jwsleser wrote: ↑
09 Feb 2020 04:21
Sheldrake wrote: ↑
09 Feb 2020 01:50
I am basing my comments on Richard Lamb's "War in Italy- a Brutal Story". He served in the Eighth army with the Italian Co-belligerent forces. On p187 He wrote.
'British Liaison Units were appointed to supervise staff work and training teams to give individual instruction. The problem was summed up in an Eighth Army report. "We are trying to train convert and raise to British standards Italian formations which of an army which has always been weak on officers and discipline."
Thank you for the cite. Sounds very British.
A guess I read a little bit of 'The White Man's Burden' in those lines. I don't doubt that the British fully intended their 'advisors' to fulfill that role. The word 'convert' is very telling. Things like operation order formats and map graphics certainly need to be synchronized and the Italian officers most certainly needed to adjust to those UK norms. The loser whom wishes to join the group must put up with whatever requirements are placed upon them.
I don't see the Liaison team changing/effecting weak officers and discipline. The number of men assigned would be unable to have any impact along those lines. If that was truly a problem, direct command/assumption of tasks would be required. That is certainly not the case with the Italian units.
What is most interesting is neither the 1º ragg. moto.
or the CIL
had such 'teams'. The CIL, under Polish command, didn't seem to have the 'problems' identified by Lamb. In fact Anders protested the withdrawal of the CIL from his command (Med & ME vol VI, part II, p. 150).
So I now understand your comment. I will do some more research, but I am reading a distinctly British bias. That being said, I will look for references that either support or refute Lamb's claims.
I only quoted part of Lamb's remarks. General Browning, the officer in charge of the liaison organisation commented in November 1944 that the raw material was very good and given British Officers and NCOs, over two years he would make the Italian army as good as any in Europe. His instinct and preference was for a Colonial solution. Lamb also mentioned the arrogance and rudeness of the second rate staff officers assigned to Italian Liaison teams. The training teams were young officers from infantry battalions that had taken heavy casualties and were good.
The 1º ragg. moto.
was deployed with mixed results at Monte Lungo - but did demonstrate that the Royalist army meant business. It was deployed in March 1944 on the Adriatic Front under Eight Army command. No idea what the US Liaison organisation was, but there would have been an LO team. At this time they were equipped with Italian and German kit unfamiliar to British or US officers.
How certain are you in the assertion that the 1st CIL not having advisers? IIRC that this was the Fruli Division, which came into the line in early Feb 1945. The Italian forces had no independent role, or command higher than division, Eighth Army insisted that all orders to the Italian Divisions from corps should be passed through the British Liaison Teams, in this case headed by Colonel Southerby. The Poles refused to speak to the British, as a protest at what they saw as the betrayal of Poland in the post war settlement, but that is not how it was supposed to work. This is the formation supported by 1 and 2 RHA after the disbandment of the 1st Armoured Division. I know about this as a (long post war) veteran of L and N Batteries.
These were formations organised by the Bagdolio government. There were other Italian units serving with the British Eighth army outside the Royalist Army. F Recce Squadron raised from Italian officers and men who for political reasons did not want to serve in the Royalist Army and the Maiella Brigade from Abruzzo partisans operated under Eighth Army command with British equipment. Both were regarded as tough and courageous fighters.
Back to the thread topic. There are two problems with the idea of forming a Free Italian Army in the absence of a co-belligerent agreement.
1. It would need a national Italian structure to recruit a sizable force from scratch, drawing on Italian Officers and NCOs. Without a substantial political anti facist movement outside Italy recruitment from Italian PW would be limited. Maybe there might be an "Italian Brigade" but not six divisions in 1945. ?
2. Providing the equipment for an Italian army would be at the expense of the build up for Op Overlord. In 1943 the US shipped the equipment for three divisions and supporting services to re-equip the French Expeditionary Corps, formed from existing French units. This was three divisions less in the UK.