Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

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Sid Guttridge
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Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Nov 2020 23:37

The Italians developed specialist assault units, known as "Arditi" in WWI.

Did Arditi still exist in WWII?

Cheers,

Sid.

diciassette2000
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Re: Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by diciassette2000 » 20 Nov 2020 12:38

During the Second World War there was only one official formation that was linked to the traditions of the 1st World War even if in fact not officially within many Large Infantry Units small Arditi units were set up, chosen from the most trained personnel and motivated already existing within the unit itself.
In May 1942 the 1st Special Arditi Battalion was set up on three companies, each specialized in a method of infiltration into enemy territory: the 101st Arditi Paratroopers Company, 102nd Arditi Swimmers Company (later from landing) and 103rd Truckers Company (later land).
With the circular no. 40900 of 20 July 1942 of the SMRE the Arditi Regiment was established, based in Santa Severa, near Rome and on 1 August the 1st Arditi Special Battalion joined as its first operational pawn. The training of the 2nd Battalion began on 11 August. On 15 September the unit finally takes the name of X Arditi Regiment.
In January 1943, while the 2nd Battalion was completing its training, the command of the 1st Battalion with the 101st and 102nd companies were sent to Cagliari, while a detachment made up of two patrols from each of the aforementioned companies was transferred to the Italian Aegean.
The 103rd Trucker Company was instead sent to North Africa and aggregated to the Saharan "Mannerini" group, a heterogeneous armored vehicle unit operating during the Tunisian campaign within the 1st Army, which it reached between 19 and 23 February. Here the truck driver company was employed in patrols and long-range forays into the desert as well as as normal motorized infantry, following the fate of the army until the dissolution after the end of the Italian resistance in Tunisia.
The III Battalion was constituted on March 1st; each battalion consisted of three companies (paratroopers, swimmers, truck drivers), each on 10 patrols of 10-20 arditi under the command of two officers (commander and deputy). In April the two detachments of the 102nd returned from Rhodes, while the other two detachments of the 103rd will return only in July. In May 1943 the command of the II Battalion and the 112th and 113th companies were transferred to Sicily, while the 123rd Company passed from the III Battalion to the I stationed in Sardinia. On 10 June the regiment took on a new organization chart, on the basis of which three special companies were created, an additional land company and a 4th Battalion, established on 10 July 1943. In the days following the dismissal of Mussolini on 25 July, the Ministry of Guerra forced the dissolution of the 136th Armored Division "Young Fascists". Many young veterans of the XI Battalion and the recruits of the VI Battalion chose to enlist in the 10th Arditi Regiment, where they went to form the 133rd Terrestrial Company of the III Battalion.
All the personnel of the regiment were enrolled on a voluntary basis among the soldiers already tested in combat and decorated at least with a war cross. The selection was very hard, with a high percentage of dropouts. The training was very complex, with particular emphasis on the one hand on the creation of the spirit of the body, on the other hand on a very accurate technical preparation. The headquarters of Santa Severa offered both the coastal scenario and that of the wooded hinterland; it was also close to the Tarquinia paratroopers training center and the Civitavecchia genius school.
All regimental personnel, regardless of their three specializations, were licensed to use explosives after their sapper course. The paratroopers patented themselves in Tarquinia, while the swimmers were sent to the bases of the Regia Marina in Livorno and then in Pola, where they became familiar with MAS, submarines and special vehicles and trained in the various landing and release techniques.
As for the daring of the Great War, the particular conditions of training and employment were compensated with a higher economic treatment privileged than ordinary forces. In fact, a particular daily check was foreseen, as well as the overcharge in the theater of operations and special prizes. These bonuses were reversible in the event of death or capture.
The standard armament for the daring was the Beretta MAB 38 machine gun or Mod. 38 TS carbine, Beretta M34 pistol, dagger, hand grenades and miner's backpack with various types of fuses, tools, detonators and T4 explosives. The department armament included the Breda Mod. 30 submachine gun, the Brixia Mod. 35 light mortar and the Mod. 40 and Mod. 41 assault flamethrowers.
All the best
Maurizio

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Nov 2020 18:51

Hi Maurizio,

That was one of the best answers I have ever received and I have been at this for over twenty years here on AHF and on Feldgrau!

Many thanks, indeed!

I was asking because I read that there was an improvised plan to land 900 Arditi by sea between Menton/e and Cap Martin on the night of 22/23 June 1940, but it was abandoned due to unfavourable weather. I guess these Arditi would have come from 5th Cosseria Division which was attacking Menton/e?

Do you know if the occupation of Monaco was part of this plan?

Many thanks,

Sid.

gttf
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Re: Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by gttf » 20 Nov 2020 19:06

Hello,
just to complete the Maurizio's post, there was another special unit explicitly carrying the qualification of "Arditi", i.e. the battaglione ADRA (Arditi Distruttori Regia Aeronautica) made by volunteers from Regia Aeronautica, trained as paratroopers. ADRA was established in the second half of 1942 and was mainly devoted to raids and sabotages against airplanes, airports, etc.
AFAIK, X Arditi and ADRA were employed from January, 1943 to June, 1943 against targets in North African theater (bridges, railways, airplanes) according to the following list:
- Algeria
-- X Arditi : seven teams airdropped + 1 landed by submarine, January - June, 1943
-- ADRA: four teams airdropped, June 1943

- Tunisia:
-- ADRA: one team airdropped, June 1943

-Libya:
-- X Arditi: one team airdropped, June 1943
--ADRA : three teams airdropped, June 1943

During Operation Husky (July 1943), five teams of X Arditi and at least two teams of ADRA were airdropped behind Allied lines for sabotages (ammunitions dumps, communication lines, etc.); another team of X Arditi was landed by a X Mas assault craft.

Within the framework of Reggimento San Marco (marines) similar units were formed, although without the explicit "arditi" qualification (at least in their official names, AFAIK): three missions are recorded:
- a team landed by MTBs in Egypt, september 1942
- two teams landed by a submarine, Libya, august 1943
- two teams landed by MTBs, Tunisia, september 1943.

There are several published sources concerning these special units (mostly in Italian language): to have a good overview in English language, I suggest the following:

Crociani, P., Battistelli, P.P. "Italian Army Elite units and special forces 1940-1943" Osprey, 2011
Crociani, P., Battistelli, P.P. "Italian Navy and Air Force Elite units and special forces 1940-1945" Osprey, 2013

Hope this helps

Fabrizio

diciassette2000
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Re: Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by diciassette2000 » 20 Nov 2020 19:09

I think you are referring to the operation (or rather the attempt never put into practice) foreseen by the Italian commands during the night between 22 and 23 June to land between Menton and Monte Carlo about 1000 men drawn from various units of the army with the collaboration of the Navy which had to supply some torpedo boats and a few hundred specialists to steer the boats which, among other things, were civil boats with engines collected at the best in the ports of the Riviera di Ponente. The conditions of the sea and the poor holding of the boats then forced the Italian commands to give up the planned undertaking. However I think that the troops to be employed were not to be counted among units of attackers or "Arditi" but were simple parts of the units operating in the area.
All the best
Maurizio

diciassette2000
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Location: Switzerland

Re: Did the Italian assault units known as "Arditi" still exist in WWII?

Post by diciassette2000 » 20 Nov 2020 19:21

Well ... in my opinion the conquest of Monte Carlo was not part of the Italian plan also verified the fact that the Principality of Monaco was already an entity equal to the Vatican State or San Marino and getting your hands on it was certainly not a It was a very wise idea since many fascist hierarchs of the time had their hands or part of their possessions in the area. The Italian action, however, moved within the so-called "Operation R (Riviera)", then conducted by the troops of the 15th Corps under the orders of General Gastone Gambara, with the declared aim of penetrating French territory along the coastal road towards Nice, Toulon and Marseille. To this end, two divisions were deployed in the Menton area, the Modena and the Cosseria, of which the first, deployed north of the Grammondo and Passo di Treitore, constituted the pivot of the Castillon sector and the slopes of Monte Ours, while the second, aligned south of Cima Longoira to the sea, should have advanced along the Granges-Saint-Paul-Roquebrune line, keeping at a distance of two or three kilometers from the coastal strip. At the first light of dawn on 22 June, General Gambara then gave the order to attack all the Italian units located in the Menton sector, and in particular those of the Modena and Cosseria divisions, which however encountered very strong resistance concentrated above all in the principals of the Scuvion, Pierre Pointue and Balmetta. A column of the Cosseria, which advanced along the coast, had to stop in front of the barrier of Ponte San Luigi, an obligatory transit point to enter Menton, at whose first houses some units of the 2nd battalion of the 90th regiment had managed to arrive infantry already around noon on the 22nd. On the morning of the same day, one of the most serious episodes of the battle of Menton took place, namely the destruction of the armed train no. 2 of the Italian Navy, blown up at the mouth of the Mortola tunnel by a salvo fired by the French battery of Cap Martin. At 10.45 pm, however, preparations began for the landing on the back of the French lines, which you mentioned, which however, due to the insufficient number of boats and problems related to starting the engines, was postponed by Admiral Giovanola to the day later and then deferred forever. In addition, a little later the armistice would have intervened which in any case would have put a halt to any form of declared Italian interest in those territories.
All the best
Maurizio

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