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.
Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 31 May 2007 20:56

A post by Christian W which added nothing to the discussion was removed by me.

Further one-liners which do not add anything to the discussion will be deleted on sight.

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eppanzer
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Post by eppanzer » 18 Jul 2007 04:21

Hello
What about Italy Infantry TOE? How did Italy Infantry Units (Regiment, Battalion, Company, Platoon, Squad) looks like? I mean the organization of the units could make them weak. How many MGs, mortars and other support weapons did have?

Jon G.
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Post by Jon G. » 18 Jul 2007 18:34

There are some rather good division-level TO&Es for the Italian army over on Niehorster's site. Italian divisions were noticeably smaller than other western combatants' divisions, which has been stated as an inherent weakness by Greene & Massignani and other authors.

Voice of Truth
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Post by Voice of Truth » 04 Aug 2007 22:54

I believe Italian soldiers fought quite well as part of allied co-belligerent forces from October 1943 onwards. Is that a correct assumption? if so, the better allied equipement they were supplied with would go some way to explain the better performance.

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 05 Aug 2007 18:51

IIRC Italian infantry was never fully whole scale equipped with British weapons either choosing to keep some gear such as MAB38 smg or not having enough on hand or ability to maintain their place on the line and re-equip units due to retrictions on numbers of men in active service. Uniform and gear started being switched out in 1944, iirc, with the introduction of the Combat Groups. Not really familiar on this time frame so someone will correct me soon.

The interesting question is was it even worth it to bother trying to get troops on the line as the Brits seemed determined not to show any mercy in the final settlement.

romano12
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Re: Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Post by romano12 » 15 Oct 2008 11:07

The Italians captured at least 30,000 British Commonwealth troops in the North Africa campaign. Several thousand Kiwis, Aussies, Americans and Indians, etc. The 7th Bersaglieri alone captured 6,000 Allied troops in the storming of Mersa Matruh in late June 1942. According to World War II In Europe by David T. Zabecki:

On the morning of 29 June, the garrison was overwhelmed. At 0930 hours, the Italian 7th Bersaglieri Regiment entered the conquered stronghold, taking 6,000 Allied prisoners. (see: http://books.google.ca/books?id=gYDN-Uf ... JWmwrjlNsQ)

At Kasserine Pass it was the Bersaglieri again, supporting the Centauro Tank Division, that took 3,000 American troops prisoners. Without the Centauro and the Bersaglieri at Kasserine, Rommel would've achieved not much with just his panzers. You need well trained infantry supporting the tanks, to be able to take prisoners, for a tank crew is in no position to do that. Tankers can only machinegun those wanting to surrender as was common practise in the Eastern Front.

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LWD
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Re: Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Post by LWD » 15 Oct 2008 13:30

My apologies in advance if this is a rehash as I haven't read this entire thread yet but ...

My impression is that the Italians didn't show up so well in WWII for the most part becasue in general from the private soldier up to the high command a significant number never really "bought into" the war. The cases where they did do well seam to point to charismatic leaders who had bought into it. This is far from a condemnation in my eyes.

Katan
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Re: Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Post by Katan » 05 Nov 2008 08:38

I agree. Italias at large did not feel the need for entry into another World War and especially not just to be Hitler's wingman!
Military leadership was weak because promotion was mostly based on seniority insteasd of merit and many leaders were promoted for loyalty instead of great talent.

The military lacked the amount of modern weapons that were needed for WW2 and desisions were highly regulated by Rome leaving little room for a reactive military.
Plus Italy was never able to concentrate on a single front for vary long.

Italy's loss in East Africa was fairly inevitable without supplies and being cut of from the mainland so that loss doesnt really deserve as much propaganda as it got. Italy did perform poorly in the war overall but there were many instances of intence bravory and excelent performance too. Also Ital's defeat wasn't as one sided as comonly believed. It could have turned out much more differently. For instance Italy sent planes with Germany for the Battle of Britian. While making little defference there their effect in Africa definetely would have been felt. Also Italy had a very good chance for victory shortly after taking somolia. Under Marshal Graziani Italy hasd the initiative in attaking Egypt. The enemy was outnumbered, low on suppplies and would not be getting rienforcements for a while becasue the supply ships had to travel the way of the Cape since Italy was a major threat in the Med at the time. Italy advanced over 60 miles and over-ran Sidi Barrani. However...the Marshal stopped his advance suddenly despite orders to continue and despite the operations success. Nothing could be done though since he was protected by the crown and he knew it. Eventually the forces in Egypt recieved their supplies but even then the forces were not organized enough to beat back the Italians if an offensive occured. The Marshal spent his time building fortresses not wanting to sacrifice his tanks. Had the marshal continued we would probaly be singing a different tune about the Italians.

arturolorioli
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Re: Was the italien soldiers more worse soldiers then others?

Post by arturolorioli » 07 Nov 2008 15:31

With all due respect and in the most friendly terms, I'm afraid Katan is quite far off the mark with several of his comments.
Katan wrote: Italias at large did not feel the need for entry into another World War and especially not just to be Hitler's wingman!
Italians were distinctly unhappy about entering the War ... exactly as everybody else was : look at the *very* gloomy reactions in UK or France on September 1939. WW1 memories were still very fresh in everybody mind, nobody was thrilled at the idea of a repetition.

About any unwillingness to act as "Hitler's wingman", quite simply this feeling did not existed at the moment of the Italian entry in WW2. Italy believed in a "parallel war", where our Armed Forces would have fought independently, the sad reality of the "subordinate war" after December 1940 was entirely far away in Italians' minds.
Military leadership was weak because promotion was mostly based on seniority insteasd of merit and many leaders were promoted for loyalty instead of great talent.
Seniority was the main element in promotions everywhere, as in each and every peacetime period. That said, contrary to common wisdom, Italian generals were by and large good professionals, certainly not much at ease with mechanized warfare (and who was, in 1940, except for a few German generals and some surviving Soviet colonel?), but with very sound logistical and artillery preparation.
desisions were highly regulated by Rome leaving little room for a reactive military.
Quite the contrary, actually. Both in Albania and North Africa local commanders had a very large degree of freedom not only in operational matter, but even in more "strategic" decisions.
Plus Italy was never able to concentrate on a single front for vary long.
Hardly so. The main front for the Italian for all the war was one and only one, namely North Africa. East Africa was given for lost from the beginning, and told to do as best as they could with what they did have. Greece was considered as nothing more than an easy and safe sideshow (until the Greeks gave us a sound reality check :wink: ), but it didn't caused any reduction in the availability of resources for North Africa. Russia was a smallish committment (3 divisions) until mid 1942, and it was upgraded only with units un-needed in North AFrica. So while it is correct to say that Italy was engaged in several areas, it's "concentration" was on a single front for the duration.
Italy sent planes with Germany for the Battle of Britian. While making little defference there their effect in Africa definetely would have been felt.
Quite not. The "Corpo Aereo Italiano" had two fighter Sqns (18th Sqn with 50 CR.42 and 20th Sqn with 48 G.50) and two bomber Wings (13th and 43rd, with a grand total of 75 Br.20). They were just a fraction of the available italian airpower, and formed by airplanes either deemed unsuitable for desert operations (like the G.50 and Br.20) of obsolescent (the CR.42). And the North Africa airfields and supply capabilities couldn't support any more air units then they already did, so the CAI expedition had no effects on the North Africa operations, either in qualitative or quantitative terms.
Also Italy had a very good chance for victory shortly after taking somolia.
That's a bit puzzling. What chance? How? British Somaliland was an enclave inside Italian East Africa, its occupation did not put the Italians one inch closer to Suez or Bassora or to wherever else could have had any significant strategic impact on the war.
Italy advanced over 60 miles and over-ran Sidi Barrani. However...the Marshal stopped his advance suddenly despite orders to continue and despite the operations success. Nothing could be done though since he was protected by the crown and he knew it.
Calling the *unopposed* occupation of Sidi Barrani an "operational sucess" is, how to say, stretching facts a bit. And once there, Suez was still over 500 kms away, to be crossed by a leg-moving army at the end of a 1400+ kms long supply line (to the only available real port, i.e. Tripoli) ... Graziani was well past his prime, but still enough of an experienced "Old African" soldier not to venture without any more logistical preparation in any further *hopeless* advance, that would have spelled absolute disaster for his troops.

About the notion that Graziani was protected by the Monarchists, nothing could be more far from truth. Graziani's worst enemies were ... the Monarchists generals (like Badoglio, but in more general terms the vast majority of the Italian generals), while he was considered a "fascist" one .

Everything, I repeat, in the most friendly and relaxed terms

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CogCalgary
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Re:

Post by CogCalgary » 29 Aug 2021 19:30

Kenshiro wrote:
20 Dec 2004 10:58
There was nothing of interest in Ethipia, just the desire of "glory" that's all.
In the first invasion after the defeat (general Barattieri) Italy halted all the operation in the african country. The main reason was not because of the defeat but Italy was at war with the Austrian empire, and the resources had to be used to more important operation.
After the war with Austria, Italy went to war against the Ottoman empire, because France occupied Tunisi, then Italy was afraid to be lock down in the mediterran sea...and the only option was to conquer some earth on the other side of the mediterran (more earth is always better than nothing). After the war with Turkey italy (1911 1912) Italy joined the allied in the first world war (1915-1918) Then everybody forgot about Ethiopia (abissinia) except some people on the Italian right wing, and of course Mussolini.


As to the two armies forming one. What kind of problems occurred? I'm sure that there were differences caused by regional differences, but, are you suggesting that the North and South had different training, strategies, goals, etc.?
Yes basically. The southern army was totally defensive....the two sicily kingdom never invaded another country (with one or two exception) but the northen army was always at war (almust) against the Austrian empire.
When Italy was unified, the main problem wasnt good soldiers or sailors (the southern navy was larger and in many ways more modern than the northen) but officers. Italy was divided for centuries in many small indipendent states with own governement and army.
And of course all those small armys didnt have the same standart.
The papal army (the pope army in Rome) was almust nonexsistent and the officers in that smal army was the equivalent of a underofficer.
Worser was the situation of the garibaldinian army, the Italian king promised Garibaldi to inglobate the red shirt (garibaldinian volunteers) in the regular army. But the problem was many of gribaldis officers wasnt even soldiers!!!!
Better was the situation of some northern regions where they could hire some volunters who served in the Austrian empire, and the central Italy's state (tuscania) who had a moder small army. The south insted was between the best, because a solid military infrastructure and lot of good military schools still to day in use (la Nunziatella) and many officers of the old Borbonian army became part of the newborn Italian army.
But there was still lot of differences, in procedures, burocraty, doctrines ,specialityes and so on. The post unification army, was a big mess...many of the soldiers and officers didnt even speak the same language....but around the year '19.10 all the problems was solved (almust) and in 19.12 italy succesfully defeated Turkey and took Libia and some of the island sourronding Turkey (the dodecannesian island and Rodi).
Italyan navy was the first who violated with a raid the dardanellian fortificated harbor causing lot of destruction. And dont forget italy was the first nation who used airplanes in war.

Italy then joined the first world war, and managed to defeat a large empire (even if Austria was already weak it was stronger than Italy) even with trouble..and a smal helping hand from our allies.
On the other hand Italy managed to help France with a ekspedition force and lot of workers to their industries, and another expedition force in Macedonia flanking our allied.
Italy did well (almust) in the first world war, but bad amministration and a to conservative view of the war doomed us to a monumental humiliating defeat in the WWII.
There were plenty of mineral resources in Ethiopia as well as a huge potential for hydro electric power.

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