Battle of Tobruk (1911)

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Battle of Tobruk
Part of the Italo-Turkish War
Young officer Mustafa Kemal Bey dictating a letter
Date22 December 1911[1] or 9 January 1912[2] (9 Kânunsani 1327 = 22 January 1912)
Result Ottoman victory
Kingdom of Italy Italy  Ottoman Empire
Flag of Cyrenaica.svg Senussi Order
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Italy Carlo Caneva Ottoman Empire Mustafa Kemal
Ottoman Empire Enver Pasha
Flag of Cyrenaica.svg Al Mabri Yaseen †
Unknown Unknown (probably smaller)

Battle of Tobruk (1911) or Nadura Hill Battle was a small engagement in the Italo-Turkish War. It is mostly known for the involvement and leadership of future Turkish president Mustafa Kemal.[citation needed]


The First Fleet of the Italian naval forces, commanded by vice-admiral Augusto Aubry, approached Tobruk on October 3, 1911 and invaded the city the next day without encountering any serious opposition. The Ottoman forces were organized by Enver Bey (later Enver Pasha) after trivial clashes on November 9, 1911. The leader of the Libyan forces was Sheik Muberra (Al Mabri Yaseen), who was backed by his "Meryem" clan and other Senussi Volunteers.


In the first week of December 1911[citation needed] Italian soldiers had captured the Nadura Hill in Mureyra Valley and were busy with reinforcements and digging trenches.

Captain Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) was then in command of Tobruk region and foresaw that the consolidation of Italian forces would jeopardize his position. Thus, he ordered Sheik Muberra to attack as soon as possible to overcome the further reinforcement of the Italians on the strategic Nadura Hill. Under approval of Enver Pasha, Turkish soldiers and Libyan volunteers were ordered to capture the hill. The Ottoman forces approached Nadura Hill just before dawn and besieged the hill, followed by heavy fire and an all-out attack. Italian soldiers were surprised and responded in a disorganized fashion without the surveillance of cannon fire. Italian positions were captured in two hours and the Italian Bersaglieri retreated to Tobruk while leaving three machine guns, among other munitions.

Meanwhile, the Ottoman forces, consisting of a thousand soldiers, destroyed Italian reinforcements who were supporting the Italian forces near the hill. Sheik Muberra was shot and killed along with 10 Libyan volunteers. After five hours of fighting, the Italian attack was repulsed and the Italians forced to retreat to Tobruk.


This battle was an important but secondary step for hindering the Italian advance into Tobruk in December 1911. However, the Italians later re-invaded these strategic sites with superior forces in January 1912 and since then occupied the area of Tobruk until their final victory.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Celal Erikan, Komutan Atatürk, Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, ISBN 975-458-288-2, 2001, p. 88. (in Turkish)
  2. ^ Mehmet Akzambak, Atatürk'ün Devrimci Adalet Bakanı Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Kastaş Yayınevi, 2005, p. 18. (in Turkish)
  3. ^ 1911-1912 Turco-Italian War and Captain Mustafa Kemal. Ministry of Culture of Turkey, edited by Turkish Armed Forces-Division of History and Strategical Studies, pages 62-65, Ankara, 1985

Coordinates: 32°4′34″N 23°57′41″E / 32.07611°N 23.96139°E / 32.07611; 23.96139