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Panzer Soldaten! Italian Blackshirt Division of the Eastern Front 1941-1943 by Paolo Morisi

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by ColHessler, Jan 23, 2024.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    Length: 288 pages, including bibilography

    This is Paolo Morisi's latest English language work about Italian forces in WWII, this time about Mussolini's Blackshirts in Russia. He starts with the formation of the MVSN, Volunteer Militia for National Security. They are the inspiration for the SS, and are spread throughout Italy.

    He tells us of the formation of the armed units, mostly of WWI veterans as well as younger Fascists, into an armed force to work alongside the Italian Army. Their first formations are in Libya to help control the natives. They then are involved battle in Ethiopia and Spain, and the invasion of Albania. When Italy gets into the wider war, Blackshirt legions get into the invasions of France, and Greece, then Yugoslavia and North Africa.

    We finally get into the "battalion groups", (two battalions of infantry and one of artillery), especially the Tagliamento Group, which goes into Ukraine with the Italian forces in 1941. They earn their German allies respect during the "Christmas Battles", the Russian attack from 24 to 31 December, 1941 on the southern front. The Blackshirts grit and determination in defense caused the German parachute regiment on their flank to call them Panzer Soldaten.

    The next big struggle for them, and the Italian Army, was the 1942 offensive in Ukraine leading to Stalingrad. Their great agony came with the Soviet Operation "Smaller Saturn", in December of 1942, when the Soviets came down on them to help trap the German Sixth Army. The Blackshirts tried their best, but couldn't hold the Red tide back, and ended up walking out to break out and go home.

    Morisi then talks about the M Armored Division, the Blackshirt armored unit that was formed just as Italy surrendered.

    This work is good in telling us the struggles with Italy's inferior equipment, and their personal dealing with the locals, who they treated well in comparison to the Germans. On the bad side, the translation isn't perfect, like when they say "mercifully shelled" or "post humorous decoration." There is a list of medal recipients at the end as well. Some good black and white pictures help out showing us the men and uniforms.

    I give this work 3.5 stars out of five.
     
    OpanaPointer likes this.

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