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Dubats was the designation given to armed irregular bands employed by the Italian Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali or colonial army in Italian Somaliland from 1924 to 1941. The word dubats was derived from a Somali phrase meaning "white turbans".

Origins and role

First raised in July 1924 by Colonel Bechi, these units were intended primarily for frontier patrol and policing duties. Recruited from the border clans of Italian Somaliland, the Dubats were concentrated along the Kenyanmarker, British Somaliland and Ethiopianmarker frontiers. Their officers were all Italian, usually seconded from the six regular Arab-Somali battalions recruited in the territories of present-day Somaliamarker and Yemenmarker. Their dress was the traditional Somali fute garment in white cloth (khaki from 1935 on). The Somali non-commissioned officers were distinguished by green, red or black lanyards according to rank. Dubats were armed with Mannlicher M95 rifles and curved Somali daggers (billao). They were mainly used as light infantry, but camel mounted detachments (recul) were also employed for patrol work.

Record of service

Three thousand Dubats saw service in the Campaign of the Sultanates involving the occupation of the autonomous regions of Obbiamarker, where the Sultan Yusuf Ali Kenadid ruled over his Sultanate of Hobyo, and Migiurtinia (1923-27), where Boqor Osman Mahamud held sway in his Majeerteen Sultanate.

The four original bands were increased to ten during the early stages of the Italian invasion of Ethiopiamarker in 1935. On 5 December 1934, a clash occurred between a detachment of Dubats occupying the Walwalmarker oasis in the Ogadenmarker, and Ethiopian troops escorting a border commission. This incident provided the pretext for the subsequent Second Italian-Abyssinian War.

With the occupation of Ethiopia, the Dubats were redeployed in the Ogaden Desertmarker and along the frontiers of Frenchmarker and British Somaliland. They saw ongoing action against Ethiopian guerrillas in Hararghe.

The 1st Dubat Group subsequently served as part of General De Simone's Column during the successful Italian invasion of British Somaliland in August 1940. Following the occupation by British Empire forces of Italian East Africa in 1941, the Dubats were disbanded.

See also


  • "The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia 1935-36";David Nicolle 1997; ISBN 1-85532-692-2
  • "Le Uniformi dell AOI (Somalia 1889-1941)" Piero Crociani, la Roccia 1980

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