A painting guide for the Rif Wars. The Spanish uniform evolved over the period of the conflict from, so I’ve included sections on three periods (1909-13; 1914-19; 1920-26). There are also sections on the Spanish Foreign Legion, Moroccan Regulars and the Rif tribesmen themselves.
Although known at the time as the Rif War it was
actually the Third Rif War. The war started in 1920 with the failed Spanish attempt to conquer the Djebala. The
next year saw the spectacular Spanish defeat known in Spain as the Disaster of Annual where the
forces of Abd-el-Krim destroyed the 14,000 strong army of Gen. Silvestre (Scurr, 1985).
Indecisive fighting continued until the French joined the fray in 1925. The French attacked from
the south while a Spanish expedition landed at Alhucemas Bay and attacked from the north.
Abd-el-Krim surrendered to French authorities on 27 May 1926 but it took until 10 Jul 1927 before
Spanish Morocco was declared pacified.
This war is known by several names: Rif War, First Rif War, Melilla War and the Margallo War. It was fought in 1893-94 between Spain and 39 of the Rif tribes (kabyles) of northern Morocco, and later the Sultan of Morocco (Wikipedia: First Rif War). Juan García y Magallo, the Spanish governor of Melilla, provoked the local tribes when he began redoubt near a Riffi saint’s tomb (Furneaux, 1967). In quite a spectacular show of discontent 6,000 Rif Warriors began the siege of Melilla on 3 Oct. They were soon reinforced when a Spanish shell accidentally destroyed a local Mosque, changing the character of the war to a religious Jihad. Spain also sent troops. Governor Magallo died in a sortie on 28 Oct. After the Sultan failed to intervene effectively Spain formally declared war on Morocco on 9 Nov. The war was quickly wound up in Spain’s favour after the army was increased to perhaps 25,000 Spanish regulars and militia under General Martnez de Campos. The Rif themselves peaked at 40,000. Hostilities formally ceased with the Treaty of Fez (25 Apr 1894).