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Italian Involvement on the Eastern Front


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#1 Maverik

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:01 PM

Hi Guys,

Can you help me? What was the Italian involvement on the Eastern Front, throughout the War. Where did they fight? what was their record like, I have read lots about the Romanians and the Germans poor opinion of them was this the same for any Italian Units that fought on the Eastern Front?

Thanks in advance
A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.
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The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
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#2 TheRedBaron

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:14 PM

Can you wait till you get round mine lata? I think I have some stuff...
"Watch that Fu*ker, he'll 'ave someones eye out!" King Harold at Hastings 1066.

#3 TheRedBaron

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:20 PM

Will have a look... Think I have an action report for a cavalry engagement somewhere... :confused:
"Watch that Fu*ker, he'll 'ave someones eye out!" King Harold at Hastings 1066.

#4 Maverik

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 02:30 PM

No Problem there is no panic I am just trying to check out what type of scenarios I could do on the Eastern front combining Italian and Germans V Russians, was I to get some Italian figures.
A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.
Patton

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
David Friedman

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Groucho Marx

#5 TheRedBaron

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:26 PM

Thought that would be it...

I am sure there will be plenty of actions to choose from, although, off the top of my head, I think it would be limited to the early period of Barbarossa, I seem to remember the Italians leaving the Eastern Front in 42 maybe... Not sure, but somebody will know. I will have a quick look on the net and see what I can find.

BTW... Just re-built my Nerbelwerfer... Gonna go spray it black! Ordered a few 20mm bits today, some Soviet A/T rifles, 6 US HMG teams and some 'German Iron Cross Candidates'!?! When they arrive I will have the 10 US HMGs I need to field 5 Infantry Battalions...
"Watch that Fu*ker, he'll 'ave someones eye out!" King Harold at Hastings 1066.

#6 Friedrich

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 04:59 PM

The Italians send an Expeditionary Corps to the USSR in 1941 as a sign of Mussolini to show his support to Hitler in his anti-communist crusade. They fought in Army Group 'South'. Don't have any more imformation at hand right now, but I'll provide it on Monday. smile.gif

Then, by Hitler's personal request these corps were increased to Army-size, due to the lack of infantry troops in the German order of battle after the horrible losses of the 1941 campaign. In 1942, even if 1 million men from the reserve had been drafted, the Wehrmacht had 600.000 men less than at the beggining of 'Barbarossa'. That's why Hitler had to rely on Allied formations to fill up the front. In early 1942 the II Hungarian Army and the IV and III Romanian Armies were created, both with good men and good officers but with bad equipment and bad tactics. Romanians and Hungarians were also traditional archi-enemies and they couldn't have been deployed to-gether. That's why the incoming Italian troops formed the VIII Italian Army.

By the summer 1942, when Army Group 'South' was split up before the Battle of Stalingrad, Army Group 'B' under colonel general Maximilian von Weichs covered the front from southern Kursk, i.e. Orel all the way down to the south of Stalingrad. Its formations were as follow, from north to south:

II German Army —colonel general Hans von Salmuth
II Hungarian Army —general Jány
VIII Italian Army —marshal Italo Gariboldi
III Romanian Army (since October 1942) —colonel general Dumitrescu
VI German Army —general Friedrich Paulus
IV Panzer Army —colonel general Hermann Hoth
IV Romanian Army —colonel general Constantinescu

On November 1942 'Operation Uranus' destroyed Romanian Armies III and Iv and surrounded the German VI and IV Panzer. Operation 'Little Saturn' that winter destroyed the armies II German, II Hungarian and VIII Italian, the latter suffering some 110.000 casualties —80.000 of them K.I.A.

The VIII Italian Army had a tremendously low morale, had no winter equipment and no AT guns. When the Red Army threw at them hundreds of T-34 monsters, planes, hundreds of guns and well-trained and well-equipped men, they had almost nothing to fight them with and many just fled the field and where rapidly surrounded and annihilated. The ill conditions of POWs and the Russian winter took the lives of tens of thousands of Italians that had no interest in communism or Russia.

In early 1943, due to the extremely high losses in the eastern front and the deteriorating situation in North Africa, Italy pulled back her troops from the USSR.

From summer 1942 all the way to winter 1942-1943, the Axis suffered some 600.000 casualties in the southern sector of the eastern front, having 3 German Armies and 4 Allied Armies annihilated.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#7 TA152

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 05:23 PM

Years ago I read a magizane article on the Italian air force that was sent to Russia. It confirms what the General said. I can remember them saying things like aircraft heaters were sent to Africa and refrigerators were sent to Russia as well as warm weather uniforms. They had alot of trouble getting mechinical things to operate in the severe cold and starting aircraft. I can't remember if they shot down any Russian aircraft or not. I belive the fighters were CR-42's. (open cockpit)
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#8 jpatterson

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 04:57 PM

Were there not some Italians in Stalingrad?

Later

#9 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 08:26 PM

The Italians had a couple of M 202 squadrons on the East front. I'll see about an OOB tonight for their East Front units. One I recall was the Savoia Cavalry Regiment. This unit participated in at least one 'old fashioned' sabre charge while they were there!

#10 TheRedBaron

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Posted 21 July 2004 - 08:28 PM

I have a wargame scenario of that charge...
"Watch that Fu*ker, he'll 'ave someones eye out!" King Harold at Hastings 1066.

#11 Maverik

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Posted 22 July 2004 - 01:38 PM

HI Fredrich,

Thanks for the info provided, did you get a chance to dig out the more details you mentioned in your original thread?
A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow.
Patton

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
David Friedman

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
Groucho Marx

#12 TheRedBaron

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 12:13 AM

I have stuff on the Savioa Cavalleria charge at Chebotarevsky on 24th August 1942...

Basically chopped up a Soviet regiment, killing or wounding over half... They charged with sabres and grenades...
"Watch that Fu*ker, he'll 'ave someones eye out!" King Harold at Hastings 1066.

#13 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 06:00 PM

The Italian ground committment in the East was approxmately as follows:

8th Army (Army General Italo Gariboldi)
9th and 30th Army artillery reggruppmento (ragg)
201st Motorized artillery regiment
2nd AT bn
15th Assault Eng bn
1st smoke bn
3rd Cavalry Division

II Corps (Corps General Giovanni Zanghieri)
3rd and 5th Infantry divisions
52nd Semi-motorized infantry division
2nd Corps Artillery ragg.

XXXV Corps (General Umberto Utili?)
9th and 156th Infantry divisions
2nd Semi-Motorized infantry division
5th Engineer ragg.
35th Corps artillery ragg.

Alpine Corps (Corps General Gabriele Nasci)
2nd, 3rd and, 4th Alpine divisions
11th Alpine Corps artillery ragg.
Monte Cervino ski bn

Each corps likely had the following attached:
1 AA regiment
1 Motorized machinegun regiment
1 or 2 tank battalions
1 or 2 Engineer ragg.
1 Corps Reconnissance Group.

#14 TA152

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Posted 23 July 2004 - 07:26 PM

I looked up this information in my Regia Aeronautica book. August 1941 Mussolini ordered an air element to the Southern sector of the Russian front that included two gruppi: one with MC.200 fighters and the other with Ca.311 reconnaissance-bombers
After the collapse of Stalingrad the Italian High Command withdrew the survivers back to Italy.
Anouther souce says they used Macchi MC. 202 Folgore of 386 squadriglia base in Voroshilograd Russia, 1942
The Ca 311 was based in Zaprozhe Russia in Nov 1941. They used yellow ochre over dark green camoflage. 128 squadriglia, 61 Gruppo O.A.
They got credit for shooting down 6 SB-2bis bombers and two Ploikarpov I-16 fighters. (MC.200 not the Ca 311)
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#15 Friedrich

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 04:02 PM

Alright. Got my source here. Sorry for the delay.

For 'Barbarossa' Mussolini sent to Army Group 'South' sector, the Corpo Spedizionario Italiano in Russia (Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia) of 60.000 men, formed by divisions 'Pasubio', 'Torino' —type 1938 divisions of 2 infantry and 1 artillery regiments— and 3rd Mobil 'Principe Amedeo Duca d'Aosta' —2 cavalry, 1 cycling Bersaglieri and 1 artillery regiments plus support units and an armoured group. Later on the 63rd Assault Legion 'Tagliamento' —formed by Black Shirts— joined the CSIR.

On July 1941 the Italian soldiers' morale was high and the CSIR seemed quite impressive, according to their German counterparts, but their command, motorisation and armoured forces were completely inadequate and they also had a tremedous lack of artillery and AT guns.

In March 1942 Mussolini sent the II Army Corps made of divisions 'Sforzesca', 'Ravenna' and 'Cosseria' and the élite Alpine Corps composed of infantry division 'Vicenza' and Alpine divisions 'Tridentina', 'Julia' and 'Cuneense' plus more Black Shirt units gathered in the groups '· Gennaio' and '23 Marzo'. The CSIR became the the XXXV Army Corps. This force of 227.000 men was comprised in the VIII Italian Army under field marshal Italo Gariboldi.

On August 1942 the VIII Italian Army took deffensive positions along the Don river, backed by some liaison German units. On November 11th, 'Operation Little Saturn' desintegrated almost immediately the II and XXXV Army Corps, leaving the Alpine Corps isolated. After more than 110.000 casualties, the remaining Italian forces re-grouped in the Ukraine and were sent home. "I don't want to see not even another one soldier of our Allies in the eastern front", Hitler declared after the débâcles of 1942-1943.
"War is less costly than servitude, the choice is always between Verdun and Dachau." - Jean Dutourd, French veteran of both world wars

"A mon fils: depuis que tes yeux sont fermes les miens n’ont cessé de pleurir." - Mère française, Verdun

#16 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 26 July 2004 - 09:02 PM

Just to keep the score card easier to follow, the players and their names and numbers:

3rd Cavalry: Amedeo Duca D'Aosta
2nd Infantry (semi-mot): Sforzesca
3rd Infantry: Ravenna
5th Infantry: Cosseria
9th Infantry: Pasubio
52nd Infantry (semi-mot): Torino
156th Infantry: Vicenza
2nd Alpine: Tridentia
3rd Alpine: Julia
4th Alpine: Cuneese

I deliberately left off the Black Shirt (CCNN) units as these generally proved of little value except as replacements which is how they generally ended up.

Well, that should make things a little easier.




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