Combat record of the Pavia Division

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carlodinechi
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Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by carlodinechi » 11 Nov 2016 12:36

17th Pavia Infantry Division

(http://world-war-2.wikia.com/wiki/17%C2 ... cite_ref-4 17ª Divisione Fanteria "Pavia"/World War II Wiki)

The 17th Pavia Infantry Division was a unit of the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army) during the Second World War. It was formed in October 1939 and sent to Libya in February 1941 for defensive operations during Operation Compass. The Pavia saw extensive action in North Africa until it was finally destroyed in the Second Battle of El Alamein. The division comprised the 27th and 28th Infantry Regiments, 26th Artillery Regiment and supporting units.

Benghazi Derby

The Pavia Division took part in General Erwin Rommel's first desert offensive (also known as the Benghazi Derby among the retreating Allied soldiers) in late March, early April 1941. Under Major-General Pietro Zaglio, the Pavia attacked via the Balbia coastal road from Agedabia, helping the Ariete Armoured Division and 8th Bersaglieri Regiment force the Australian, British and Indian divisions back to El Mechili and Tobruk. On 3 April, the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment with the help of attached scouts from the Sabratha Divsion, recaptured Benghazi and advanced to El Mechili, along with the advance elements from the German 5th Light Division. On 8 April, General Gambier-Parry surrendered to General Zaglio and the Pavia after a breakout attempt that was broken up by heavy fire from the Fabris and Montemurro Bersaglieri Battalions that had taken up ambush positions around the British fortress under the cover of the night of 7 April. Some 3,000 British, Indian and Australian soldiers were captured as a result.

With the arrival of the German Afrika Korps, the Pavia and Brescia Divisions help isolate and capture Bardia. The Italian divisions then take part in the Siege of Tobruk, taking up positions in the southern sector of the Axis siege lines.

In early May 1941, the Australians defending Tobruk counterattack in an attempt to recover several strong-points lost to the Italians, but the Trento, Pavia and Ariete defeat the attacks. ("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, Jefferson, NC, 1987.)

Operation Crusader

On 23 November, the British 70th Infantry Division with 60 supporting tanks overruns part of the defenses of the 25th Bologna Division, but the Pavia counterattacks, restoring the broken lines. (“After a sudden artillery concentration the garrison of Fortress Tobruk, supported by sixty tanks, made an attack on the direction of Bel Hamid at noon, intending at long last unite with the main offence group. The Italian siege front around the fortress tried to offer a defence in the confusion but was forced to relinquish numerous strong points in the encirclement front about Bir Bu Assaten to superior enemy forces. The Italian “Pavia” Division was committed for a counterattack and managed to seal off the enemy breakthrough.” Generalmajor Major Alfred Toppe (et al), German Experiences in Desert Warfare During World War II, in 2 volumes, Combat Studies Institute/Combined Arms Research Library, 1952)

On 4 December, the Pavia and Trento recapture the ‘Plonk and ‘Doc’ strong-points outside Tobruk. (http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html/5 Italians passed to counter-attack along the whole line)

On 5 December, the Pavia Division from positions at El Adem helped cover the Axis withdrawal, delaying the advance of the 1st Battalion from the Durham Light Infantry in chaotic night-fighting lasting over three hours. ("The operation proceeded without opposition until the 1/Durham Light Infantry had advanced some 5,000 yards. Here the Pavia Division had established a rearguard position which was tenaciously defended but overcome after midnight by an attack made in conjunction with tanks of the 32nd Army Tank Brigade." Australia in the War of 1939-1945, Volume 3, Barton Maughan, p. 509, Australian War Memorial, 1966)

On 14 December, the New Zealand 22 Battalion encountered stiff resistance from the Pavia Division that counterattacked twice, before withdrawing. The New Zealanders with the help of strong artillery fire capture 382 soldiers from the Pavia in the action, but lose 3 killed and 27 wounded in the process.("At 3 a.m. on 14 December the guns opened a 15-minute concentration and the Maoris closed in with bayonets fixed, meeting mortar, MG and anti-tank fire and using grenades freely to overcome it. In little more than an hour resistance ended and C and D Companies began to dig in just west of the foremost defences, while A Company extended the position on lower ground to the east-north-east. B Company, which had advanced farthest, struck trouble, however, from another enemy position on the escarpment to the west and was twice counter-attacked." The Relief of Tobruk, W. E. Murphy, p. 496, War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1961)

On 15 December, the Pavia, Brescia and Trento Divisions covering the German withdrawal from the Gazala Line, successfully resist the advance of the 2nd New Zealand Division and supporting Polish Brigade, allowing Italian and German armoured forces to join and deliver a strong counterattack that overruns the 1st Battalion, Royal East Kent Regiment (The Buffs). ("The Poles and New Zealanders made good initial progress, taking several hundred Italian prisoners; but the Italians rallied well, and by noon it was clear to General Alfred Godwin-Austen that his two brigades lacked the weight to achieve a breakthrough on the right flank. It was the same story in the centre, where the Italians of ‘Trieste’ continued to repulse 5th Indian Brigade’s attack on Point 208. By mid-afternoon the III Corps attack had been fought to a halt all along the line." Crusader: Eighth Army’s Forgotten Victory, November 1941-January 1942, Richard Humble, p. 187, Leo Cooper, 1987

Operation Venezia

On 16 June 1942, the Pavia takes part in the mopping-up operations following the Battle of Knightsbridge, with 6,000 demoralized British Imperial troops falling into Italian hands. ("The Italians finished mopping up the Gazala Line on June 16, capturing 6,000 prisoners, thousands of tons of supplies, and entire convoys of undamaged vehicles in the process" The Rise of the Wehrmacht: The German Armed Forces and World War, 2 Volumes, p.564, Samuel W. Mitcham, Praeger, 2008)

El Alamein

The division took part in the First Battle of El Alamein as part of the Italian 10th Corps. During the initial phase of the fighting the Pavia served as part of the rearguard for the Ariete Armoured Division where, according to US Army Colonel Conrad H. Lanza, the division repulsed the advance of the Maoris of the New Zealand 23rd Battalion with a night counterattack. Corporal Pasquale Franchi from the Pavia would posthumously win the Medaglia d'Argento al Valore Militare for his role in the counterattack.

On the night of 14/15 July 1942, the Pavia along with the Brescia Division put up a stubborn defence on Ruweisat Ridge, allowing German armoured and motorized infantry units to assemble and arrive in the morning to deliver a devastating counterattack, overrunning the attacking New Zealand infantry and supporting British armour. ("While the attacking brigades had been able to cut large gaps through the defences held y the Italian infantry, they had not been able to subdue all the resistance. Not surprisingly, most of the smaller outposts and defended localities had fallen easily but some of the larger posts had been bypassed during the night. The outposts which remained contained substantial number of anti-tank guns, machine guns and infantry. When daylight came, these posts were able to cover the area south of the ridge by fire and shot up any trucks foolhardy enough to drive forward." Pendulum Of War: Three Battles at El Alamein, Niall Barr, p. 131, Random House, 2010) ("On the right, Indian 5th Division (XXX Corps) attacked Point 64 on the centre of the feature, the New Zealand Division (XIII Corps) was on the left attacking Point 63 at the western end of the ridge and the 1st Armoured Division gave support along the line of the inter-corps boundary. The night attack was preceded by Albacore aircraft dropping flares and fighter-bombers strafing the enemy lines. At first both divisions made good progress as they fought their way through the Italian Brescia and Pavia Divisions who were holding the ridge. The advance slowed down when they met extensive minefields and there was some loss of cohesion when the New Zealanders were attacked by tanks from 8th Panzer Regiment of 15th Panzer Division and lost 350 prisoners." El Alamein 1942: The Turning of the Tide, Ken Ford, p. 42, Osprey Publishing, 2005)

Captain Amalio Stagni and Corporal Ugo Vaia from the Pavia would each posthumously win the Medaglia d'Argento al Valore Militare for their leadership during the night action on Ruweisat.

During the Second Battle of El Alamein, one battalion from the Pavia Division fought alongside the Folgore Parachute Division. At the end of the battle, the Pavia along with the other two divisions from the Italian 10th Corps were abandoned without transport as the remnants of the Afrika Korps retreated from Alamein to Fuka and Mersa Matruh on 4 November 1942. At Mersa Matruh, where several of the survivors of the Pavia had regrouped (including its commander), the remnants of the division were trapped and forced to surrender.

Image
image host (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/73 ... 030f3c.jpg "Infantry, Pavia Division, El Alamein, summer 1942")

Image
click image upload (http://www.mjstoy.com/images/81rXJbDS+H ... 281%29.jpg Italian Infantry Division MACHINEGUNNER "Davide" of 28th Regiment "PAVIA")

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Urmel
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Urmel » 15 Nov 2016 10:59

carlodinechi wrote:On 4 December, the Pavia and Trento recapture the ‘Plonk and ‘Doc’ strong-points outside Tobruk. (http://www.comandosupremo.com/bologna-division.html/5 Italians passed to counter-attack along the whole line)
DOC was only defended by a standing patrol. There is no confirmation in the 70 Div WD that PLONK was lost. The counterattack as a whole was a failure.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

sanvitotagliamento
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by sanvitotagliamento » 16 Jan 2017 04:52

Good accounts of the role of the Pavia Division during the final battle of El Alamein can be found in the following books:

Rommel's North Africa Campaign (Great Campaigns), Da Capo Press; First edition (May 21, 1994)

Folgore Parachute Division: North African Operations 1940-43, Helion and Company 2017

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Oasis
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Oasis » 25 Jan 2017 13:46

Quite a good summary, but with many inaccuracies. We could talk about them.
Best sources on Pavia are the books of Mario Berdondini and the Archivio Storico Militare in Rome.

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David W
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by David W » 26 Jan 2017 07:36

Let's talk. It's good to set the record straight.

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Urmel
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Urmel » 26 Jan 2017 10:29

Do you have the Berdondini book?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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David W
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by David W » 26 Jan 2017 21:54

No

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Urmel
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Urmel » 27 Jan 2017 09:57

Sorry, meant Oasis :)
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Oasis
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Oasis » 27 Jan 2017 22:16

Urmel, I found them in just a few public local libraries for consultation. The texts are:
Berdondini M., El Alamein, Ediz. Tradotta Libica, 1974
Berdondini M., Il battaglione di ferro (I/27° Pavia), Edizioni Tradotta Libica, 1965
Berdondini Mario, Da Tobruk ad Agedabia, vol. V, Ed. Tradotta libica, Bologna 1969
Berdondini Mario,Uomini e gesta del 28° Fanteria, vol. II, ed. Tradotta Libica, Bologna 1967

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Urmel
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Urmel » 28 Jan 2017 12:05

Thanks! None of those are available on Abebooks. I'll need to have a look when next in Italy through library long-distance loan.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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David W
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by David W » 28 Jan 2017 12:37

Nothing on Amazon either I'm afraid.

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Oasis
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Oasis » 21 Feb 2017 15:18

they were local publications, probably more for vets than for others... I wish I could take photoes of them when I have a lot of free time.

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Urmel
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Urmel » 21 Feb 2017 15:36

I'll happily come to visit you in April to do that> We're probably not that far away. :)
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Oasis
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by Oasis » 12 Mar 2017 18:29

Why not !!!

aussiericochet
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Re: Combat record of the Pavia Division

Post by aussiericochet » 31 Jan 2019 22:48

HI there, I was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction to obtain copies of unit diaries for the 27th Battalion, Pavia division that was based outside of Tobruk near the El Adem airfield in 1941. Or perhaps has an interest in this area themselves? Please contact me at elle.verlaque@gmail.com thank you.

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