Melillan campaign (1909–1910)
Third Melillan campaign (1911–1912)
Rif War (1921–1926)
Ifni War (1957–1958)Military history of Morocco
The military history of Morocco covers a vast time period and complex events. It interacts with multiple military events in a vast area containing North Africa and the Iberian peninsula.Perejil Island
Perejil Island (Spanish: Isla de Perejil, Berber: Tura or Toṛa, Arabic: تورة, romanized: Toora) is a small, uninhabited rocky islet located off the coast of Morocco, just 200 metres from the mainland coast. Its sovereignty is disputed between Spain and Morocco. It was the subject of an armed incident between the two countries in 2002.Perejil Island crisis
The Perejil Island crisis was a bloodless armed conflict between Spain and Morocco that took place on 11–20 July 2002. The incident took place over the small, uninhabited Perejil Island, when a squad of the Royal Moroccan Navy occupied it. After an exchange of declarations between both countries, the Spanish troops finally evicted the Moroccan infantry who had relieved their Navy comrades.Pilar Mañas Brugat
María del Pilar Mañas Brugat (born 24 July 1975) is a Spanish military officer. In 2017 she became the first woman to take command of a Spanish Air Force unit. She was named an Exemplary Woman (Spanish: Mujer Referente) by the Women's Institute in 2018.Rif War
The Rif War was an armed conflict fought from 1920 to 1927 between the colonial power Spain (later joined by France) and the Berber tribes of the Rif mountainous region. Led by Abd el-Krim, the Riffians at first inflicted several defeats on the Spanish forces by using guerrilla tactics and captured European weapons. After France's military intervention against Abd el-Krim's forces and the major landing of Spanish troops at Al Hoceima, considered the first amphibious landing in history to involve the use of tanks and aircraft, Abd el-Krim surrendered to the French and was taken into exile.In 1909, Rifian tribes aggressively confronted Spanish workers of the iron mines of the Rif, near Melilla, which led to the intervention of the Spanish Army. The military operations in Jebala, in the Moroccan West, began in 1911 with the Larache Landing. Spain worked to pacify a large part of the most violent areas until 1914, a slow process of consolidation of frontiers that lasted until 1919 due to World War I.
The following year, after the signing of the Treaty of Fez, the northern Moroccan area was adjudicated to Spain as a protectorate. The Riffian populations strongly resisted the Spanish, unleashing a conflict that would last for several years. In 1921, the Spanish troops suffered the catastrophic Disaster of Annual, the biggest defeat in the history of Spain, in addition to a rebellion led by Rifian leader Abd el-Krim. As a result, the Spanish retreated to a few fortified positions while Abd el-Krim ultimately created an entire independent state: the Republic of the Rif. The development of the conflict and its end coincided with the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, who took on command of the campaign from 1924 to 1927. In addition, and after the Battle of Uarga in 1925, the French intervened in the conflict and established a joint collaboration with Spain that culminated in the Alhucemas landing which proved a turning point. By 1926 the area had been pacified; Abd-el-Krim surrendered in July 1927; and the Spanish regained the previously lost territory.
The Rif War is still considered controversial among historians. Some see in it a harbinger of the decolonization process in North Africa. Others consider it one of the last colonial wars, as it was the decision of the Spanish to conquer the Rif — nominally part of their Moroccan protectorate but de facto independent — that catalyzed the entry of France in 1924.The Rif War left a deep memory both in Spain and in Morocco. The Riffian insurgency of the 1920s can be interpreted as a precursor to the Algerian war of independence, which took place three decades later.Second Melillan campaign
The Second Melillan campaign (Spanish: Guerra de Melilla ) was a conflict in 1909 in Morocco around Melilla. The fighting involved local Riffians and the Spanish Army.Siege of Larache (1689)
The Siege of Larache, in 1689, was undertaken by the huge army of Morocco under Moulay Ismail against the Spaniards, who had ruled the city for nearly 80 years. After three months of siege, the defenders were forced to capitulate. Several centuries later, in 1911 the city was again controlled by the Spanish during the Protectorate.Siege of Melilla (1774)
The Siege of Melilla was an attempt by the British-backed Sultanate of Morocco to capture the Spanish fortress of Melilla on the Moroccan Mediterranean coast. Mohammed ben Abdallah, then Sultan of Morocco, invested Melilla in December 1774 with a large army of Royal Moroccan soldiers and Algerian mercenaries. The city was defended by a small garrison under Irish-born Governor Don Juan Sherlocke until the siege was lifted by a relief fleet in March 1775.Sieges of Ceuta (1694–1727)
The Sieges of Ceuta (also known as the Thirty-year Siege) were a series of blockades by Moroccan forces of the Spanish-held city of Ceuta on the North African coast. The first siege began on 23 October 1694 and finished in 1720 when reinforcements arrived. During the 26 years of the siege, the city underwent changes leading to the loss of its Portuguese character. While most of the military operations took place around the city walls (Muralles Reales), there were also small-scale penetrations by Spanish forces at various points on the Moroccan coast, and seizure of shipping in the Strait of Gibraltar. The city was placed under a second siege in 1721 until 22 April 1727.Spanish protectorate in Morocco
The Spanish protectorate in Morocco was established on 27 November 1912 by a treaty between France and Spain that converted the Spanish sphere of influence in Morocco into a formal protectorate.
The Spanish protectorate consisted of a northern strip on the Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar, and a southern part of the protectorate around Cape Juby, bordering the Spanish Sahara. The northern zone became part of independent Morocco on 7 April 1956, shortly after France had ceded its protectorate (French Morocco). Spain finally ceded its southern zone through the Treaty of Angra de Cintra on 1 April 1958, after the short Ifni War. The city of Tangiers was excluded from the Spanish protectorate and received a special internationally controlled status.
Since France already held a protectorate over the entire country and controlled Morocco's foreign affairs (since 30 March 1912), it also held the power to delegate a zone to Spanish protection. The surface area of the zone was about 20,948 km2 (8,088 sq mi), which represents 4.69% of modern-day Morocco.Treaty of Aranjuez (1780)
The Treaty of Aranjuez was signed on December 25, 1780, between Spain and Morocco. Based on the terms of the treaty, Morocco gained territories ceded by Spain. In return, however, Morocco recognized Spanish rule over Melilla. The treaty defused tensions, lessening the chance that Morocco would agree to British requests to declare war on the Spanish, as in 1774.