Sources for the Rif Wars

A annotated bibliography for the Rif Wars.

Web sites

Dar Riffien: The cradle of the legion (broken link; gone with Geocities) [Spanish]

Fantastic photos.

Regulares de Mellila no. 52 [Spanish]

Mostly dedicated to the modern unit, but has some photos of earlier periods, particularly the 1950s.

The Spanish Foreign Legion [Spanish]

A favourite of mine. I don’t know how official this site is, but it is has been written by a fan of the Legion. Covers history and current state. Some nice hand drawn illustrations, including flags of the various units in the Legion down to company level.

Renault FT-17 Tanks in the Rif War and more FT-17 plus a Schneider M16 CA1 by Jesús Dapena.

Tanks – including those used by Spain during the Rif War

Amazing site for anyone who likes tanks.

Books and Journals

Alvarez, J. E. (2001). The Betrothed of Death: The Spanish Foreign Legion during the Rif Rebellion, 1920-1927. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

Covers why the legion was created, its organisation, and its military impact after the disaster at Annual. Very, very detailed. The material is based on Alvarez’s 1995 PhD Thesis.

Baber, R. (n.d.). A Wargamer’s Guide to the Rif War. Too Fat Lardies.

Richard has packed this book with details. Recommended.

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1983). La Infanteria de Linea; El Ejercito de Alfonso XIII. Madrid. [Spainsh]

Small book with lots of illustrations. Includes lots of illustrations for the Peninsular army – uniforms which largely weren’t used in Africa – but many that are relevant as well.

Fleming, S. E. (1991). Primo de Rivera and Abd-el-Krim: The Struggle in Spanish Morocco, 1923-1927. New York: Garland.

Lots of excellent detail, let down by small font size and no pictures. But I’ve read it twice and used it as the framework of my Timeline.

Furneaux, R. (1967). Abdel Krim: Emir of the Rif. London: Secker & Warburg.

This guy is a journalist who, in the 1960s, had direct access to the sons and peers of Abd-el-Krim. The direct access to Rif sources means his book has some nice titbits, but his journalistic approach means his history is rather soft. That means where Furneaux gives details that conflict with data from proper historians such as Fleming (1991) I followed the historian.

Grávalos González, L., and Calvo Pérez, J. L. (2000). Los Uniformes de 1912: Reinado de Alfonso XIII [Spanish]. Valladolid, Spain: Quiron Ediciones.

Covers the official uniforms through to the 1926 reforms. I suspect most of these uniforms did not make it to Morocco, but there are few that certainly did.

Munoz Bolaños, R., de Mesa Gutierrez, J. L., Lazaro Avila, C., & Nunez Calvo, J. N.. (2001). Las Campanas de Marruecos (1909-1927) [Spanish] . Madrid.

Shannon Fleming described this as “an interesting collection of essays dealing with the military activities of the Spanish Army, Air Force and Guardia Civil in the Protectorate”. The main appeal for me is that it has lots of photos from the War.

Jensen, R. G. (1992). Jose Millan-Astray and the nationalist ‘crusade’ in Spain. Journal of Contemporary History, 27(3), 425-447.

Provides insight into Astray’s mind. Strange mind it was too. Also provides some biographical information.

Preston, P. (1995). Franco: A biography. London: Fontana (first published 1993).

Good biographical information, but depressingly sparse regarding military details. Too often refers to a conflict, without offering specifics.

Scurr, J. (1985). The Spanish Foreign Legion (Men-at-Arms 161). London: Osprey.

Typical Osprey: a taster with some nice pictures. Understandable focus on the Legion, so zero information on other forces. Good descriptions of Legion actions during Rif War, Spanish Civil War, and War in Spanish Sahara.

Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers (SOTCW)

The Journal and on-line forum of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers (SOTCW) often have material on the Rif War. You can find the society on the SOTCW Website

Turnball, P. (1978). The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 (Men-at-Arms). London: Osprey.

Not about the Rif War at all, but does include uniform details for some of the major participants (Regulares, Legion, Regular Army). One could assume the uniforms were similar 12 years before – certainly this is true for the Legion.

Woolman, D. S. (1968). Rebels in the Rif. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Books I know about, but haven’t seen

Mike Blake kindly sent in a list of books that I hadn’t seen, plus I included a few I already knew about … …

Acosta Guerro, Jose Manuel. (1998). El Ejercito Espanol en Campana 1643-1921. Madrid. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1983). Los Cazadores de Caballeria; El Ejercito de Alfonso XIII. Madrid. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1982). Los Husares; El Ejercito de Alfonso XIII. Madrid. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1989). Los Regulares; Uniformes Y Organizacion De Las Tropas Regulares Indigenas de Marruecos. Aldaba Ediciones. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1990). Nuestra Tropas en Guinea. Aldaba Ediciones. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1982). Tropas de la Casa Real; El Ejercito de Alfonso XIII. Madrid. [Spainsh]

Bueno Carrera, Jose Maria. (1990). Uniformes de las Unidades Militares de la Cuidad de Melilla. Aldaba Militaria. [Spainsh]

Condon, Tom. (1980, Jan-Mar). Rasuli: Brigand, or Protector of the Faith? Savage & Soldier, XII(1).

Garcia, A C, de Mesa Gutierrez, J. L., & Dominguez Llosa S. L. (2000). Alhucemas 1925: Las imagenes del dembarco. Madrid: Almena Ediciones.

Lots of b&w photos.

Harris, Walter Burton. (1927). France, Spain And The Rif. London.

Landau, Rom. (1956). Moroccan Drama 1900-1955. London: R Hale.

Pennell, C. R. (1986). A Country with a Government and a Flag: The Rif War in Morocco, 1921-1926. Wisbech, England.

Fleming (1991) described this as “the most detailed and incisive history of the Rif War” because it is based on a good blend of European and Moroccan sources.

Sheean, Vincent. (1926). Adventures Among The Riffi. Allen & Unwin.

Books list sent by Shannon Fleming

Shannon Fleming kindly filled in some gaps in my book list. My thanks to him for both the list and the explanatory comments …

Mara Rosa de Madariaga, España y el Rif: Crónica de una historia casi olvidada (Melilla, 1999):

this is an excellent book that provides a great deal of background on Spanish mining interests in the Rif and also a solid discussion of Abd al-Karim and his movement.

Susana Sueiro Seoane, España en el Mediterráneo: Primo de Rivera y la “cuestión marroquí,” 1923-1930 (Madrid, 1992):

this covers the diplomatic background and policy making decisions that impacted Spanish policy in the Protectorate during the Primo de Rivera Dictatorship. It is a very sound, scholarly work.

Juan Pando, Historia secreta de Annual (Madrid, 1999):

despite the lurid title, this is an interesting and stimulating work that focuses on the particulars of the Annual disaster.

David M. Hart, The Aith Waryaghar of the Moroccan Rif: An Ethnography and History (Tucson, AZ, 1976):

this is a major anthropological work that details Abd al-Karim’s home tribe. It has a very useful chapter on the Rif War.

Germain Ayache, Les Origines de la Guerre du Rif (Paris, 1982):

this was written by a late, eminent Moroccan historian. It provides, among other things, invaluable information on Abd al-Karim’s family background and life prior to the Rif War. Ayache has a companion book to this one which deals with the Rif War.

Mohammed Tahtah, Entre Pragmatisme, Réformisme et Modernisme: Le rôle politico-religieux des Khattabi dan le Rif (Maroc) jusqu’a 1926 (Louvain, 2000):

an interesting review of both primary and secondary sources concerning Abd al-Karim and his movement. It also summarizes the various theories concerning his motivations and aims. This is both outstanding and stimulating.

Juan Tomás Palma Moreno, Annual 1921. 80 años del desastre (Madrid, 2001):

yet another work on the “disaster.”

Manuel Leguineche, Annual el desastre de España en el Rif, 1921 (Madrid, 1996):

an interesting “impressionistic” work that provides long narratives from Spanish veterans and other participants in the “Rif War.”

Sebastian Balfour, Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War (Oxford, 2002):

a fuller edition was also recently published in Spanish. This is a significant work that has caused some controversary. Balfour’s thesis stated simply is that the Moroccan wars– particularly that of 1921-27 — fostered a group of Army officers (Africanistas) whose experience and mentality during that conflict predesposed them toward a more conservative, nationalistic viewpoint in the 1930’s and beyond. He also has an interesting chapters on the Spanish use of poison gases during the Rif War and on the daily lives of Spanish soldiers during the conflict. This is a very stimulating work…

Richard Baber contributions

Richard Baber also kindly sent in a couple of missing references …

THE JOURNAL OF MILITARY HISTORY [VOL.63, NO1, JAN `99] Contains an article by Jose Alvarez (author of “Betrothed of Death”) about the Alhucemas Bay landings. Goes into greater detail than he did in the book, very useful.

AVIATION QUARTERLY [VOL5, NO2,second quarter 1979] Contains an article about Col. Paul Rockwell, who flew with the American volunteers in Morocco during 1925. The article is taken from Rockwells own manuscript and contains interesting details but the best stuff is the photos from his private collection superb!

Tropas Regulares Indigenas: Osprey like book with B/W photos and colour plates with Spanish text.

Rudibert Kunz brought these two works to my attention

Rudibert Kunz / Rolf-Dieter Müller. (1990). Giftgas gegen Abd el Krim. Deutschland, Spanien und der Gaskrieg in Spanisch-Marokko 1922-1927. Freiburg. [German]

Rudibert Kunz (2004). Con ayuda del más danino de todos los gases. Der Gaskrieg gegen die Rifkabylen in Spanisch-Marokko 1922-1927. In Völkermord und Kriegsverbrechen in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts.Frankfurt am Main. [German]

2 thoughts on “Sources for the Rif Wars”

  1. You might also cite:

    SASSE, Dirk: Franzosen, Briten und Deutsche im Rifkreig 1921-26 (Munich, 2006), a German text looking at the international involvement of French, British and German nationals in the War. (I admit to a personal interest here: the book contains numerous references to my great-uncle, an active and committed supporter of the Rif cause at the time, now buried in Tangier.


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