Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
LColombo
Banned
Posts: 284
Joined: 02 Feb 2014 00:17
Location: Somewhere in Lombardy

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by LColombo » 13 Feb 2020 12:31

Sheldrake wrote:
12 Feb 2020 20:17
The Soviets organised German and Polish forces and were certainly short of manpower by 1945. They capture quite a few Italians in 1942-43. Did the Red Army deploy a Free Italian Corps?
No, and it wouldn't have been feasible, as the vast majority of the Italian POWs in Soviet hands were already dead before the armistice of Cassibile; I don't think more than 15,000 were still alive by late 1943. There were attempts at political indoctrination of prisoners in several camps, but this was aimed at 'exporting' Communist/pro-Soviet ideas upon their return to Italy, rather than having them enlist in a Soviet force. I don't think there was any such attempt.

The closest thing I can remember is a group of ca. 150 Italian ex-IMIs (in German captivity) who escaped in 1944 during the retreat in Belarus and volunteered to join the Soviet unit that had found them. The request was satisfied only after some time, and they were given second-line duties like guarding prisoners and depots in the rear, etc. But this was a local initiative.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Feb 2020 02:34

Sheldrake wrote:
12 Feb 2020 20:17
The allies were unwilling to use the measures that the Germans adopted to recruit Poles and Hiwis. In the the former case the choice was to join the master race or become a slave and lose your house and possessions to inbound Ost-Deutch. In the latter case the options were to fight for the Germans or starve as a PW.

Returning to the point I made in #26. Without a commitment to liberate Italy with err an Italian Campaign there was neither an incentive for Italians to join the allies in any numbers nor a task the Allies could set for a Free Italian Army.

What did the Soviets do? The Soviet Union recruited Italians on an ideological basis. Communists with a loyalty to Moscow were at the centre of many of the Italian and French partisan groups.

The Soviets organised German and Polish forces and were certainly short of manpower by 1945. They capture quite a few Italians in 1942-43. Did the Red Army deploy a Free Italian Corps?
How likely was it for the Poles and Czechs in the units the British sponsored were ever going to see their countries liberated from the west? An yet the Polish army in the west rose to what amounted to four combat divisions by VE Day, and they and the Czechs fought to the end of the war...

Some men just want to fight, even for an essentially hopeless cause. An "Italia Libera" government could have been set up, even without a commitment for invading the Italian Peninsula from the south; the quickest road to Rome, realistically, went by way of France and Germany. The Italian Fascist government fell apart in 1943, simply with the expectation of Allied forces on the Peninsula; an Italian government in exile to the anti-fascists to rally around, with the expectation they would lead the way into Italy once the Germans surrendered, would have been at least as reasonable an option as HUSKY-AVALANCHE-BAYTOWN leading to an entire Allied army group spending 22 months and two winters grinding away from Sicily to the Alps.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by daveshoup2MD » 14 Jun 2020 08:52

Sheldrake wrote:
12 Feb 2020 20:17
daveshoup2MD wrote:
12 Feb 2020 06:57
X Troop's personnel were from Allied countries? Okay.

There's a long history of European volunteers, including former POWs, joining up to fight an government "at home"; the extreme example would be the ROA, which numbered about 45,000 at the surrender, and the Germans had been able to raise more than 110 battalions of Hiwis in 1942-44, but given the realities of the Central and Eastern European borderlands - consider how many Russians and Germans in 1918 became Poles and Czechs in 1919, for example the Polish Gen. Rommel comes to mind, as does Adm. Unrug... loyalties shift; it's hardly an unknown occurrence.

So given that pool of 300,000+, even if only 10 percent step forward, that's more than the equivalent of the 24 infantry battalions the British needed in 1944 to keep the 50th and 59th infantry divisions and the 1st Armoured Division in the field.
The allies were unwilling to use the measures that the Germans adopted to recruit Poles and Hiwis. In the the former case the choice was to join the master race or become a slave and lose your house and possessions to inbound Ost-Deutch. In the latter case the options were to fight for the Germans or starve as a PW.

Returning to the point I made in #26. Without a commitment to liberate Italy with err an Italian Campaign there was neither an incentive for Italians to join the allies in any numbers nor a task the Allies could set for a Free Italian Army.

What did the Soviets do? The Soviet Union recruited Italians on an ideological basis. Communists with a loyalty to Moscow were at the centre of many of the Italian and French partisan groups.

The Soviets organised German and Polish forces and were certainly short of manpower by 1945. They capture quite a few Italians in 1942-43. Did the Red Army deploy a Free Italian Corps?
The defeat of Nazi Germany pretty much would have guaranteed the liberation of Italy from the Fascists...

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9526
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Jun 2020 09:26

Hi Guys,

There actually were Italian forces raised by the British in 1941-43 to fight the Axis.

No organised Yugoslav ground forces, very few officers and virtually no manpower had escaped the April 1941 campaign.

However, there were Slovene speakers in the Italian Army and several thousand (from memory about 4,000) were captured by the British in North Africa.

A high proportion were prepared to serve Yugoslavia and contingents of several hundred men were sent to both exile Yugoslav naval and air units.

However, most formed a new battalion of the Royal Yugoslav Army. (I believe it was later expanded into a regiment).

However, the ground units never saw front line service. They were later given the option of serving with Tito' s Partisans and most did so. This left too few to sustain a viable Royal Yugoslav Army unit in combat.

So, there were army, naval and air units formed largely from soldiers in the Italian Army for service against the Axis. They just weren't ethnic Italians and did not serve in an Italian armed force.

Cheers,

Sid.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by daveshoup2MD » 14 Jun 2020 21:04

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Jun 2020 09:26
Hi Guys,

There actually were Italian forces raised by the British in 1941-43 to fight the Axis.

No organised Yugoslav ground forces, very few officers and virtually no manpower had escaped the April 1941 campaign.

However, there were Slovene speakers in the Italian Army and several thousand (from memory about 4,000) were captured by the British in North Africa.

A high proportion were prepared to serve Yugoslavia and contingents of several hundred men were sent to both exile Yugoslav naval and air units.

However, most formed a new battalion of the Royal Yugoslav Army. (I believe it was later expanded into a regiment).

However, the ground units never saw front line service. They were later given the option of serving with Tito' s Partisans and most did so. This left too few to sustain a viable Royal Yugoslav Army unit in combat.

So, there were army, naval and air units formed largely from soldiers in the Italian Army for service against the Axis. They just weren't ethnic Italians and did not serve in an Italian armed force.

Cheers,

Sid.
Thanks... my presumption is one "interesting" possibility would have been for the Free/Fighting French to have "sponsored" an Italian-speaking FFL unit, presumably starting off as a battalion under Randolfo Pacciardi and increasing to a regiment/regimental combat team equivalent, perhaps as a "Italian Volunteer March Regiment" ... from what I can tell, Giuseppe Garibaldi II was in Italy and essentially under arrest from 1940 onwards, but his WW I Légion Garibaldienne (4eR.M.L.E./1erR.E) would certainly have been seen as a precedent.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9526
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Jun 2020 22:52

Hi Dave.. ....

Most of the "French" resistance on the Spanish border were Republican Spaniards, essentially Communists.

As the South of France had numerous Italian Communists forced out by Mussolini, it is possible that some of the French resistance near the Italian border were Italian Communists. (I know that one of them was from San Marino and returned there in 1941 to set up resistance.)

Cheers,

Sid.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by daveshoup2MD » 14 Jun 2020 23:20

Sid Guttridge wrote:
14 Jun 2020 22:52
Hi Dave.. ....

Most of the "French" resistance on the Spanish border were Republican Spaniards, essentially Communists.

As the South of France had numerous Italian Communists forced out by Mussolini, it is possible that some of the French resistance near the Italian border were Italian Communists. (I know that one of them was from San Marino and returned there in 1941 to set up resistance.)

Cheers,

Sid.
Thanks; yes, I've read some accounts of the FFI that raise the same points. Given Pacciardi's service in Spain in 1936-37, seems like he would have been an obvious choice to command such a unit.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9526
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Jun 2020 05:56

Double post.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 15 Jun 2020 06:01, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9526
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Jun 2020 06:00

Hi Dave.....

However, most Italian exiles prepared to fight, and especially those who had served in the Spanish Civil War, would have been Communists.

The Free French of de Gaulle and others were opposed to them. The Allies even restricted weaponry given to the Communist maquisards. In Ariege they had to pretend to be Anarchists in order to get air drops.

Cheers,

Sid.

daveshoup2MD
Member
Posts: 805
Joined: 01 Feb 2020 18:10
Location: Coral and brass

Re: Italian "Allied" forces absent the 1943 invasion and co-belligerent status

Post by daveshoup2MD » 15 Jun 2020 08:13

Sid Guttridge wrote:
15 Jun 2020 06:00
Hi Dave.....

However, most Italian exiles prepared to fight, and especially those who had served in the Spanish Civil War, would have been Communists.

The Free French of de Gaulle and others were opposed to them. The Allies even restricted weaponry given to the Communist maquisards. In Ariege they had to pretend to be Anarchists in order to get air drops.

Cheers,

Sid.
The careers of Henri Rol-Tanguy and Albert Ouzoulias would cast some doubt on that statement, I think...

Return to “Italy under Fascism 1922-1945”