• Attention All Comstar Customers, Due to unexpected interference by suspected Word of Blake operatives, the HPG systems update was *not* successful. No data was lost due to our careful and extensive backups; however, we will need to try again next weekend. Sincerely, Comstar Precentor Dune

Did any Italian formations fight well in WW2?

Lord Sovereign

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Reaction score
7,957
Location
England
I know Italy was essentially a meme country throughout the Second Great War, but there must have been some divisions led by competent generals that won a battle or two. I know the navy wasn't a total laughing stock, but the rest of Italy's armed forces just seemed like baby seals for the British and the Greeks to club to death. It's vaguely inexplicable as well because, as the First World War proved, the Italian soldier can endure unbearable hardships for his country. So what the hell happened here?

Edit: On second thought, this might be better over in the War forum. If so, Mods, feel free to shunt me over there.
 

ATP

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Reaction score
5,237
I know Italy was essentially a meme country throughout the Second Great War, but there must have been some divisions led by competent generals that won a battle or two. I know the navy wasn't a total laughing stock, but the rest of Italy's armed forces just seemed like baby seals for the British and the Greeks to club to death. It's vaguely inexplicable as well because, as the First World War proved, the Italian soldier can endure unbearable hardships for his country. So what the hell happened here?

Edit: On second thought, this might be better over in the War forum. If so, Mods, feel free to shunt me over there.
Their mountian dyvisions were real elites.When they retreat in 1942 in soviets/dumb germans send them on steppe,not into Caucassus/,they were encircled by soviets - and break in bayonet charge.
Calvary was good,too - in 1942 they charged and take trenches hold by soviet siberian troops.
Paratroopers was used as normal infrantry,but was good.Just like bersalieri /light infrantry/


armor and mechanized units were good,too.naval infrantry really fought on Sicilly when other surrender.

Most elite was artillery - in Africa italian infrantry surrender,but artillery crews was found near their gun,dead or injured.
Black shirts,on other hand...they supposed to be elites,but they surrender more quickly then average infrantry.
 

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling Accountant
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
24,851
Location
Slovenija
The Italian biggest problem was poor leadership and often poor equipment (their machine guns were shit), but their Alpini and Bersaglieri divisions usually fought well. Poor leadership will always filter down to lower ranks and the fact that the slimy cunt Badoglio was the Chief of General Staff for fifteen years tells enough about the officer corps.
 

BF110C4

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 24, 2019
Reaction score
360
Their naval commandoes from the Decima Flottiglia MAS were the unit which other elite frogmen and light boat units still measure against. The human torpedo attack against Alexandria sank two battleships and a tanker, in other daring operations the unit sunk or heavily damaged over thirty civilian and military ships.
 

sillygoose

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Reaction score
3,051
I saw one British comment about the San Marco naval infantry that said they were the best infantry he ever fought and they had to be killed to a man because they refused to surrender and were quite dangerous. Their paratroopers were quite good too.
 

PsihoKekec

Swashbuckling Accountant
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Reaction score
24,851
Location
Slovenija
Bersaglieri were basically poor man's dragoons, fast moving infantry for those who couldn't afford to mount them. Once bicycles became more affordable they were turned into bicycle infantry. They are mechanized infantry now and their running is part gimmick and part espirit de corps matter.
 

BF110C4

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 24, 2019
Reaction score
360
To be fair running to and from the battlefield is a skill that will never lose its importance in infantry combat and in many ways is far less situational than bayonet drills which many other elite formations still practice (while hoping the battle doesn't degenerate to the point they are needed).
 

ATP

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Reaction score
5,237
I just found old article about Italians in soviets - in 1941 they have 2 dyvisions - Torino and Pasubio,3 fast dyvision "Principle Amadeo duca d'aosta/bersalieri and 2 calvary regiments/,artillery,some planes,and 2 battalions of black schirts.
They fought well,especially during soviet counter-attack 24.12.41
Soviets used lots of infrantry,but with few tanks and their arty have little ammo.So,they captured few villages,murdered prisoners in one captured hospital,and that was all.After 5 days they widraw.

Italians lost 1347 KIA,MIA and injured,italians counted 2500 soviet bodies/must be more,soviet take few villages when italians could not count/,1300 prisoners,and unknown number of injured.At least 8.000 all,i bet more.

P.S source - Technika wojskowa Historia 2/2018,Włoski korpus ekspedycyjny w operacji Barbarossa.Unfortunatelly,author/Marek Sobski/ wrote that using italian sources,so i could not check that.
One of them - M.T Giusti,La campania di Russia 1941-43,2016.
Other - P.R Di Colloredo,Crice di Ghiaccia,SCIR ed ARMIR in Russia 1941-43,Zanica 2017.
 

sillygoose

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Reaction score
3,051
I just found old article about Italians in soviets - in 1941 they have 2 dyvisions - Torino and Pasubio,3 fast dyvision "Principle Amadeo duca d'aosta/bersalieri and 2 calvary regiments/,artillery,some planes,and 2 battalions of black schirts.
They fought well,especially during soviet counter-attack 24.12.41
Soviets used lots of infrantry,but with few tanks and their arty have little ammo.So,they captured few villages,murdered prisoners in one captured hospital,and that was all.After 5 days they widraw.

Italians lost 1347 KIA,MIA and injured,italians counted 2500 soviet bodies/must be more,soviet take few villages when italians could not count/,1300 prisoners,and unknown number of injured.At least 8.000 all,i bet more.

P.S source - Technika wojskowa Historia 2/2018,Włoski korpus ekspedycyjny w operacji Barbarossa.Unfortunatelly,author/Marek Sobski/ wrote that using italian sources,so i could not check that.
One of them - M.T Giusti,La campania di Russia 1941-43,2016.
Other - P.R Di Colloredo,Crice di Ghiaccia,SCIR ed ARMIR in Russia 1941-43,Zanica 2017.
Yes, a very famous incident and well documented.
This claims only 291 total casualties for the Italians:
This cost them only 291 casualties of their own: 87 killed, 190 wounded, and 14 missing.[8]
10,000 Soviet PoWs.
 

ATP

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2020
Reaction score
5,237
Yes,but it was beginning of war,when soviet units mass surrender or run.That changed,when germans showed their true face,but for first 3 weeks of war germans lost 22.000KIA ,when soviets lost million/all kind/ and 11.000 tanks.
If germans come as liberators,entire Europe would be theirs.
 

History Learner

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 25, 2020
Reaction score
3,664
The Italians fought hard and the modern perception of them lacking is mostly propaganda that stuck because it fit with Allied triumphalism while also giving the Germans an excuse to shift blame for their own failures. In North Africa, both the Germans and Anglo-Americans rated the Italians as good as the Germans on a man for man basis, and definitely matching their opponents, if lacking materially. In Russia, the Italian Army fought very hard too at the same time, with Soviet winter counter-attacks in 1942 literally requiring them to physically overrun the Italians with their tanks; survivors still broke out in several areas of the encirclement and took with them their battle colors. Even after the surrender, the RSI quickly gained a reputation as a premier tank killing force and the last major Axis offensive victory in the West was scored by RSI troops in December of 1944.
 

Aaron Fox

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 27, 2019
Reaction score
2,081
The Italians fought hard and the modern perception of them lacking is mostly propaganda that stuck because it fit with Allied triumphalism while also giving the Germans an excuse to shift blame for their own failures. In North Africa, both the Germans and Anglo-Americans rated the Italians as good as the Germans on a man for man basis, and definitely matching their opponents, if lacking materially. In Russia, the Italian Army fought very hard too at the same time, with Soviet winter counter-attacks in 1942 literally requiring them to physically overrun the Italians with their tanks; survivors still broke out in several areas of the encirclement and took with them their battle colors. Even after the surrender, the RSI quickly gained a reputation as a premier tank killing force and the last major Axis offensive victory in the West was scored by RSI troops in December of 1944.
No, the best description is that while the rank and file of the Italians didn't suck, the officers made them suck as a general rule. If that makes sense. Rommel sang praises for the Italian soldier during his time with them, and the less said about the officer corps, the better.
 
Top Bottom