The battle of Annual

August 9th 1921 - 97 years ago today.

One of Spain’s greatest military disasters comes at the hands of Berber forces in the Rio region and directly leads to the dictatorship of General de Rivera.


After splitting Morroco between itself and France, Spain could only truly control the coastal regions leaving the mountainous Riff region to it’s own devices. As Spain exerted more and more pressure in the Riff region the local Berber tribes began to band together and resist. Their leader And el-Kim used the berbers natural ability to survive and move freely about region to great effect. The harsh environment meant that each berber soldier was essentially a crack shot and a highly trained survivalist, perfect for guerrilla-style style warfare.


In an attempt to overwhelm the tribal rabble, Spain sent General Silvestre into the Riff with 5k Spanish conscripts, never the best troops but a huge liability when under trained as these men were. The deeper Silvestre went the longer his lines of communication became and the more isolated he made himself. Once he began garrisoning the far flung outposts el-Krim struck, hitting the Spanish supply and communication lines. Now Silvestri was true alone, in the wild, and at the mercy of a merciless opponent.


One by one el-Krim and his Berber warriors would stalk a garrison creating fear and panic, then they would strike taking the utmost nd slaughtering the garrison to the man. Silvestre had his main base at Annual where he had fortified his camp and sat with his 5k man army waiting for the hunter to appear. In July el-Krim did just that and used his burgeoning army to besiege the Spanish army at Annual. Without his supply lines intact Sivestre was soon out of food and water forcing the Spanish general to try a fighting withdrawal. These rarely end well and Annual was no different as the withdrawal became a massacre, most of the Spanish conscripts being killed right alongside their ill-fated general.


The fall of Annual led to a widespread panic as the rest of the regions outposts began to scramble for the safety of the coast, all the while el-Krim and his hunters harassed and picked off Spanish stragglers. A relief army was sent from Melilla and at the fort of Monte Arruit a stand was made by the Spanish. El-Krim and his men could taste the victory at this point and were Abe to surround the relief army and force it’s surrnder, and in the following month the Riff was officially and independent republic. The cost to the berbers can’t be figured but the 17 day struggle with completely untrained irregulars had cost the Spanish 13k in killed, wounded, or captured and caused a complete collapse in the faith in the military.


Cullen Burke