Crusader OOB

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FredT
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by FredT » 24 Nov 2022 21:29

This article says Romolo Gessi was the 6th PAI battalion. Can anyone confirm or deny that it was the 6th? I can't find any other sources.

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David W
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by David W » 24 Nov 2022 22:42

Never seen it so described, but I am curious to see what others have to say.

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Urmel
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by Urmel » 25 Nov 2022 08:33

The action on 23 November must be Sidi Rezegh. If the armoured cars were part of Ariete's element in the battle, they aren't mentioned here:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2013/08/10/a ... io-column/

Also haven't got them on the Bir el Gubi OOB, but RECAM is strangely absent everywhere.
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

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jwsleser
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by jwsleser » 25 Nov 2022 17:40

RE: Romolo Gessi. This appears to be correct. Like the GaF, the P.A.I. must have an higher organization than the company. As the P.A.I. units operated widely dispersed doing their police role, some type of regional structure must have existed. This continued into wartime. As it was rare for the P.A.I. units to operate at the battalion level, the name was good enough as the compagnie likely used the name and not the number to identify their parent unit.

In checking other parts in the article, it mentioned that there were P.A.I. battalions in Roma in Sep 43 that fought with the Granatieri. I pulled my copy of the Granatieri history during the battle, La difesa di Roma e i Granatieri di Sardegna nel settembre 1943 to check. On p. 139 it does state that there was a battalion of PAI in Roma (no designation given) and does mention that elements of the battalion did fight with the division on 9 September.

The history of the Lancieri di Montebello (I Lancieri di Montebello alla difesa di Roma) also confirms a battalion of P.A.I. (no ID) on p.51.

BTW, the article incorrectly identifies the Granatieri reserve battalion as the II btg., it was actually the I/1º rgt. granatieri under maggiore Costa.

Pista! Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
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FredT
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by FredT » 25 Nov 2022 19:03

Urmel wrote:
25 Nov 2022 08:33
The action on 23 November must be Sidi Rezegh. If the armoured cars were part of Ariete's element in the battle, they aren't mentioned here:

https://rommelsriposte.com/2013/08/10/a ... io-column/

Also haven't got them on the Bir el Gubi OOB, but RECAM is strangely absent everywhere.
Montanari shows RECAM between Pavia and Bir el Gubi on 11/23 and 11/24 (pp. 508, 524, and 533).

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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by diciassette2000 » 25 Nov 2022 19:11

It doesn't appear to me that Romolo Gessi had ever had a numerical identifier anyway.... hope it helps
In June 1940, at the time of the outbreak of war, the PAI (Polizia dell'Africa Italiana), the colonial police force set up in 1937, was practically established only in Italian East Africa, where the political circumstances military had made it more necessary (and where the resistance of the Royal Carabinieri was less). In Libya there were only a few dozen men, coming in part from the two Directorates General of Police of Tripoli and Benghazi, as well as coming from the pre-existing Corps of Indigenous Police Agents and a few Libyan agents. At the beginning of operations in Libya, the few PAI forces present in Libya fought in a formation unit called the "Libyan PAI Maneuver Battalion". The desire to have a unit of the corps participate in war operations in North Africa had led to the establishment in Italy of a machine-gun battalion made up of a command and two companies, consisting of nine officers, 36 non-commissioned officers, 148 graduates and guards and twelve colonial agents, equipped with 115 motorcycles, 10 Guzzi motorcarrelli, 8 Lancia Ro, 4 SPA 39, a colonial Fiat 508 and a Ceirano bus. Armament included 8 Breda 37 machine guns, 202 pistols and 194 Beretta submachine guns. The unit was, yes, small in number, but it could deploy a large volume of fire. The battalion, which assumed the name of "Romolo Gessi", until then reserved for the "school battalion", was ready, in fact, since April 1941, but, despite the pressure from the Ministry of Italian Africa for its ready transfer to Libya, the moment of embarkation was slow in coming and the battalion had to continue training in Nettunia (this was the name given by fascism to Anzio and Nettuno united together), where it was joined and reinforced by a company of armored cars strong ten means. A portion of the personnel was finally embarked with the means, in fact, in Naples, while the bulk of the department reached Tripoli by air from Castelvetrano in early November 1941. From Tripoli the battalion was sent to Cyrenaica and stopped in the middle of the month to the Berta village. Here the 1st machine-gun company was detached from the battalion to be used for other tasks, while the 2nd and the armored car company reached the command of the CAM (Maneuver Army Corps) in El Adem in Marmarica to join the RECAM (Exploring Group of the Maneuver Army Corps). The operational cycle began on November 20, due to armored cars, sent in recognition, were not recognized as Italian by the troops of the "Pavia" division who opened fire against them setting fire to one and seriously damaging the other. On November 21, 1941, the AB 40 armored cars of the Corps attacked New Zealand departments while the "flying batteries" that were supposed to support them succeeded in their intent and the eight armored cars, moreover deprived of the support of the tanks, had to face the impact of ten Mark 2. The result was that the armored car n.1 was hit and set on fire while the n. 2 was immobilized. Despite the losses, however, the clash obtained its effect because the New Zealanders stopped and stood in defense in the combat zone, giving up advancing. On 1 December 1941 the armored car n.4 was destroyed by mistake by German Stukas. On 2 December three armored cars were made available to the CAM and the other three remained at the base, organized as a stronghold. In the following days, the retreat towards El Adem began under British attacks. On 7 December, when Tobruch had by now been unblocked, it withdrew from El Adem towards the west and in the evening another armored car (number 10) was damaged. In two sections, first the armored cars and the motor-gunners and then the carriageway, the two companies reached the village of Berta. During this last phase of the retreat the armored car n.8 was lost. On December 18, the order was received to go to Libya in the village of Gioda, over a thousand kilometers away, for the reconstitution of the unit. He arrived there in five stages and here also met the 14th machine gun company and the four armored cars detached from the CAM. The losses suffered in men and vehicles (there were only six armored cars left) however induced the commands to dissolve the battalion. With an order dated 14 January 1942, the "Romolo Gessi" was dissolved and its place was taken by the " 3rd motorized PAI Romolo Gessi company", under the CAM, on two armored car sections and a machine-gun squad, and by the "2. a PAI motomitraglieri company", employed by the AS Intendenza (North Africa) engaged in the traffic police service from Tripoli to the front line. To the 2nd and 3rd companies there was then to add the " 1st PAI port company" in charge of the surveillance of the port of Tripoli, established on 20 January 1942. Another port company, the 5th, would later was incorporated on 1 July 1942 in Benghazi. With the second Italian-German offensive, in March 1942, Cyrenaica was conquered, but behind the coastal strip, on the Gebel traditionally hostile to the Italians, the situation remained confused due to the presence of armed dissident elements and Senussi soldiers of the Libyan Arab Force, organized by the British and disbanded after the fall of Benghazi. Thus, on 20 March, the political and military command of the Cyrenaic Jebel was established in Barce and the 3rd PAI motorized company was placed at the disposal of this command. During the night between 13 and 14 September, two armored cars of the PAI disabled some of the trucks that had carried out a successful raid against the airfield of Barce. Together with the members of the 3rd company, elements of the "Libyan maneuver battalion PAI" also took part in this clash, the establishment of which had been foreseen by a decree of the governor of Libya dated 20 October 1941. This is the only hint of some form of war participation of this department, organized during 1942 in Tripolitania, in Misurata Marina, and about 600 men strong. In addition to proceeding, over the months, with the replacement of numerous elements engaged at the front, the general command of the PAI had decided to strengthen the war contribution of the corps with another armored car company, officially the 4th motorized company, prepared since July 1942 in Italy. Once again, reminders and indications were needed to speed up boarding. The company landed in Tripoli and then headed for Cyrenaica. Here it was first deployed together with the 3rd in the Barce area, then, on 13 November, at the time of the last British offensive, it was placed at the disposal of the square in Benghazi. In the retreat, the two companies were placed in the rear and followed the entire Via Balbia up to Tripoli, often being engaged. Having abandoned Tripoli, they crossed the Tunisian border in early January preceded by the other units of the corps. The PAI departments formed by nationals were joined by Ascari departments for which the enrollment of 6,300 units was envisaged (RD No. 1211 of 10.6.1937). For the latter, both in Libya and in AOI, recruitment and training centers will be set up. The police Ascari will be employed both in the Police Headquarters of the large centers and in Bands active in the provinces. The regular bands of Ascari will be divided into "Government Bands" and "Confinement Bands". While the former will have the task of dealing with emergency situations on any territory, the border bands will exercise control over the border lines, preventing incursions and trespassing, carrying out customs police operations and maintaining public order and security. Irregular gangs will also be used for border control.
Armament
Compared to the standard of the Italian army of the time, the armament of the PAI had truly exceptional characteristics. To each PAI guard, in addition to the erected B pistol mod. 34 cal. 9, the Beretta 38 Automatic Musket was in fact supplied. The Beretta submachine gun, intended to arm the PAI, was equipped with a folding dagger bayonet in the barrel, which will make this weapon a real rarity. In addition, it was equipped with a "dust cap" case for use when traveling by motorcycle. Furthermore, from the moment of its formation to July 1943, the PAI registered 1000 motorcycles and 900 motor vehicles, in addition to the Fiat Ansaldo SPA AB40 and AB41 armored cars. The Italian African Police had the Fiat Ansaldo SPA AB40 and AB41 armored cars at their disposal. An excellent combat vehicle, propelled by a 6-cylinder in-line Spa Abm engine, water-cooled with 78 Hp for the AB40 and 88 Hp for the AB41, the blindo had four steering wheels and two spare wheels mounted in neutral on the hips. The positioning of the latter two allowed it to overcome even very rough terrain. The weight was 6.48 tons, the armor of the hull was 8.5 mm thick and that of the turret 18 mm. The armament consisted of two 8 mm machine guns in the turret and one fixed in the casemate, oriented towards the rear firing sector. Initially, two AB 40s, with "Colonial Police" plates, were sent to Libya to be tested. These first examples mounted a large coaxial lighthouse with the two machine guns on the top of the turret, which had to allow optimal operation even in the absence of light. Subsequently, the photoelectric disappeared because it was considered useless and cumbersome. The Colonial Corps, later, will largely adopt the SPA AB41, born from the modifications made to the SPA AB40 and suggested by the tests conducted in Libya. The AB41 version differed from its predecessor in improved armament and increased armour. Indeed, one of the two turret machine guns was replaced by a 20 mm cannon, while the turret armor was now 22 mm. The total weight was also increased and brought to 7.47 tons.
All the best
Maurizio

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jwsleser
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by jwsleser » 25 Nov 2022 19:50

I see Maurizio has added some excellent material. My timeline on the movements/location of the RECAM are posted on Comando Supremo

RECAM during Crusader

Pista! Jeff
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5th Greek Regiment
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FredT
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by FredT » 26 Nov 2022 03:13

Thanks Maurizio, that fills a lot of holes in my knowledge of R. Gessi. Sadkovich's Italian Navy book says (p. 211) that R. Gessi's armored cars were shipped in September 1941. Can we conclude from your source that the armored car personnel arrived at the same time, or did they not arrive until November with the motorcycle companies?

For Trieste during Crusader, I was confused by the letter in the back of Montanari V2, pp. 849-850: "Montezemolo to the Supreme Command on a Bastico-Rommel conversation" PM December 11-12, 1941. According to Google Translate, Montezemolo (Chief of the Operations Section Africa) complained that Rommel expected too much of Trieste. It was so-called motorizzata but in fact autoportata and Rommel expected more than they can actually give of movement.

But Jeff's excellent article gives me the impression that motorizzata and autoportata mean the same thing, and that autotrasportabile is the kind of division that's only partially motorized. Was Montezemolo an idiot, or is autoportata not fully motorized?

Here's the actual wording: Il generale Rommel chiede moltissimo alle sue truppe (ne sanno qualcosa le stesse divisioni tedesche, che pur sono veramente mobili ovunque) e tende a chiedere alle nostre ed in particolare alla Trieste - cosiddetta motorizzata ma di fatto autoportata - piu di quanto possono dare in fatto di movimento.

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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by diciassette2000 » 26 Nov 2022 09:41

Hello Fred
Unfortunately, the Italian language involves strange turns of phrase that sometimes those who are familiar with other languages, especially of the Anglo-Saxon type, can unfortunately escape or be misinterpreted. This is the case of the Italian divisions which in the case you examined had instead a big intrinsic difference. The MOTORIZED division had a key feature. In other words, at least on paper, it had the possibility of transporting all its departments by truck via the divisional autogroup. Then there was the AUTOTRASPORTABILE division which was, as I anticipated, an all-Italian euphemism to say that substantially it was a normal infantry division which, however, had the possibility of transporting on its own trucks or tractors only both field and anti-tank artillery while the infantry They COULD be transported on trucks by means of the assignment from time to time programmed by the commands of the necessary trucks coming from the Army Corps or Army autogroups. Then war during and also on various texts still available we find the noun AUTOPORTATA which generally refers to only one single unit (for example self-ported Bersaglieri battalion). That noun actually did not exist in the nomenclature existing in the Royal Army of the wartime 1940-45 but was and is still used to highlight a single motorized unit by road haulage (usually trucks). It should also be noted that in the current practice of the Second World War, the Italian units suffered from a chronic lack of vehicles and often even units for which road transport was envisaged did not actually have it and in fact became "AUTOTRASPORTABLE" due to having a TOE of MOTORIZED or SELF-PORTING. I hope I have clarified some doubts for you
All the best
Maurizio

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jwsleser
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by jwsleser » 26 Nov 2022 15:16

Fred

That is an interesting remark by Montezemolo.

First, yes autotrasporta and motorizzata mean the same thing, a unit that is fully transported by wheeled vehicles. It is the usage that is different. As Maurizio wrote, one says a battaglione autotrasportato and a divisione motorizzata but not the reverse.

Reading the entire memorandum and the notes from the meeting, I believe Montezemolo is dealing with the differences in the meaning of the terms used by the two armies. In this specific case, the difference between a motorized Italian division and a motorized German division. The German division has a large number of tracked and 4x4 or 4x6 wheeled vehicles that provide superior off-road performance. The scale of vehicle authorization is also better than in the Italian unit. The Italian unit doesn't have any tracked vehicles, and many of the truck types used by Italy have poor cross-country capability. So the statement IMHO means that Rommel doesn't understand that the Italian division only has trucks and he shouldn't expect Italian motorized divisions to maneuver with the same mobility as demonstrated by German motorized divisions. He is using the word motorizzata as understood by the Germans in that sentence.

I have read of similar issues in Russia involving the C.S.I.R.

Montezemolo isn't using the statement to imply autotrasportabile or something different.

Pista! Jeff
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Urmel
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Re: Crusader OOB

Post by Urmel » 27 Nov 2022 17:41

FredT wrote:
26 Nov 2022 03:13
Was Montezemolo an idiot, or is autoportata not fully motorized?
Montezemolo was certainly not an idiot.

Apart from Jeff's explanation, it is also important to note that much of the organic transport of the divisions (both German and Italian) would have been withdrawn to serve supply needs due to the extraordinary length of the supply chain created in the first instance by Rommel ignoring his orders in March 1941. So even where a unit might have arrived in North Africa with all its transport (a big if given the situation with sinkings from summer 1941 onwards), this transport might then have been withdrawn to serve other purpose at some stage of them moving to the front, and all they had was minimal transport and some paper chits in exchange for their trucks.
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

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