Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

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Urmel
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Urmel » 06 Aug 2020 10:06

jwsleser wrote:
04 Aug 2020 13:50
Good day Urmel
Urmel wrote:
04 Aug 2020 08:44
Don't know about any of these problems.
The challenges of the Italian archives are well know to all serious researchers. I have good friend in Roma (former Granatiere officer) who smiles every time I discuss coming for a visit and think about stopping by the archives.
Urmel wrote:
04 Aug 2020 08:44
I have a range of Italian friends who I work with, and never had any trouble getting anything I wanted, but it is of course possible that this is because I have rather mainstream requirements.
There are three main challenges: Access, organization, and classification.

Access is a challenge for researchers who are not associated with the archives who must make appointments months in advance for a set period of time. Then the archives are closed that day for 'whatever'. Hours are weird can change at any moment.

The archives are poorly catalogued with a lot of material either misidentified or not listed. The physical organization/layout of the files is described by many as chaotic. Many files have bene moved the the state archives, so one must know where the desired documents might be located. This is why hiring someone who specializes in doing research in these archives is often money well spent.

Many documents are still 'classified'. Why is still a mystery. For example materials relating to the events of 8 September 1943.
Urmel wrote:
04 Aug 2020 08:44
It is also notable that a lot of information has been published in book form (and quite a bit is online), e.g. the war diaries of Comando Supremo including a lot of the appendice documents, techno/operational directives of the Regia Marina, studies into the mechanisation of the Italian army. There are also very detailed campaign histories and specific studies. The navy is probably best in this regard, the army and air force less so.
The many books published by the three services are quite good. I have collected most of the R.E. volumes (I am slowly finishing my set of the Comando Supremo diaries, though these can be found online). I have been posting translations of the field reports found in La meccanizzazione dell'Esercito fino al 1943 on the Comando Supremo website. Here is my Italian section in my home office library. About two-thirds of the books are Italian language, most published by the USSME. I have a few more in the main library.
Italian2GMBooks2.JPG
Urmel wrote:
04 Aug 2020 08:44
The idea that these things are purposefully hidden is just another one of those grand conspiracy theories in my view.
There is little doubt that there are materials which are being held back from public access.

Pista! Jeff
Thanks for the exhaustive reply, which is very informative. Is there any evidence that the materials held back have any bearing on the discussion at hand?

I do however have to take issue with the 'serious researchers know' statement, which seems to imply that only casual researchers are ignorant of the challenges. My friends are serious researchers, not a few of them with multiple publications on Italy and WW2 to their name. They clearly have found a way to navigate this system.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Ружичасти Слон
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Ружичасти Слон » 06 Aug 2020 11:26

Ironmachine wrote:
06 Aug 2020 06:59
Ружичасти Слон wrote:
Ironmachine wrote:
Ружичасти Слон wrote:Mr gutteridge

We all know you have opinion on Italy army and was make conclusion it was no good.
Hi Ружичасти Слон.
Just out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on the Italian Army on WWII? And if you do, what is your conclusion?


I was write on message 35 on topic. You can to read self.
As far as I can see, message 35 is your opinion about the Italian performance for the Battle of Bir el Gobi, and I asked about the whole WW2. The Italian performance at that battle if for you (if I'm not wrong) "average normal". However, as even a broken clock is right twice a day, it is not evident that you think the performance of the Italian Army as a whole for the entire WW2 was equally "average normal". On the other hand, if to achieve one of its greatest successes of the war (or so it seems by the arguments in this thread) the Italian Army needed one of its best divisions on the defensive performing "average normal" against a numerically inferior opponent that performed "disaster" (your own words), it seems that the Italian Army would have had great problems against a "normal average" opponent or in other circunstances. So, to summarise, how would you qualify the performance of the Italian army as a whole during WW2? Maybe also "average normal" (and In comparison with whom), superb, disastrous...?
Regards.
Italy army was be on many many battles on 2.ww. I was study and was analyse on very small number.

It seems to me for to make judgement on all Italy army on analyse very small number battles is not correct.

I have not judgement or opinion on performance on all Italy army.

For to compare.
I was not study and was not analyse all battles by Britain army but i was study and was analyse many. Very quick i was can see sometime good performances and results sometime bad performances and results. When was analyse was be possible for to see doctrine was be same troops was be same quality troops was have same trainings equipments was be same but commanders was bes different and was use different tactics and different decisions. Britain army was lose many battles on commander. Must we to decide all Britain army was be bad ?

For to compare.
Many many peoples was write and was believe Germany army was be much best on everybody. But Germany army was lose war. Peoples like to say war was be lose on decisions hitler on mud on winter on cold etc etc etc How many times was you read Germany army was not good for to win on Soviet union ?

Germany army was lose war = Germany army must to be best but was have bad lucks and bad leader.

Italy army was lose war = Italy army was complete tosh troops was tosh and equipment was tosh.

What is problem ?
Persons was have many prejudices and was make judgements and opinions on prejudices not analysises and understandings.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 06 Aug 2020 17:07

To use average, superb, disastrous to qualify the conduct of the Italian forces between June 1940 and September 1943 is not only meaningless, but also a wast of time .
Everything depends on the circumstances and the opponent .Thus : generalizations are out of the question .The same for Allo, Allo comments .
The Regia Marina did a very good job, maybe better than the KM,although it is difficult to compare both .
While the Army did initially not well in the fighting against Greece,it did more than well in Ethiopia : how many people know that after the capitulation of the Duke of Aosta in May 1941, the war continued as a guerilla war,til September 1943?
Did the British forces in Malaya continue the war as a guerilla war til 1945 ?

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Urmel » 06 Aug 2020 22:53

That's my point.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Aug 2020 03:52

Hi ljadw,

Isn't "The Regia Marina did a very good job....." exactly the sort of generalised comment you are complaining about?

The Italian Navy fought as hard as it reasonably could, but within severe limitations, such as very little radar and desperate fuel shortages. However, to say that it did a "very good job" is to overstate the case. It did a largely professional job in often adverse wider circumstances.

It is a massive overstatement to say that the Italian Army "did more than well in Ethiopia". Firstly, 90% of the troops were not of the Italian Army, but local colonial units. There was only one ad hoc Italian Army division in the theatre.

Of the numerically very large Italian colonial forces in AOI, only the senior Eritrean units were of any quality and it was essentially them that put up the fight at Kassala. This was from formidably strong defensive positions and was the only major action that was competitive. Elsewhere in AOI the Italian ground forces were usually ineffectual, though again with some good reason, such as being massively over expanded with unreliable, unseasoned Ethiopian troops.

Certainly a few Italians remained at large in Ethiopia after the official surrender, but do not confuse their very limited independent activities with the regional revolts by assorted Ethiopians, which they certainly encouraged, but didn't cause.

The British presence in Ethiopia was extremely limited, using units such as the British South Africa Police and battalions of Indian States troops, none of which were prepared for front line combat. No troops were diverted from any active main battle front.

I would say that the Italian Army did better than is usually recognized against Greece. It was initially forced by Mussolini to attack into difficult terrain against the odds and was driven back by larger numbers of Greeks. The Italians did not achieve numerical parity in the theatre with the Greeks for at least six weeks.

Over the campaign as a whole, Italian and Greek battle casualties were very similar. It was only in prisoners that the Greeks held a considerable advantage, and almost all of these, except the officers, were later liberated in Crete. By the time the Germans intervened, the Greek Army had been significantly weakened and overextended by its battles with the Italians.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Old_Fossil » 07 Aug 2020 12:48

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 Aug 2020 03:52

No troops were diverted from any active main battle front.
Sorry Sid, not quite right. The 4th Indian Division was diverted from Operation Compass to be hurriedly sent to the Ethiopian front. It participated in the Batttle of Kasala.
"If things were different, they wouldn't be the same."

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Aug 2020 15:02

Hi old Fossil,

I was a bit slack in my paragraph structure. I was talking about the "guerrilla phase", mentioned in the previous paragraph, which followed the Dule of Aosta's surrender. This diverted no front line Commonwealth troops.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Aug 2020 15:51

Hi Urmel,

Please don't think I am entirely out of sympathy with your position.

I see that James Holland, in Together we Stand, gives Bir el Gobi no name check and just mentions in passing that 2nd Armoured Brigade clashed with Ariete.

This is to severely under represent an action that cost 8th Army a sizeable number of what would appear to have been its most recently delivered tanks to little effect.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Aug 2020 14:11

Hi Guys,

Richard L. DiNardo, on p.194 of his Germany and the Axis Powers, which deals with coalition warfare, says,

"The circumstances that obtained in North Africa often produced lengthy lulls between operations, which allowed Rommel to undertake a fair amount of training for both his German and his Italian units. Measures such as the creation of a German-Italian military dictionary promoted better communication. Finally, the scale of the forces there did not produce a demand for interpreters that simply overwhelmed the ability of the German Army to supply them."

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Dili » 09 Aug 2020 01:23

The many books published by the three services are quite good. I have collected most of the R.E. volumes (I am slowly finishing my set of the Comando Supremo diaries, though these can be found online). I have been posting translations of the field reports found in La meccanizzazione dell'Esercito fino al 1943 on the Comando Supremo website. Here is my Italian section in my home office library. About two-thirds of the books are Italian language, most published by the USSME. I have a few more in the main library.
I find the official Navy books good up to a point, the Army books specially Montanari Africa Sett. poor, Air Force book limited - there is need for private authors books and articles to complement. In most of them you don't have enough data to recreate the war, but that nevertheless is a mistake of most historical warfare books that favor the narrative.

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Urmel
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Urmel » 09 Aug 2020 10:22

I fully agree. The source selection for the army books is especially poor. I read them for the Italian stuff (and even there you have to be careful, eg the tank loss numbers Montanari reports for Ariete in CRUSADER have no relationship to reality) and disregard anything about Germans or Empire.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

ljadw
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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 09 Aug 2020 14:30

Sid Guttridge wrote:
07 Aug 2020 03:52
Hi ljadw,

Isn't "The Regia Marina did a very good job....." exactly the sort of generalised comment you are complaining about?

The Italian Navy fought as hard as it reasonably could, but within severe limitations, such as very little radar and desperate fuel shortages. However, to say that it did a "very good job" is to overstate the case. It did a largely professional job in often adverse wider circumstances.

It is a massive overstatement to say that the Italian Army "did more than well in Ethiopia". Firstly, 90% of the troops were not of the Italian Army, but local colonial units. There was only one ad hoc Italian Army division in the theatre.

Of the numerically very large Italian colonial forces in AOI, only the senior Eritrean units were of any quality and it was essentially them that put up the fight at Kassala. This was from formidably strong defensive positions and was the only major action that was competitive. Elsewhere in AOI the Italian ground forces were usually ineffectual, though again with some good reason, such as being massively over expanded with unreliable, unseasoned Ethiopian troops.

Certainly a few Italians remained at large in Ethiopia after the official surrender, but do not confuse their very limited independent activities with the regional revolts by assorted Ethiopians, which they certainly encouraged, but didn't cause.

The British presence in Ethiopia was extremely limited, using units such as the British South Africa Police and battalions of Indian States troops, none of which were prepared for front line combat. No troops were diverted from any active main battle front.

I would say that the Italian Army did better than is usually recognized against Greece. It was initially forced by Mussolini to attack into difficult terrain against the odds and was driven back by larger numbers of Greeks. The Italians did not achieve numerical parity in the theatre with the Greeks for at least six weeks.

Over the campaign as a whole, Italian and Greek battle casualties were very similar. It was only in prisoners that the Greeks held a considerable advantage, and almost all of these, except the officers, were later liberated in Crete. By the time the Germans intervened, the Greek Army had been significantly weakened and overextended by its battles with the Italians.

Cheers,

Sid
About the RM and the KM: both had a different job,which makes it difficult to compare their performances, but still an attempt :
The U Boats had an offensive mission =to stop the shipping to and from the UK,which would result in the capitulation of Britain .During the war the commanders of the KM,especially the U Boats,claimed that they would force Britain to give up .After the war,and still today,the U Boat lobby is still dominating naval history with its false claims (Battle of the Atlantic,etc,..) and is blaming Hitler for its failure .Because : the U Boats failed .
The RM had a defensive mission =to secure the transports from and to Italy,the Balkans and NA. And ..the RM succeeded.Its success is still hidden and even denied by the Anglo-Saxon historiography,who is still blaming the RM for the Axis defeat in NA.
The following figures are from ''The Italian Navy in WWII,'' by Sadkovich.Table 10.9 P 343
Axis deliveries from men and material 1940-1943
Personnel
Balkans/Aegean : 981900,of whom 900 were lost : less than 1 on 1000
Libya and Tunisia :
Italians : 163150,lost 13150
Germans : 122500,of whom 9600 were lost
Supplies (tons )

Balkans and Aegean :1,965,000 of which 7000 were lost

Libya and Tunisia:
Italian supplies :1.760,000,of which 261000 was lost
German supplies :918,000,of which 179000 was lost .
The truth is that the RM and the Italian merchant fleet won the battle for the control of supply lines to the Balkans and North Africa and that the KM failed to win the battle for the control of supply lines in the Atlantic.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by ljadw » 09 Aug 2020 14:43

About East Africa : Italian strength in August 1940 was 370000,of whom 112000 Italians .The Italians were not 10 % of the total but 30 %.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Aug 2020 16:37

Hi ljadw,

The Italian Army had only two divisions in Ethiopia, one of which was raised from local Italian civilians when war seemed imminent. This would mean about 30,000 men. Add in corps and army troops and the total may have reached 40,000. All the rest were army units that included pioneers, transport, signals, quartermastery, admin., etc., etc.

The best Italian units for local conditions were the four senior, regular colonial infantry brigades from Eritrea. These belonged to the Colonial Ministry, not the Army.

For the Italian order of battle in AOI see:

http://niehorster.org/019_italy/40-06-1 ... y_aoi.html

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Some thoughts on the Italian Army's performance

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Aug 2020 16:43

Hi ljadw,

You post of the RM, "Its success is still hidden and even denied by the Anglo-Saxon historiography, who is still blaming the RM for the Axis defeat in NA."

Can you give us some examples of this hiding, denial and blame?

Cheers,

Sid.

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