Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
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McBeast
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Post by McBeast » 15 Dec 2004 12:11

What can we conclude?

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Kenshiro
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Post by Kenshiro » 15 Dec 2004 13:29

was the italian worse than other soldiers?

No! :)

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BoroXXX
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depends...

Post by BoroXXX » 15 Dec 2004 17:33

If we are judgeing from what O'Connor did to them in 1940, and from their actions in Balkans, then we must conclude that they were as bad as their weapons (very important element of morale!).

BUT, in Africa under Rommel's command it was something else. Rommel seized the oportunity and "glued" German and Italian units and "the German officers led not always letargic, and sometimes even brave Italians" (Kenneth Macksey).

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G. Trifkovic
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Post by G. Trifkovic » 15 Dec 2004 18:03

True,here is an example from Balkans: when during the "Unternehmen Weiss" partisans captured a german officer,he asked where did they get so many heavy weapons from.He was answered "from your allies ,Italians".German just waved his hand and said "Na ja,die lieben Italiener".

Cheers,

Gaius

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Post by RoW » 15 Dec 2004 20:18

I read "I pio non ritorano" by Eugenio Corti. It's half-diary half-memoirs of Italian officer from 35 AC of Armata Italiana in Russia (ufficiale capo pattuglia OC of 61st artillery battalion of 30th artillery brigade) which was completely defeated in December, 1942. It's very sad picture in this book - control is absolutely lost, weapon and ammunition are abandoned, German execution squads behind Italian positions etc... Style is very stressfull. Every third line he recalls Madonna, every second line he curses wild, extremely brutal, anti-Madonna bolsheviks or German heartless killer-robots. From this I made one conclusion - the main problem of Italian soldiers was not a poor equipment or bad training, but the lack of motivation...

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McBeast
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Post by McBeast » 15 Dec 2004 22:29

I think that you are right, but the lack of morale must come from a source. I wold determin that the sources could be as said before to

Not having a convincing purpose in the war
Lack of supply (ammo, food and so on)
Obsolete land warfare doctrines
Obsolete weapons

So mabye the soldiers dident preform as well as the germans, but it isent because of lack in bravery, physics or any human skills. So the rumor that the italien soldier is a lazy bastard that allways flees and so on, is absurd.

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Post by RoW » 15 Dec 2004 23:11

McBeast wrote:I think that you are right, but the lack of morale must come from a source. I wold determin that the sources could be as said before to

Not having a convincing purpose in the war
Lack of supply (ammo, food and so on)
Obsolete land warfare doctrines
Obsolete weapons

So mabye the soldiers dident preform as well as the germans, but it isent because of lack in bravery, physics or any human skills. So the rumor that the italien soldier is a lazy bastard that allways flees and so on, is absurd.
Hmm, I didn't tell what Italians were lazy bastards...

What about your arguments.

1. Not having a convincing purpose in the war

Even Germans had very unclear purposes in the war. Their strategy was like a pendulum, but it had not influence on the fighting efficiency of their forces.

2. Lack of supply (ammo, food and so on)

For example Finns had much more difficult strategic situation than Italy (little population, almost no industry, border with big enemy), but they found very original method against deficit of supply - to confiscate ammo, food, weapon (including heavy armaments) directly from the enemy.

3. Obsolete land warfare doctrines

Possibly it's right, but I know too little about the Italian land warfare doctrines.

4. Obsolete weapons

It's mistake. Italy was a developed industrial power. At the moment of entry into WW2 Italian weapon wasn't obsolete, at least some gaps could be compensated with skills.

I repeat - the main problem of Italian Army was the lack of motivation (not morale) - soldiers didn't know why they are fighting.

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 16 Dec 2004 09:33

The binary division was designed for ww1.5 in the Alpls. This allowed one portion of the division to fix the enemy whilst the second portion pressed home the advantage. For the fighting that actually happened it was of course not the best. I think it would be best to look at forces deployed by the Italians. The best were in the Army of the Po, afaik. Along with other units in Italy proper. Then you have forces in the AOI which were said to have put up at least a decent fight. To the point that the battle of Cheren was considered one of the most fierce fighting ever faced by some British soldiers.

Singapore is considered a disaster for the British with many ill trained troops, bad leadership, suprised at Japanese mobility, etc. Yet somehow this wasn't as bad since the British were able to recover and contribute to victory. *shrug*

So the British score a great victory at Tummar, Nibeiwa and the other forts. Yet these are the best troops available in Cirenaica. Once you get past this you are facing mostly secondline troops without much training or mobility, afaik. Brits are able to use a better trained and more mobile force across the desert to attack Italian forces piece meal until they reach the end of their logistics tail. Tobruch's fortifications where in about the same shape if not worse than when the South Africans lost it in 1942. Defensive emplacements were not finished, needed repaired, commo wire was easily damaged, etc. I'm not saying that the British didn't score a great victory. I'm trying to point out that everyone reads about a great number of men. Usually without the caveat that not all of these were Italian nor many meant to actually participate in combat against a European power until Mussolini made his gamble. This is my not so greatly researched viewpoint though.

Still afaik a Bersaglieri unit was able to put up a good fight at Derna before being ordered to withdraw. At least one unit of Vickers found charging artillery, even if manned by the lowly Italians, was not conductive to their health. The British paused when they run into an organized armored force at El Mechili. Afaik early British tanks weren't much more reliable maintenance wise than Italian tanks. Why do you think the M3 Stuart earned the name Honey? ;)

As far as Greece goes that is a complicated issue and shows more how thoughtless men in power can be when they think they can make a quick personal gain. A proper report of the situation was not given and then the army was not given enough time to prepare for such an adventure. The Greek preparations were better than most would have me believe. The Greeks, at least in my experience, would have you believe they single handedly defeated an army of 40.000.000 or so Italians. ;) I think this page gives some basics in a bit better light. http://members.aol.com/balkandave/greece40.htm
Even then the sacrifices made by men such as those of the Julia division to hold something together are forgotten. And there are so many more issues to consider as well.

Italian forces gave at least a decent showing in the AOI, Soviet Union, the battle to keep Libya resupplied and acting as part of a joint command with the Germans proved capable. Look at the two battles of Bir el Gobi, or other actions of Ariete. At El Alamein the British were finally able to use their artillery and material advantage in a most efficient manner and even then an initial attempt against the southern portion of the line against the Italians didn't go so well. Italians proved able at Mareth and other battles in Tunisia.

I would say Compass was the worst point for Italy of course. But after this it was more that British propaganda depended on Italians being belittled as much as possible than anything in truth. I'm not saying that the Italians did great but then again there are points where they did aquit themselves.

CSIR on a whole.
Black Sea
Retreat from the Don, given the forces arrayed against them it is a miracle anyone was able to fight their way out of this.
Several Decima MAS raids.
Second Sirte delaying vital resupply of supplies and convoy later being destroyed in port by LW.
Battle of Mid-August.
Overall supply of NA African forces through 1942.
Bir el Gobi, Ariete first time, GGFF second.
El Alamein
Mareth
Takrouna
Enfidaville

I will admit Italians were on the short end of the stick. However I am not sure how any other nationality would have done better in such conditions. Even then when units with high esprit de corps entered the line they usually left their enemy wondering where was this easy to defeat enemy they were told about. Just some mindless ramblings off the top of my head.

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BoroXXX
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Post by BoroXXX » 16 Dec 2004 15:47

rommel_gaj
...here is an example from Balkans: when during the "Unternehmen Weiss" partisans captured a german officer,he asked where did they get so many heavy weapons from.He was answered "from your allies ,Italians".German just waved his hand and said "Na ja,die lieben Italiener"...
During the mentioned op. (solely Italian-četnik part of op. "Weiss" was "Weiss II", attack on "Republic of Bihać" from the south) one of Italian divisions involved lost about 825 soldiers and 80 officers, while after the Partisans broke out towards Jablanica division Murge got decimated in the process.

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Kenshiro
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Post by Kenshiro » 16 Dec 2004 17:05

From this I made one conclusion - the main problem of Italian soldiers was not a poor equipment or bad training, but the lack of motivation...
I do not agree here, the reason wasnt the lack of motivation of the soldiers, but the incompetence of the comanding officers of all levels.
Whit'out mention the heavy lack of supplies. The morale of the soldiers went down because of the corrupt and incompetent officers...and I want to add the lack of comunication between the echelons. Sometimes the righ hand, didnt know what the left hand did.....
would say Compass was the worst point for Italy of course. But after this it was more that British propaganda depended on Italians being belittled as much as possible than anything in truth.
agree.....

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Kenshiro
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Post by Kenshiro » 16 Dec 2004 17:07

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... highlight=

Here is a indeep analysis of the italian army: a complete study of the training, the weaponry, the equipment, the comand and so on...

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 16 Dec 2004 17:20

Saying Italian officers of all levels were bad is a bit misleading imo. I'm pretty sure a more clear study would show some of the lower level officers to not have been as bad and probably some of the mid-level to corps officers having some idea of what to do but lacking proper training, communication gear, etc. for a fluid war. Seems that it always common to hear of the evil upper officer getting on the radio and yelling at a sub officer who dares to show dynamic thinking. Yet I cannot believe this is the case at every level.

That's just me though. It seems wrong to go in and say this is propaganda story and ever so wrong and then turn around and make a wholesale charge of another kind.

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Post by RoW » 16 Dec 2004 18:24

2Kenshiro:

Thanks for link. I still read this article, but it looks like Italian land warfare doctrines and Italian weapon were not so obsolete as wrote McBeast.

From one of your posts:

the main problem was not the weapons it selv (other army had fought with worser weapon) but organisation, preparation and plannig.

And these bad organisation, preparation, planing and incompetence of the comanding staff came from the lack of enthusiasm among officers of all ranks and also soldiers. Not among all, but among the majority. They had a view on service as on routine job. For peacefull time it's possible, but undesireble - during the war time it's a forerunner of defeat.

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McBeast
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Post by McBeast » 17 Dec 2004 10:20

4. Obsolete weapons

It's mistake. Italy was a developed industrial power. At the moment of entry into WW2 Italian weapon wasn't obsolete, at least some gaps could be compensated with skills.
I know that in the beginning the italien army was ok fitted with ok weapons, but i dont think that they followed the development in the same rate as the other great nations. (expect the semovente self propelled assaultgun, was a great succes) Later all thier tanks was equiped with much to small calibers to make a threat to the next generation amour. The same goes for the aircrafts. And small weapons.

A other ting is that i know that i said was the lack of supply and ammo, that is not generally for the whole Italien army, but was most common on the eastern front.
2. Lack of supply (ammo, food and so on)

For example Finns had much more difficult strategic situation than Italy (little population, almost no industry, border with big enemy), but they found very original method against deficit of supply - to confiscate ammo, food, weapon (including heavy armaments) directly from the enemy.
I do not agree, because mabye the finns did not have the advantage of the things you describe above, but they had an enourmos advantage of the harsh weather and dense forest, that enabels them to launch devastating ambushes. I would say that it is also important to see that the finnish army was up against the Russian Army and not like the Anglo-American forces. At that point the Russian forces was suffering under the great officer purge, and had some leading problems.

And i did not say that RoW said that the Italian soldiers was some lazy bastards :D

Kind Regards McBeast

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BoroXXX
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correction

Post by BoroXXX » 17 Dec 2004 15:25

The exact figure of lost officers in my previous post is 52.


Obsolete weapons
Italian fleet wasn't obsolete, but that made no difference, bcs what can you do with modern weapons if they are given to incompetent hands(?)!

Italian ground forces were other story.
Their rifles were worse than kar98 or LeeEnfield (and those were quite bad, if compared to M-1 or Russian semiautomatic rifles), their submachines were OK, but they were too complicated for effective mass-production, and their machine guns were BAAAAAAAAD! For example see Breda MG. Too complicated, too unreliable, badly fed. It was machine gun with only 20 rds per belt, and belts weren't the soft ones (like on MG34/42), but solid ones, therefore much more exposed to dirt and weather. More than that, complicated bolt-action often jammed, and so on...

Compared with German basic infantry unit (with an MG as a central weapon and all others as support for it-today a concept integrated in NATO infantry doctrine) Italians were unable to mount effective modern tactics bcs their weapons didn't allow it!

Italian tanks were, generally speaking, BAD, with an exception of Semovente assault gun, which was later produced by (and for) Germans.

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