101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 03 Aug 2015 01:29

There were also a couple notable Italian naval victories against the Germans around Bastia.


Apple pie, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I did a little research and found the following paragraph from a book written by historian Vincent O'Hara, that supports your claim:

"After the Armistice many small unit surface actions occurred in the western Mediterranean beginning on the morning of 9 September 1943. The German navy launched a surprise attack to capture the port of Bastia in northern Corsica. When this failed, a small flotilla consisting of UJ2203, UJ22119, five MFPs, and a rescue launch fled the harbor. The Italian torpedo boat Aliseo engaged them and sank all eight (with belated help from shore batteries and a corvette). Italian corvettes had several other skirmishes with German coastal craft and shore batteries at Piombino sank TA11 before the Italian navy withdrew south in accordance with the terms of the armistice." (The German Fleet at War, 1939-1945, Naval Institute Press, 10 Jul 2013)

Italian naval craft and surface batteries had cost the Germans dearly:

"By the time it was over, some five hundred Germans had lost their lives at sea ... the Italians wouldn't allow the Germans to take control of Corsica ..."
(The Ibex Trophy, John Cammalleri; Salvatore Cammalleri)

There is a desperate sense of wish-fulfillment in some of these claimed Italian "victories". Corsica is one such.


In the initial fighting that took place at Bastia, an Italian ground counterattack forced the Germans to retreat as the following excerpt from the book Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945 shows:

"Elsewhere, fighting between the erstwhile allies had already erupted. At Bastia, in Corsica, German navy troops seized the harbor at midnight ... Italian troops counterattacked early that morning and drove the Germans from their positions." (Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945, Vincent O'Hara, p. 220, Naval Institute Press, 2009)

The Italian troops held their ground in the initial ground fighting for Bastia:

"Only one hundred French troops landed on Corsica on September 12th, three days after fighting began at midnight on September 9th between the Germans and Italians when the Germans attacked Bastia ... The Italians had 74,000 men in Corsica including the "Cremona" and "Friuli" divisions. However, most of the troops were in coastal defense and support units ... When the Germans attacked Bastia on September 9th, the Italians fought the Germans alone ... the Italians ... deserve every credit for their part in the battle. The Italians on Corsica kept their arms ... The Italian units on Corsica moved to Sardinia and ... became "Gruppi di Combattimento" or Combat Groups and fought alongside the Allies. The Anglo-American version of events in Corsica, as well as those of the French, are examples of how official histories reinforced other mistaken accounts of what happened in the Italian Campaign." (Forgotten Battles: Italy's War of Liberation, 1943-1945, Charles T. O'Reilly, p. 92

In the Corsican countryside, the Italian troops proved too much for the Germans:

"The more the fight intensified, the more their determination to defeat the Germans and drive them out of the island increased. The Italians knew the territory well, so as each German group tried to enter the main roads where the Italians had established positions, the Germans suffered great losses. In many cases, in order to expedite their exodus to Bastia to join the other Germans, they rendered inoperable or even destroyed large amounts of their own equipment and abandoned it. They also abandoned eight hundred of their men, who were promptly taken prisoner." (The Ibex Trophy, John Cammalleri; Salvatore Cammalleri, p. 124)

Sid Guttridge
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby Sid Guttridge » 03 Aug 2015 16:26

Hi carlodinechi,

"German navy troops"? What, I wonder, were these "German Navy troops"? The German Navy didn't have marines in the Anglo-American sense. It did, however, have coastal artillery. Is this what was meant? Or perhaps sailors issued with small arms?

I presume that the Germans on Corsica were almost entirely wiped out and that only a handful escaped, given that they were outnumbered 6 or 8 to one by Italians on land and the Allies dominated sea and air?

If not, then I would repeat my earlier suggestion: "Another way to look at it is that 80,000 Italian occupation troops failed to prevent the successful withdrawal of 12,000 isolated Germans despite overwhelming Allied naval and aerial superiority!"

I would suggest that claiming as victories such limited local successes only serves to bring the Italian forces into ridicule and hinders the search for real explanations for historical events.

Cheers,

Sid.

apple pie
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby apple pie » 04 Aug 2015 05:32

"Another way to look at it is that 80,000 Italian occupation troops failed to prevent the successful withdrawal of 12,000 isolated Germans despite overwhelming Allied naval and aerial superiority!"

Sid, Perhaps you consider El Alamein a British defeat since 200,000 British (and allies) failed to prevent the withdrawal of 80,000 axis troops despite their overwhelming superiority. Or does this type of logic only apply when referring to Italians?

As stated earlier, the majority of the 80,000 Italians on Corsica were unable or unwilling to fight against their former allies.
There was no major allied presence around Corsica at this time, it was busy further south. And Corsica was liberated which could not have happened without Italian involvement, at least not in Sept/Oct 1943. The fact that the Germans had to evacuate is a victory.

The Germans did have naval infantry. Not certain what Carlo is referring to but perhaps it was naval infantry or simply sailors who fought as infantry?

carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 15 Aug 2015 01:17

Major Italian victory, at least 50,000 Greeks surrender to the Italian 9th Army during the Battle for Perati Bridge

13.04.1941 Bersaglieri troops recapture Koplik. Image

Il 13, l'azione offensiva si esplica su i baraccamenti militari di Coritza e sui ponti di Doliana e Perati: il ponte di Perati viene interrotto con tiro in picchiata. (L´aeronautica italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, 2 volumes, Giuseppe Santoro, Vol. 1, p. 165)

14.04.1941 14 de abril - Telegraph a Pirzio Biroli "Apunte con todos los medios de Hani Kalibaki. El éxito depende de ... Esta mañana, el retorno de los chiflados y los bombarderos y la acción continuará durante todo el día. Teléfono para Duce (Diario, 1940-1943, Ugo Cavallero, Giuseppe Bucciante, p. 156)

15.04.1941 I bombardieri in picchiata bombardano nuovamente i ponti di Perati, Doliania, Permeti, interrompendo questi ultimi e mitragliando automezzi sulla strada Perati-Gianin[a. (L´aeronautica italiana nella seconda guerra mondiale, 2 volumes, Giuseppe Santoro, Vol. 1, p. 165)

21.04.1941 "Italian press dispatches said "a big battle to wipe out the Greek army" was raging at Perati Bridge which spans the Viosa River at the Greek-Albanian frontier. Italian dive bombers were said to have destroyed the bridge, trapping the Greeks on the Albanian side ..." (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 6776&hl=en)

22.04.1941 Dispatches to Rome said a colonel of the Greek general staff and two other Greek officers carrying a white flag appeared last night before the Italian front line and asked to be taken to the Italian commander. Conducted to the commander of the Ninth army, they told him the Greek high commander wanted to surrender its two armies in western and northern Greece, where they were surrounded. The Italian commander quickly drafted the text of an unconditional surrender, which the Greek emissary signed. Il Giornale D'Italia's correspondent said the Greek armies that surrendered did so only after a desperate battle at Perati bridge in which four Greek divisions virtually were destroyed. Two regiments of the Evzones were wiped out almost to a man, the dispatch said, and a single Greek battalion had 500 dead. (The Milwaukee Sentinel, 24 April, 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 3130&hl=en)

22 aprile 1941. Ponte Perati. Il Battaglione Edolo è il primo a raggiungerlo; il ponte, in legno, unisce le opposte sponde del Sarandaporos che segna il confine fra Albania e Grecia. ... Intanto sopraggiungono altri reparti del 5° e dell'8° Alpini, il reggimento cavalleggeri di Milano, le Divisioni Bari e Taro (Fronte greco-albanese, c'ero anch'io, Giulio Bedeschi, p. 225)

Il reggimento Lancieri di Milano, rinforzato e sostenuto dal 59 reggimento alpini, supera le resistenze e procede oltre. ... bersaglieri motociclisti, seguiti da: Lancieri di Milano, si gettano verso Ponte Perati ove giungono alle 6,20 del mattino del .. (La guerra italiana, retroscena della disfatti, Volume 2, Emilio Canevari, p. 330)

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Last edited by carlodinechi on 15 Aug 2015 15:53, edited 2 times in total.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2015 10:40

Hi Carlodinechi,

Now here I have a lot of sympathy with the Italians.

While their campaign against Greece was far from brilliantly conducted, it nevertheless inflicted very heavy casualties on the Greeks. Indeed, the number of killed and wounded on both sides was similar. It was only in the number of prisoners and reported frostbite invalides that the relative numbers heavily favoured the Greeks. The Italians, with their much larger population, numbers now on their side and a summer campaigning season ahead, were arguably gradually winning an unspectacular war of attrition against Greece when the Germans struck.

The Italians in Albania also drew on themselves the vast majority of the Greek Army, making it much easier for mechanised German forces to break through further East, after the Greeks had already been seriously worn down by the Italians.

The Greek Armies retreating from the Italians in Albania made a political point of surrendering to the Germans in order to spite the Italians. They were, if I remember rightly, obliged to sign a later surrender to the Italians.

In many ways the Germans snatched a cheap victory in Greece that had to a great extent been earned by six months of attritional war by the Italians in Albania.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby Sid Guttridge » 15 Aug 2015 10:56

Hi Apple pie,

I never claimed what happened in Corsica was an Italian defeat, so I don't have to defend such a proposition.

My point is that allowing some very heavily outnumbered (6 or 8 to 1)Germans to escape from an island around and over which the Allies had aerial or naval superiority strikes me as pretty thin grounds for claiming an Italian victory. It looks more like a missed opportunity, and not just for the Italians. Perhaps only the French seized the political moment, and their military commitment was minimal.

Cheers,

Sid.

carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 15 Aug 2015 14:25

Perati Bridge: The Highway of Death of the Greek Army in Albania

The Italian army, Stefani said, is "picking up the pieces" of the Greek army, while planes continually harass retreating Greek columns. Stefani said periodic bombings left the road blocked by hundreds of motor vehicles, overturned, wrecked and set afire. "Entire encampments have been thrown into confusion, masses of troops scattered, and supply services destroyed," the news agency said in dispatches from the front. (Italians Say Big Battle With Greek Army Rages, The Day, 21 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 5607&hl=en)

The Greeks were declared to be virtually helpless, partly because of the clutter of their own impedimenta. The greatest slaughter and destruction is taking place at the ruins of Perati bridge, which spanned the Viosa river gorge at the Greek-Albanian frontier, Il Popolo Di Roma's correspondent reported. Fascist dive bombers blasted away the structure, trapping the Greek army on jammed roads, Italian artillery also was working havoc among the Greeks, the Italians reported. (14 Divisions Virtually Trapped at Bridge, Italians Say, The Milwaukee Sentinel, 21 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 4643&hl=en)

Italian dive bombers were said to have destroyed the bridge, trapping the Greeks on the Albanian side
... (Allies Fall Back to New Defense Lines, The Southeast Missourian, 21 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 4335&hl=en)

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Stefani, the official Italian news agency, declared jubilantly that the Greek army was losing "four-fifths of its permanent forces and all the war material supplied by Britain." The news agency said that the Greek route of retreat, on the road from Ioannina to Arta, 35 miles south, was littered with the wreckage of hundreds of motor vehicles ... (Allies Fall Back to New Defense Lines, The Evening Independent, 21 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 6037&hl=en)

A Stefani dispatch said the Greeks had lost the best part of fourteen divisions, sacrificed in a battle at Perati bridge, at the Albanian-Greek frontier, to give the British a chance to retreat ... (Diary of World Events, John Appleton Haven Hopkins, National Advertising Company, 1948)
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carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 15 Aug 2015 16:14

50,000 soldiers of the Yugoslav Army surrender at Scutari, Mostar and Delnice

06-11.04.1941 On 6 April the Yugoslav Third Army went on the offensive against Italian units located along the Yugoslav-Albanian border. It was the enemy's intention to capture Scutari and roll up the left flank of Italian forces engaged against the Greeks, but General Ugo Cavallero foresaw this move ... the Zetska Division advanced along the shore of Lake Scutari, toward the city of Scutari until 8 April, then paused until it was reinforced by the Herzegovacke Division on 11 April. But they got no closer than nine miles (15km) from the city, for the Centauro Armoured Division and the Guide Cavalry Regiment blocked the road down which they were advancing. (Regio Esercito: The Italian Royal Army in Mussolini's Wars, 1935-1943, Patrick Cloutier, p. 67)

Nevertheless, the Yugoslavs continued their attacks with their remaining forces north of Scutari, without, however, being able to seriously threaten the city. (The Mediterranean, South-east Europe, and North Africa, 1939-1941: From Italy's Declaration of Non-belligerence to the Entry of the United States Into the War,Gerhard Schreiber, Bernd Stegemann, Detlef Vogel, p. 505, Clarendon Press, 1995)

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11.04.1941 On 11 April, 30,000 Yugoslav Army soldiers surrendered to the Regio Esercito at Delnice. On the same day, Italian Marines made an amphibious landing on the Croat island of Krk. (Regio Esercito: The Italian Royal Army in Mussolini's Wars, 1935-1943, Patrick Cloutier, p. 67

18.04.1941 Capture of Argyrokastron in Southern Albania and of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) on the Southern Yugoslav coast were announced in the Italian war communique today. The High Command said motorized units of the Second Army Corps took Ragusa in cooperation with flying columns from Albania which had occupied Cetinje and Cattaro - between Ragusa and the Northern Albanian border. Italian forces also have taken the ports of Palermo and Premeti in Southeastern Albania, the communique said ... the High Command said that in Yugoslavia, Italian forces had occupied Mostar, south of Sarajevo, and Metcovic, south of Mostar. (Rome Claims Capture of Two Key Cities On Yugoslav Coast, in South Albania, The Pittsburgh Press, 18 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 3944&hl=en)

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carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 15 Aug 2015 16:52

Italian Air Force pulverizes Yugoslav Air Force, defeats Yugoslav Navy and covers several seaborne landings.

06.04.1941 Naval Bases of Spalato and Cattaro, An Arsenal at Theodo Near Cattaro, and Air Base at Mostar Raided in Opening of Hostilities ... The announcement claimed two ships were sunk at Spalato and one at Cattaro harbor. Two destroyers were reported hit, one in Cattaro harbor, the other at Theodo. (Italians Claim Bombing Of Yugoslavian Bases, Ottawa Citizen, 7 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 5876&hl=en)

06.04.1941 One destroyer, 4 small torpedo boats, and 10 MTBs of the Yugoslav navy deployed to assist in an attack on the Italian enclave at Zara, but Italian bombers soon put them to flight. The Italians improvised several battalion-sized (and many smaller) landings in the Dalmatian islands. Italy captured nearly the entire Yugoslav navy. Only four ships escaped this fate; one destroyer was blown up in harbor, while 1 submarine and 2 MTBs were able to join the Allies ... (World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Spencer Tucker)

07.04.1941 Italian bombers joined in raids on Serb airports, railways and barracks. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7 April 1941 https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 1857&hl=en)

07.04.1941 The German and Italian air attacks on the airfields essentially wiped out the Yugoslavian Air Force. Italian air attacks on Spalato, Cattaro and Mostar cause a lot of damage. (World War II Sea War, Volume 3: The Royal Navy is Bloodied in the Mediterranean, Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, p. 374)

12.04.1941 A week later, on April 12-13, Italian bombers struck Sarajevo in a campaign of apparently indiscriminate bombing, killing civilians and wreaking widespread destruction on the city. (Sarajevo: A Biography,
Robert J. Donia)

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carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 16 Aug 2015 02:04

Indeed, the number of killed and wounded on both sides was similar. It was only in the number of prisoners and reported frostbite invalides that the relative numbers heavily favoured the Greeks.


I appreciate your comments Guttridge, except that the Italian 9th Army in cooperation with the Italian Air Force hammered the last nails in the coffin of the Greek Army in Albania, and took more than double the number of POWs the Greeks claimed to have taken, in just one, two or three days of fighting at Ponte Perati. In the end, the Italians showed 'how it's done' to the Greeks, playing a much more 'beautiful game'.

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The Italian capture of Koritsa in Albania on 15 April, also broke the back of the British, Australian and New Zealand divisions that had hoped to check the German invasion of Greece from the Mount Olympus strongpoint.

Their courage, like that of the defenders of the Metaxas line, was to no avail; as so often happens to troops occupying a static position in mobile warfare, the battle was being decided elsewhere ... List now detached SS 'Adolf Hitler' from the main axis of advance of XXXXth corps and sent it forward in the direction of Koritsa. Far from counter-attacking, however, the demoralized Greeks gave way and thus allowed the Italians to occupy the town without resistance on 15 April. With 9th armoured division crossing the upper Aliakhmon and reaching Servia on the next day, the British forces on the Olympus found themselves surrounded on both flanks. following a decision made by Wilson three days earlier they now started falling back across Thessaly to Thermopylae, leaving in their wake 20,000 Greek troops who, being less well endowed with motor vehicles, failed to escape in time and were captured by the Germans. (Martin van Crevald, Hitler's Strategy 1940-1941: The Balkan Clue, p. 162, Cambridge University Press, 1973)

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carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 24 Aug 2015 09:43

Tobruk Defences Cracked in Italian Flame Thrower Attack. Aussies Sent Packing.

The little Fiat-Ansaldos go up in front with flame-throwers in order to clean up the triangle. Long streaks of flame, thick smoke, filthy stink. We provide cover until 2345 hours, then retire through the gap http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=ht ... 5+22:14:28 (THE EARLY ATTEMPTS and SEIGE)

La sera del 29 il 1° plotone della 3a, agli ordini del Sototenente Ernesto Betti, andò in azione con un gruppo comandato dal Tenente dei Bersaglieri Melis. Questo reparto era costituito di un plotone Arditi dell'8° Bersaglieri e di 2 carri M13. Guastatori aprirono un varco nel campo minato protetto da filo spinato, antistante la Ridotto R3, I'assaltarono e la conquistarono utilizzando lanciafiamme e cariche cubiche ... Un commento al Bollettino di Guerra, trasmesso alle 13:00 del 10 maggio, informava che reparti del Genio Guastatori avevano espugnato 5 fortini della cerchia di Tobruk. (Genio Guastatori, Silvestri Angioni Lombardi , p. 47, Edizioni R.E.I., 2015)

Details of the use of flame-throwers in Thursday's series of attacks were brought in this morning by an Australian platoon commander. He said that the enemy employed hooded infantrymen with flamethrowers in an attempt to smoke the defenders out of their dugouts .. (Fortress Tobruk, Jan Holman Yindrich, p. 144, Ernest Benn, 1951)

... flame-throwers, always something of an embarrassment to admit ... They were such horrific weapons ... (Tobruk 1941: The Desert Siege, Timothy Hall, p. 105, Methuen, 1984)

We know little of what happened in R3 and R5 because the survivors were all captured ... (Tobruk 1941: Capture-Siege-Relief, Chester Wilmot, p. 139, Angus and Robertson Limited, 1944)

On the night of 3rd May, the Italian Trento and Pavia Divisions ... repelled an Australian counterattack. (The Forgotten Axis: Germany's Partners and Foreign Volunteers in World War II, J. Lee Ready, p. 310)

Martin's orders required him to carry out his assault in two stages, the first to re-capture R8, R7, R6 and R5, , in that order, as well as the white house near R8 from where the enemy was still directing machine-gun fire on the garrison, and the second to capture R4, R3, R2 and R1. Most of the infantry they would encounter would be Italian ... (Tobruk 1941: The Desert Siege, Timothy Hall, p. 170, Methuen, 1984)

On 4 May, the positions held by 5 Battalion of 8 Bersaglieri under Major Gaggetti around Redoubts 6, 7 and 8 were counter-attacked by the Australians. The Italians responded with strong defensive fire and launched a counter-attack supported by three L3 light tanks. The latter were quickly destroyed at close quarters, and the Australians captured Redoubt 7. The Bersaglieri supported by one M13 tank and three armoured cars, and forced them back. (Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa, Ian Walker, p. ?, Crowood, 2012)

In Tobruk we became part of the 9th Division with the 28th and 16th Battalions. Each Platoon had to do two or three weeks in the Salient, which was a section of ‘no man’s land’ where the enemy had driven us back from fortifications that skirted Tobruk from sea to sea. Time up there wasn’t exactly pleasurable. https://web.archive.org/web/20090329020 ... /index.cfm? (ANZAC. A Grateful State Remembers)

In one five-day period in early May 1941, after the second major German assault on the Red Line, medical units treated 30 cases of self-inflicted bullet wounds. (A Medical Emergency: Major-General 'Ginger' Burston and the Army Medical Service in World War II, Ian Howie-Willis, p. 187, Big Sky Publishing, 2012)

More disturbing was the large number of self-inflicted wound (SIW) cases. During a single week in May the division reported thirty SIW cases... (Armies of Empire: The 9th Australian and 50th British Divisions in Battle 1939–1945, Allan Converse, p. 86, Cambridge University Press, 2011)

On the night on 16 May 1941, two platoons of the 3rd Combat Engineer Company together with flamethrower teams of the "Brescia" Infantry Division ... started the attack. With total disregard to danger and with their usual stealth, the combat sappers opened three paths in the wire fencing in front of each assault group. They use explosive charges in tubes. Fighting side by side with the raiders, in fierce hand-to-hand combat, they inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, and obtained the objective. http://www.guastatori.it/i-guastatori-n ... btg-g-gua/ (GRUPPO NAZIONALE GUASTATORI DEL GENIO)

... il reparto tedesco penetrò profondamente nel campo minato ma fu scoperto e fatto segno di una forte resistenza nemica. Essendo venuto a mancare l'effetto sorpresa i Sturpioneer tedeschi subirono gravissime perdite. Riuscirono a conquistare la posizione ma non riuscivano a tenerla, causa i contrattacchi delgi Australiani. A questo punto il Maggiore Franceschini, di sua iniziativa, mando la 3a ad attacare sul fianco gli Australiani mentre la 4a si oppose frontalmente ai nemici.Cosi le due compagnie conquistarono la quota. I tedeschi, fortemente provati, ebbero oltre 100 caduti, si ritirarono lasciando i soli Guastatori a presidiare la quota. Il Maggiore Betz, informo il comando del comportamiento dei Guastatori, Qualche giorno piu tardi arrivo Rommel, per vistare il reparto, si fece dare 4 nomi e li premio con la Coce di ferro II classe: Ten. Mario Pazzaglia, Ten. Aroldo Anzani, Sten, Rolando De Angelis e Serg. Mario Venturi. (Genio Guastatori, Silvestri Angioni Lombardi , pp. 50-51, Edizioni R.E.I., 2015)

Today we lost posts S8, S9 and S10, the occupants having been taken prisoners in the circumstances set out in the attached document. This is the second time that portion of our garrison has vanished. As far as can be ascertained the number of casualties was negligible, the posts having been just mopped up – rather a new experience for the AIF. Australia in the War of 1939-1945. 4 volumes, Chapter 7: Midsummer in the Fortress, p. 251, Australian War Memorial, 1952-1968 )

In May 1941 a 'war neurosis clinic' of 70 beds was established in an underground concrete shelter in the city. Of the 204 admissions treated by Lt Colonel E.L. Cooper and Captain A.J.M Sinclair 61% were reported as serving with fighting units... (Shell Shock to PTSD: Military Psychiatry from 1900 to the Gulf War, Edgar Jones, Simon Wessely, p. 67, Psychology Press, 2005)

In North Africa, Italian and German planes, protected by Italian fighters, bombed enemy aircraft batteries at Tobruk ... https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 5589&hl=en (Italians Hammer At Tobruk, Malta, The Sunday Morning Star, 1 June, 1941)

Renewed air attacks ... on the beleaguered British stronghold at Tobruk, Libya, were reported by the Italian high command today. An attempted British attack from surrounded Tobruk was broken, the daily war bulletin said.
https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 9489&hl=en (Italian Planes Raid Malta And Tobruk, The Day, 7 June, 1941)

The 9th Division tried sixty-four soldiers between June and October 1941 ... Patrols grew less popular and more dangerous as the siege went on ... Soldiers became more reluctant to take risks, or even to go out on patrol at all. Lieutenant Samuel Cooper of the 2/12th Battalion 'nearly had a mutiny on my hands' when he had to order some recalcitrant soldiers to join a patrol ... In a few cases, patrollers did not go so far as ordered or faked their reports ... Corporal C.B. went on patrol in June and returned alone, having become separated from the rest of his patrol. He reported that he had gone more than 9000 yards into Axis lines and gave valuable information about enemy armour. The story was actually a complete fabrication. (Armies of Empire: The 9th Australian and 50th British Divisions in Battle 1939–1945, Allan Converse, pp. 86-87, Cambridge University Press, 2011)

On 2 August, in the belief that the enemy was thinning out along the Salient, an attack was launched by a company of the 2/43rd Battalion along the perimeter from the north and a company of the 2/28th Battalion from the south ... The attack was carefully planned and supported by more than sixty guns but the enemy artillery swiftly replied, and his infantry were ready. The attack was gallantly pressed but failed with heavy losses. This was the last effort to straighten the line ... https://web.archive.org/web/20060920064 ... lamein.htm (Veterans Support and Advocacy Service Australia Inc.)

... in August, one Australian brigade was evacuated by sea, with the rest leaving in September and October, 1941. (The Big Book of Australian History, Peter Macinnis, p. 180, National Library of Australia, 2015)

From July, Blamey urged that the 9th Division be withdrawn from Tobruk, a request supported successively by the Menzies, Fadden and Curtin Governments. Auchinleck considered the relief would unnecessarily endanger naval ships and impede preparations for a desert offensive. The issue reached Cabinet level with Churchill supporting Auchinleck and Curtin supporting Blamey who was concerned the troops were becoming physically weak and run-down. https://web.archive.org/web/20060920064 ... lamein.htm (Veterans Support and Advocacy Service Australia Inc.)

The historians say General Auchinleck, on the eve of a major battle, refused Canberra's request to relieve the Australian 9th Division in Tobruk because they said the Australians' health was suffering "to the point where it was not longer capable of resisting attack." https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 6754&hl=en (Australians at Tobruk; General's Clash With Government, The Age, September 14, 1964)

carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 24 Aug 2015 23:22

Benghazi Derby. British/Australian/Indian Divisions Flee From Bersaglieri Spearheads

Gen Neame wrote a scathing letter on 30 March 1941 to Gen Morshead regading discipline and control within the 9th Div, citing incidents of drunkenness, theft, disobedience, stealing, shooting, pilfering supplies and rustling which had occurred on a large scale ever since the Australians arrived at Barce. Expressing his contempt for such soldiers who lacked discipline, sobriety and obedience to orders, Neame closed Benghazi and Barce to most of the troops and requested Morshead to do all in his power to enforce military law and expectation. Focusing on the Australian officers, he blamed them for the apparent lawlessness as they 'seldom do enforce discipline or orders and more often endeavour to condone or whitewash the offence'. He considered that they were incapable of commanding their men and concluded: 'Your Division will never be a useful instrument of war unless and until you can enforce discipline'. In fact Neame argued, such men who behaved in this manner were helping the enemy. (Tobruk's Easter Battle 1941: The Forgotten Fifteenth's Date with Rommel's Champion, John H. G. Mackenzie-Smith, p. 18, Boolarong Press, 2011)

These incidents include the murder of Italian women in Benghazi (the murder scene being photographed by Germans during the advance), photographs of a looted ossuary (reputedly by New Zealand troops), and general reports of destruction, rape, and some reports of murder. (Rommel's North Africa Campaign: September 1940-November 1942, Jack Greene, Alessandro Massignani, p. 133, Da Capo Press, 2007)

Rommel also harboured prejudice towards the Australians, considering them to be badly trained, inexperienced and a poorly armed rabble. (Tobruk's Easter Battle 1941: The Forgotten Fifteenth's Date with Rommel's Champion, John H. G. Mackenzie-Smith, p. 18, Boolarong Press, 2011)

On March 15, Rommel sent a force of Italians, south, across the desert, to occupy Murzuch. http://www.coconuttimes.com/articles/Re ... THE-RESCUE (ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE)

On 20 March responsibility for the forward area switched from 9th Australian to 2nd Armoured ... On 24 March Axis troops occupied El Agheila and, six days later, Wavell told Neame that, since no reinforcements could be provided for two months, he was to delay the enemy during that time. (British Armoured Divisions and their Commanders, 1939-1945, Richard Doherty, p. 43, Pen and Sword, 2013 )

On 31 March Rommel advanced from El Agheila, and the partially equipped elements of 2nd Armoured Division and 9th Australian Division, which had relieved the better equipped and very desert-worthy 7th Armoured Division and 6th Australian Division, were soon in full retreat, the former by the desert route to Mekili and the latter over the Jebel. (Wait for the Waggon, D J Sutton , p. 131, Pen and Sword, 1998)

On 24 March, Axis attacks forced the outposts of the British 2nd Armored Division in El Agheila to fall back to Mersa Brega. On 2 April, a German force pushed the British out of that town. Following this, several Axis divisions (the Ariete Armored, the 102nd Trento Motorized Division, the Italian 27th Brescia Division, and the German 5th Light Division) continued the advance ... Rommel sent "Group Schwerin," and a motorized group under Colonel Nicolini Santamaria, on a path towards Mechili. A group of motorized artillery and Bersaglieri under Lieutenant-Colonel Gino Fabris followed behind. Fifth Panzer Regiment and part of the Ariete Division traveled toward Mechili via Msus. Meanwhile, the 27th Brescia Division (under General Giacomo Lombardi) marched along the Coast Road to the port of Derna. (Regio Esercito: The Italian Royal Army in Mussolini's Wars, 1935-1943, Patrick Cloutier, p. 75, Lulu Press, 2013)

The Royal Air Force had sent the best squadrons in the Middle East to support the operations in Greece, leaving the bombers and fighters of the Regia Aeronautica a free hand to harass the retreating British mercilessly. (Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel, Daniel Allen Butler, p. 210, Casemate, 2015)

The Italian ARIETE Division moved into El Agheila and captured thirty trucks. (World War II Sea War, Volume 3: The Royal Navy is Bloodied in the Mediterranean, Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, p. 373)

The seeming ease with which the 5th Light had captured El Agheila encouraged Rommel to press deeper into Cyrenaica ... (Operation Barbarossa: The Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, Nigel Askey, p. 434, Lulu Press, 2013)

His forces captured El Agheila on March 25. The British and neutral press treated this step as a minor episode of desert warfare, but when General Rommel's force recaptured Benghazi on April 4, no further illusions were possible. (The New International Year Book, p. 736, 1942)

The Germans under Erwin Rommel attacked the British at Mersa Brega on 31 March, however, and the 9th Division, around Benghazi, was placed in grave danger. (Armies of Empire: The 9th Australian and 50th British Divisions in Battle 1939–1945, Allan Converse, p. ?, Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Having captured El Agheila with ease, on 2 April, Rommel split his force into three columns: two raced across Cyrenaica, while the third headed along the coast to Benghazi, which it captured, unopposed, on 4 April. (An Englishman at War: The Wartime Diaries of Stanley Christopherson DSO MC TD 1939-45, Stanley Christopherson, James Holland, p. 155, Random House, 2013)

On 4 April, freed from restraint, Rommel resumed his offensive plans by ordering Colonna Fabris, or Fabris Column – consisting of 3 Bersaglieri Battalion and some motorized artillery from Ariete, under Lieutenant Colonel Gino Fabris – to follow Group Schwerin. The rest of Ariete and 5 Panzer Regiment were sent towards Mechili along a track through Msus to the north, and 27 Brescia Infantry Division was sent along the coast road towards Derna. By evening Group Schwering had reached Ben Gasia ... (Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa, Ian Walker, p. ?, Crowood, 2012)

At 4.00 p.m. on 4 April it fought the first ground action of the 9th Division's war, when German mobile forces attacked it at Er Regima Pass. In a confusing action, several enemy armoured vehicles were knocked out by the Battalion and supporting British artillery. This support, and their resolution, enabled the Battalion's three lightly armed companies to hold off 3000 well-equipped men till dark when relieving transport arrived.. (That Magnificent 9th: An Illustrated History of the 9th Australian Division 1940-46, Mark Johnston, p. 17, Allen & Unwin, 2002)

... the immovable 2/13 was again attacked at Barce. The German force consisting of 16 tanks, armoured cars and 2000 infantry inflicted significant casualties on the Australians... (Tobruk's Easter Battle 1941: The Forgotten Fifteenth's Date with Rommel's Champion, John H. G. Mackenzie-Smith, p. 18, Boolarong Press, 2011)

Of the 88 POW of the 2/13th Infantry Battalion lost to the Germans, nearly all were taken at the battle of Er Regima, East of Benghazi in April, 1941. http://www.anzacpow.com/part_4__nominal ... th_brigade (The 20th Brigade)

He did not want to advance merely along the coastal road, he hoped also to attack the enemy from the desert and cut him off. 5 Panzer Regiment, 3 Reconnaissance Unit, 2 Machine-Gun Battalion and the tank unit of the ltalian Ariete Division attacked ... (North African campaign, 1940-1943, Werner Haupt, James K. W. Bingham, p.35, Macdonald & Co., 1969)

By 4 April Rommel's spearheads seized Benghazi and advanced to the northeastof Antelat, compelling the British 3rd Armoured to withdraw and, because of a lack of fuel, practically disintegrate in the process. (Battle Story: Tobruk 1941, Pier Battistelli, p. ?, The History Press, 2011)

Later in 1941, a lieutenant in the 2/48th Battalion recalled that 'when we were withdrawing from Benghazi, we were outflanked and never expected to see home again ... By a miracle and an error of Jerry we got out of it'. Had events taken a slightly different turn in the Benghazi Handicap, the 9th Division might have been strangled at birth ... had the 20th and 26th Brigades been destroyed the Division's story would have been very different. Indeed so would the history of the North African campaign. (That Magnificent 9th: An Illustrated History of the 9th Australian Division 1940-46, Mark Johnston, p. 17, Allen & Unwin, 2002)

In Cirenaica, le truppe italiane e germaniche sviluppando il successo conseguito nella zona di Agedabia, hanno raggiunto sin da ieri mattina Bengasi e spinto colonne motorizzate oltre detta città. http://www.alieuomini.it/pagine/dettagl ... _n,54.html (Bollettini di Guerra, N. 298 - N. 329, Aprile 1941)

... Agedabia and the port of Zuetina were recaptured, together with 800 prisoners ... http://www.coconuttimes.com/articles/Re ... THE-RESCUE (ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE)

... the Ariete Armoured Division and the Brescia Infantry Division captured Agedabia and the port of Zuetina; the British retreated to Benghazi and Mechili.
(Defence Journal, Volumes 4-5, p. 202)

Having abandoned the Mersa Brega position, the British were powerless to prevent Axis forces from advancing along the coast road and fanning out to the east by desert tracks. Their armoured division ... lost so many vehicles from mechanical breakdowns that it was soon reduced to impotence. The 9th Australian Division had to be hastily pulled back from its stand-by positions at Benghazi to Tobruk. (Hidden Weapons, Basil Collier, p. 138, Pen and Sword, 2006)

In the face of a determined advance by strong Italian and German forces, disposing numerous tanks, and in pursuance of the policy of waiting to choose our own battle ground, our light covering detachments have withdrawn to selected areas. In the course of this withdrawal we evacuated Benghazi after destroying all the captured military stores and equipment. Benghazi is indefensible from a military viewpoint, and has not been used by us as a port. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 4559&hl=en (BRITISH LEAVE BENGHAZI, The Age, 5 April 1941)

By 4 April the British were in full retreat and the German 3rd Reconnaissance Unit entered Benghazi during the day, to find masses of valuable British equipment and the port virtually intact. (The war in the Desert, Roger Parkinson, p. 42, Hart-Davis MacGibbon, 1976)

With gallows humor, some British Tommies later dubbed their hurried withdrawal "The Tobruk Derby" or "The Benghazi Handicap." More typical perhaps was the reaction of one soldier who described that week as seven of the most inglorious ... (WWII: Time-Life History of the Second World War, p. 218, Barnes & Noble Books, 1989)

Moreover, the division's first taste of combat was a demoralizing headlong retreat, the so-called 'Benghazi Handicap' back to Tobruk. (The Australian Army in World War II, Mark Johnston, p. 48, Osprey Publishing, 2007)

Rommel decided to make a bid for all of Cyrenaica in a single stroke, although the only support for his Germans was two weak Italian divisions. He ordered a double envelopment, sending the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion straight along the Via Balbia toward Benghazi, while directing the 5th Panzer Regiment and the Italian Ariete Armored Division (sixty tanks) across the chord of the Cyrenaican bulge to El Mechili, just south of the "Green Mountain" of Jebel el Akdar. If the panzers continued northward, they could block the British retreat along the coast. The effect was instantaneous; the British hurriedly evacuated Benghazi and fell back in confusion. (How Great Generals Win, Bevin Alexander, p. 248, W. W. Norton & Company, 2002 )

Deciding not to stand firm at Barce and knowing that Benghazi was to be abandoned, the Australians spent the next four days making their way via the clogged coast road, with two newly acquired carriers, first to Derna and then El Gazala. (Tobruk's Easter Battle 1941: The Forgotten Fifteenth's Date with Rommel's Champion, John H. G. Mackenzie-Smith, p. 17, Boolarong Press, 2011)

In Cirenaica, le forze corazzate e motorizzate italo - tedesche — su­perando forti resistenze nemiche — hanno occupato Barce e Tocra. L'avanzata continua. http://www.alieuomini.it/pagine/dettagl ... _n,54.html (Bollettini di Guerra, N. 298 - N. 329, Aprile 1941)

On April 6, Italian armor of the Ariete Division and the two Bersaglieri battalions began to reach Fort Mechili. The Bersaglieri were elite Italian soldiers. The defenders were British, Australian and Indian soldiers. Two days later, Maj. Gen. Michael D. Gambier-Parry, commander British 2nd Armored Division, surrendered Fort Mechili to Col. Ugo Montemurro, commander of one of the Bersaglieri battalions, together with another 3000 prisoners, and enough supplies and fuel to allow the Axis advance to continue. Also among those captured was Brigadier General Edward William Drummond Vaughan, commander of the Third Indian Motor Brigade. For this, General Rommel personally pinned the Iron Cross, Second Class, to the chest of the Italian Colonel. He was the first Italian to be awarded the Iron Cross. http://www.coconuttimes.com/articles/Re ... THE-RESCUE (ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE)

The ARIETE Division reached Tengeder. (World War II Sea War, Volume 3: The Royal Navy is Bloodied in the Mediterranean, Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, p. 373)

By 4.30 a.m. on 7th April the first Australian units were beginning to arrive at Tmimi, where the 26th Australian Infantry Brigade took up a defensive position. (The Mediterranean and Middle East: The Germans come to the help of their ally (1941), Ian Stanley Ord Playfair, p. 8 , H.M. Stationery Office, 1954)

Meanwhile, the Brescia Division recaptured Tmimi, on the coast, after its evacuation by the enemy. http://www.coconuttimes.com/articles/Re ... THE-RESCUE (ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE)

On April 7, Derna was retaken, together with 1000 prisoners. http://www.coconuttimes.com/articles/Re ... THE-RESCUE (ROMMEL TO THE RESCUE)

Amidst the confusion of this so-called 'Benghazi Handicap', part of the 2/15th Battalion, including its headquarters and Lieutenant-Colonel Marlan, were captured. (That Magnificent 9th: An Illustrated History of the 9th Australian Division 1940-46, Mark Johnston, p. 17, Allen & Unwin, 2002)

In that brief action near Martuba the 2/15 Bn suffered a significant loss CO Lt-Col Marlan, 2/IC Major Barton, five other officers, Padre Arkell and 150 NCOs and ORs were made POWs ... Of the 507 Australians captured during the ill-fated withdrawal from Benghazi, 163 came from the Battalion ... (Tobruk's Easter Battle 1941: The Forgotten Fifteenth's Date with Rommel's Champion, John H. G. Mackenzie-Smith,pp. 21-22, Boolarong Press, 2011)

On April 8, the Afrika Korps completed the destruction of the 2nd Armoured Division, Major General Michael D. Gambier-Parry, the commander of the 2nd Armoured, and Brigadier Vaughan, the commander of the Indian 3d Motor Brigade, were captured, along with 3,000 of their men. (Rommel's Desert Commanders: The Men who Served the Desert Fox, North Africa, 1941-1942, Samuel W. Mitcham, p. 18, Greenwood Publishing, 2007)

Advanced German elements took some Australian prisoners around Derna and at Mechili, where most of the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade and part of 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment were destroyed. (Armies of Empire: The 9th Australian and 50th British Divisions in Battle 1939–1945, Allan Converse, p. ?, Cambridge University Press, 2011)

They took El Mechili from Australian anti-tank troops only when the defenders had fired their last shot. (Stalag Australia: German Prisoners of War in Australia, Barbara Winter, p. 4, Angus & Robertson, 1986)

He made good progress with both columns and on 6th April General Gambier-Parry was summoned to surrender the position at Mechili which had been hastily occupied by the 3d Indian Motor Brigade and part of the 2nd Motor Brigade of the 2nd Armoured Division. The demand was made in the name of General Zaglio, commanding the Pavia Division ... (A Don at War, David Hunt, Sir David, KCMG OBE Hunt, p. ?, Routledge, 2014)

The victory must have been especially sweet for the men of the Ariete Division, partly as recompense for past humiliations at British hands, and partly because it was an all-Italian triumph; Generalmajor Streich, Oberstleutnan Dr. Olbrich and Panzer Regiment 5 arrived too late to take part in the action and Gambier-Parry actually surrendered to Colonna Montemurro. (Tobruk: The Great Siege, 1941–42, William F. Buckingham, p. ?, Random House, 2010)

On April 8, the same day Mechili fell, he received fresh reinforcements in the form of the 605th Antitank Battalion, the vanguard of the 15th Panzer Division. At their head rode Maj. Gen. Henrich von Prittwitz und Gaffron, a promising and energetic divisional commander. Rommel immediately placed him in charge of a pursuit force: a combat group made up of the 3d Reconnaissance, 8th Machine Gun, and 605th Antitank Battalions. Before the day was out they took 800 more prisoners along the Coastal Road and streamed forward again, in the direction of Tobruk ... (Triumphant Fox: Erwin Rommel and the Rise of the Afrika Korps, Samuel. W. Mitcham, p. ?, Stackpole Books, 2014)

On April 8, von Prittwitz cut off and captured one of the Australian rearguards (800 men), but he was unable to prevent Morshead from retiring into the fortress. (The Rise of the Wehrmacht: Vol. 1, Samuel. W. Mitcham, p. 433, ABC-CLIO, 2008)

carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 27 Aug 2015 12:08

Italian Stukas operating on the Greek front, April 1941

On 13 April, General Ugo Cavallero, the Italian commander-in-chief in Albania, launched an offensive on the Greek Epirus Army (Epirus Field Army Section or EFAS) culminating in what became to be known by Italians as the Battle of Ponte Perati. Cavallero smashed the EFAS, and the supporting RAF and Hellenic Air Force squadrons, as well as some Yugoslav divisions in the offensive. A war correspondent with the Bari Division would write: "the Greeks had lost the best part of fourteen divisions, sacrificed in a battle at Perati bridge." https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 8215&hl=en (Greeks Caught in Trap, Says Italy, The Milwaukee Sentinel, 23 April 1941 )

13 April dawned clear and windy. By early evening, the Bersaglieri spearheads of General Carlo Geloso's 11th Army were rapidly closing on Korce. By the time the sun set on day one, the Italian Army in Albania could report the capture of 1,000 enemy POWs and a dozen artillery guns captured in the area of Lake Ohrid. Elsewhere, General Alessandro Pirzio Birolo 9th Army encountered stiff resistance, road-blocks and mines, but Geloso's divisions were able to press on, capturing Bilishti on 15 April and Erseke on 17 April.

On 14 April, as the weather worsened and raining commenced, Cavallero warned Pirzio Biroli: "Successo dipende da vostra celerità." (Diario, 1940-1943, Ugo Cavallero, Giuseppe Bucciante, p. 15, Ciarrapico, 1948) Recognizing that the Greeks were attempting to escape to Greece under the cover of their hand-picked rearguards and bad weather, Cavallero drew up a plan for round-the-clock bombing raids to break their fleeing formations. (Regia Aeronautica: Balcania e Fronte Orientale, Angelo Emiliani, Giuseppe F. Ghergo, Achille Vigna, p. 136, Intergest, 1974) The key target was the the bridge over the river at Perati. He arranged for Italian Stukas —named Picchiatello in Italian service— to bomb and subject it to intensive cannon fire. The dive-bomber attacks started on 14 April and went according to plan in spite of intense anti-aircraft fire that cost one Picchiatello on 16 April. (Stormi d'Italia: Storia dell'Aviazione Militare Italiana, Giulio Lazzati, p. 141, Mursia, 1975)

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Like the attack on the Iraqi Republican Guard on the “Highway of Death” in 1991, much of the Greek mechanized hardware soon became smoldering hulks. Hundreds of vehicles were caught in the open and pummeled by Italian aircraft and artillery along the Përmeti-Perati mountain pass. The road soon came to be known among Italian Stuka pilots, as the "Autostrada della Morte".

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On 20 April, a communique issued by the Italian High Command announced that Italian fighters and bombers had destroyed hundreds of Greek trucks packed with troops and equipment. http://www.alieuomini.it/pagine/dettagl ... _n,54.html (Bollettini di Guerra, N. 298 - N. 329, Aprile 1941)

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Along the Adriatic coast, the Italian Stukas pounded other roads leading away from the battlefield. Stefani, the official Italian news agency took great pride in the slaughter saying, that the Greek Army was losing "four-fifths of its permanent forces and all the war material supplied by Britain." The news agency also reported that "the Greek route of retreat, on the road from Ioannina to Arta, 35 miles south, was littered with the wreckage of hundreds of motor vehicles." https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid= ... 6037&hl=en (Allies Fall Back to New Defense Lines, The Evening Independent, 21 April 1941)

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carlodinechi
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby carlodinechi » 03 Sep 2015 08:22

OPERATION CRUSADER: THROUGH ITALIAN EYES

“Always beating against the unbreakable barrier of the Bologna Division”


These are the words of an Italian war correspondent on 1 December 1941, when describing the fighting spirit of the Major-General Carlo Gotti’s Bologna Division, which had fought off repeated attacks from the 70th Infantry Division, the largely British garrison defending Tobruk. As part of ‘Operation Crusader’, the 70th Division was meant to have smashed through the 25th Bologna early on 21 November, but were unable to break the siege of Tobruk until 10 December. Unable to accept the fact that the Italians had taken and given as good as they got, the myth soon grew that it was actually the Germans rather than the Italians that had frustrated their breakouts attempts on 21, 23, 25 and 28 November. Some have gone so far as to say that the Bologna had been relieved by the German Afrika Division and that German soldiers dressed in Italian uniforms were captured in the Italian strong points. http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html

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By 20 November, the 7th Armoured Brigade had reached the Sidi Rezegh-Belhamed area, only to find that the only track down the escarpment overlooking the plain before Tobruk had been blocked by the 1st Battalion, 39th ‘Bologna’ Infantry Regiment with the 73rd anti-tank company.

In this action, 24 year-old Corporal Reginaldo Rossi of the 39th Bologna Infantry Regiment, won posthumously the Medaglia d’Argento al Valore Militare, Italy’s second-highest military decoration. His Silver Medal for Valour citation reads:

As an anti-tank gunner, he was an example to all for his discipline and the care and maintenance he took of the units weapons. In the bloody and arduous combat that took place against numerous armoured vehicles, he showed complete and total disregard to the danger present and with absolute calmness, he stuck to his gun that he refused to abandon, even when he found himself surrounded by the enemy.
http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html

The Australian Official History noted:

“A powerful artillery group, with a battalion of Italian infantry of the Bologna Division for protection, was established on the escarpment near Belhamed; throughout the 20th it harassed the British.”
(Australia in the war of 1939-1945, P. 446)

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"The 22nd Armoured Brigade, on the left, was the first to engage the enemy, meeting the Italian Ariete Division around Bir el Gubi, putting in a spirited attack - and promptly losing 40 tanks before the enemy's dug-in anti-tank guns." (Eighth Army: The Triumphant Desert Army that Held the Axis at Bay from North Africa to the Alps, 1939-1945, Robin Neillands, p. 75, Overlook Press, 2005)

"The first forty-eight hours of crusader had reduced the fighting strength of 22nd Armoured Brigade by 50 per cent. The defeat of 22nd Armoured Brigade was a resounding success for 'Ariete', one of the many good performances by the Italian Army to be either ignored or glossed over in British accounts of the Desert War." (Crusader: Eighth Army's Forgotten Victory, November 1941-January 1942, Richard Humble, p. 98, Leo Cooper, 1987)

"The 22nd Armoured Brigade, which had already lost more than thirty of the trouble-prone Crusaders to mechanical failure during the two-day advance, had seen a further fifty destroyed halving its original strength. Gott's attack had proved a disaster for those directly involved, but that was not all. It had also set in motion the wholesale dispersal of British armour." (Sealing Their Fate: The Twenty Two Days That Decided World War II, David Downing, p. ?, Da Capo Press, 2009)

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On 29 November 1941, the 132nd Ariete Division (and accompanying 3rd and 5th Bersaglieri Motorcycle Battalions under Majors Cantella and Gastaldi) overran the 21st New Zealand Battalion along with the New Zealand field hospital which included the prisoner of war cage. The Italians were reported to have captured some 200 hospital guards, along with 1,000 wounded and 700 medical staff. They also freed some 200 Germans being held captive in the enclosure on the grounds of the hospital. The 21st New Zealand Battalion suffered some 450 killed, wounded and captured in what turned out to be a very bleak day for the 5th New Zealand Division. http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html/4

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The New Zealand Official History admits the capture of 1,800 patients and medical staff members, but glosses over the incident, claiming they were captured by Germans:

“The cooks were preparing the evening meal in the grouped MDSs on 28 November [sic] when over the eastern ridge of the wadi appeared German tracked troop-carrying vehicles, from which sprang men in slate-grey uniforms and knee boots, armed with Tommy guns, rifles, and machine guns. ‘They’re Jerries!’ echoed many as the German infantrymen ran down into the wadi and, as if to show that they did not intend to be trifled with, fired a few bullets into the sand.”


Lieutenant-Colonel Howard Kippenberger, commanding 20th New Zealand Battalion, wounded and a prisoner in the hospital later conceded:

“About 5.30 p.m. damned Italian Motorized Division (Ariete) turned up. They passed with five tanks leading, twenty following, and a huge column of transport and guns, and rolled straight over our infantry on Point 175.”


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"Attention meanwhile had already turned to Bir el Gubi, near which XXX Corps had concentrated. It had been joined by 11th Indian Brigade from Messervy's Division which on both 4 and 5 December attempted to storm Bir el Gubi but was thwarted by a battalion of the Young Fascists, aided as usual by anti-tank guns." (The Early Battles of Eighth Army: Crusader to the Alamein Line, 1941-42, Adrian Stewart, p. 36)

"Between 28 November and 4 December, the Italians were in the thick of the fighting around Tobruk and Sidi Rezegh, and both German and Italian units fought well; but Rommel had squandered his advantage and it could not be regained. Indeed, had he not been lucky enough to get yet another brilliant performance from an Italian unit at Bir El Gobi between 4 and 7 December, Rommel would have had his flank turned and his armour trapped at Gabr Saleh. But the single battalion of Giovani Fascisti at Bir El Gobi held XI Indian Brigade, destroyed the better part of 100 tanks, and backed up a British army corps for four days, so badly damaging IV Armoured Brigade that it was withdrawn twenty miles to reorganize, forcing Richie to abandon his efforts to turn Rommel's flank to the south." (The American Experience in World War II, Walter L. Hixson, p. 299, Taylor & Francis, 2003)

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On the afternoon of 15 December, the Ariete with some 30 M13’s and with Bersaglieri motorcycle troops in close support, counterattacked along with the remaining 23 tanks of the 15th Panzer Division, and the attack was successful as the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) and other troops of the 5th Indian Brigade lost over 1,000 men killed, wounded or taken prisoners. http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html/6

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Last edited by carlodinechi on 04 Sep 2015 02:14, edited 22 times in total.

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Urmel
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Re: 101 Italian WW2 victories & counting

Postby Urmel » 03 Sep 2015 10:18

That's a lot of nonsense
The excellence of [German] forward repair and recovery organisation gives us a salutary lesson in this respect. 7 Armoured Division report, Sept. 1941

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle in the Desert 1941/42


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