Italy in the Second World War

Italy in the Second World War

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The independent state of Italy emerged from a long nationalist struggle for unification that started with the revolution of 1848. The southern kingdoms of Sardinia and Sicily joined in 1866 and by 1914 only the Vatican and San Marino retained independence within Italy. However, a large Italian population remained within Austria-Hungary in the Trentino and Trieste regions.

By 1911 Italy had a population of 34.7 million. Although primarily an agricultural economy, there was considerable industry in the northern areas of the country. To feed its growing population, Italy needed to import some foods, notably grain from Russia and Germany.

Italy was a constitutional monarchy. Victor Emmanuel III had been king since 1900. People were appointed to the upper house of the National Assembly but the lower house was elected by universal adult male suffrage. The prime minister was Giovanni Giolitti but after the 1913 elections when socialists and radicals did well, he had a greatly reduced majority in the National Assembly.

Italy had been members of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary since 1882. However, this alliance was unpopular with large numbers of Italians and there was some doubt about Italy's military involvement in event of a war with members of the Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia).

The Italian Government introduced military conscription in 1907. However, only about 25 per cent of those eligible for conscription received training and by 1912 there were only 300,000 men in the Italian Army.

Over 5.2 million men served in the Italian Army during the First World War. Italy's total wartime casualties was 420,000 killed and almost 955,000 wounded.

After the war Benito Mussolini attacked Vittorio Orlando for failing to achieve Italy's objectives at the Versailles Peace Treaty and helped to organize the various right-wing groups in Italy into the Fascist Party. The next prime minister, Francesco Nitti, also came under attack and he was forced to resign in 1920.

After a series of riots in 1922 King Victor Emmanuel III appointed Benito Mussolini in an attempt to prevent a communist revolution in Italy. Mussolini headed a coalition of fascists and nationalists and parliamentary government continued until the murder of the socialist leader, Giacomo Matteotti in 1924. Left-wing parties were suppressed and in 1929 Italy became a one-party state. Mussolini carried out an extensive public-works programme and the fall in unemployment made him a popular figure in Italy.

Italy controlled Eritrea and Somalia in Africa but had failed several times to colonize neighbouring Ethiopia. When Benito Mussolini came to power he was determined to show the strength of his regime by occupying the country. In October 1935 Mussolini sent in General Pietro Badoglio and the Italian Army into Ethiopia.

The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and in November imposed sanctions. This included an attempt to ban countries from selling arms, rubber and some metals to Italy. Some political leaders in France and Britain opposed sanctions arguing that it might persuade Mussolini to form an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Over 400,000 Italian troops fought in Ethiopia. The poorly armed Ethiopians were no match for Italy's modern tanks and aeroplanes. The Italians even used mustard gas on the home forces and were able to capture Addis Ababa, the capital of the country, in May 1936, forcing Emperor Haile Selassie to flee to England.

Adolf Hitler had been inspired by Mussolini's achievements and once he gained power in Germany he sought a close relationship with Italy. In October 1936 the two men signed a non-military alliance.

In 1939 Italy invaded Albania and soon afterwards Benito Mussolini signed a full defensive alliance with Nazi Germany (the Pact of Steel). However, Mussolini did not declare war on Britain and France until 10th June 1940.

Mussolini already had over a million men in the Italian Army based in Libya. In neighbouring Egypt the British Army had only 36,000 men guarding the Suez Canal and the Arabian oilfields. On 13th September, 1940, Marshall Rodolfo Graziani and five Italian divisions began a rapid advance into Egypt but halted in front of the main British defences at Mersa Matruh.

In October 1940, Benito Mussolini declared war on Greece. Attempts by the Italian Army to invade Greece ended in failure. The war was also going badly in North Africa. Although outnumbered, General Archibald Wavell ordered a British counter-offensive on 9th December, 1940. The Italians suffered heavy casualties and were pushed back more than 800km (500 miles). British troops moved along the coast and on 22nd January, 1941, they captured the port of Tobruk in Libya from the Italians.

By the end of 1941 Italy was totally dependent on Nazi Germany. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Galaezzo Ciano, became increasingly dissatisfied with the way Mussolini was running the country. After a series of heated arguments with Mussolini, Ciano resigned in February, 1943.

At the Casablanca Conference Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt discussed ways of taking Italy out of the war. It was eventually decided to launch an invasion of Sicily, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, south-west of Italy. It was hoped that if the island was taken Benito Mussolini would be ousted from power. It was also argued that a successful invasion would force Adolf Hitler to send troops from the Eastern Front and help to relieve pressure on the Red Army in the Soviet Union.

The operation was placed under the supreme command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. General Harold Alexander was commander of ground operations and his 15th Army Group included General George Patton (US 7th Army) and General Bernard Montgomery (8th Army). Admiral Andrew Cunningham was in charge of naval operations and Air Marshal Arthur Tedder was air commander.

On 10th July 1943, the 8th Army landed at five points on the south-eastern tip of the island and the US 7th Army at three beaches to the west of the British forces. The Allied troops met little opposition and Patton and his troops quickly took Gela, Licata and Vittoria. The British landings were also unopposed and Syracuse was taken on the the same day. This was followed by Palazzolo (11th July), Augusta (13th July) and Vizzini (14th July), whereas the US troops took the Biscani airfield and Niscemi (14th July).

General George Patton now moved to the west of the island and General Omar Bradley headed north and the German Army was forced to retreat to behind the Simeto River. Patton took Palermo on 22nd July cutting off 50,000 Italian troops in the west of the island. Patton now turned east along the northern coast of the island towards the port of Messina.

Meanwhile General Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army were being held up by German forces under Field Marshal Albrecht Kesselring. The Allies carried out several amphibious assaults attempted to cut off the Germans but they were unable to stop the evacuation across the Messina Straits to the Italian mainland. This included 40,000 German and 60,000 Italian troops, as well as 10,000 German vehicles and 47 tanks.

The loss of Sicily created serious problems for Benito Mussolini. It was now clear that the Allies would use the island as a base for invading Italy. A meeting of the Fascist Grand Council was held on 24th July and Galaezzo Ciano got support for his idea that Italy should sign a separate peace with the Allies. The following day Victor Emmanuel III told Mussolini he was dismissed from office. His successor, Pietro Badoglio, declared martial law and placed Mussolini under arrest.

On 3rd September, 1943, General Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army landed at Reggio. There was little resistance and later that day British warships landed the 1st Parachute Division at Taranto. Six days later the US 6th Corps arrived at Salerno. These troops faced a heavy bombardment from German troops and the beachhead was not secured until 20th September.

While the Allies were arriving in Italy, Adolf Hitler sent Otto Skorzeny and group of airbourne commandos to rescue Mussolini, who was being held in the Abruzzi Apennines. Mussolini was soon freed and Skorzeny flew him to safety. After a short spell in Germany Mussolini was sent to Gargagno in German-occupied northern Italy where he established the fascist Salo Republic.

On 23rd September 1943, Pietro Badoglio and General Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Italian surrender aboard Nelson off Malta. The German Army continued to fight ferociously in southern Italy and the Allied armies made only slow progress as the moved north towards Rome. The 5th Army took Naples on 1st October and later that day the 8th Army captured the Foggia airfields.

In danger of being captured by the German forces, Badoglio and the Italian royal family were forced to escape to Pescara where a government was set up under the protection of the Allies. On 13th October the Italian government declared war on Germany.

General Albrecht Kesselring now withdrew his forces to what became known as the Gustav Line on the Italian peninsula south of Rome. Organized along the Garigliano and Rapido rivers it included Monte Cassino, a hilltop site of a sixth-century Benedictine monastery. Defended by 15 German divisions the line was fortified with gun pits, concrete bunkers, turreted machine-gun emplacements, barbed-wire and minefields. In December 1943, the Allied suffered heavy loses while trying to capture the monastery.

In January 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and General Harold Alexander, Supreme Allied Commander in Italy, ordered a new Cassino offensive combined with an amphibious operation at Anzio, a small port on the west coast of Italy. The main objective of the operation was to cut the communication lines of the German 10th Army and force a withdrawal from the Gustav Line.

Attacks on Monte Cassino on 17th January resulted in the Germans reserves moving to the Gustav Line and on 22nd January troops led by General John Lucas landed at Anzio. Lucas decided not to push straight away to the Alban Hills. This enabled General Heinrich Vietinghoff to order the 14th Army to return to the area and contain the 6th Corps on the Anzio bridgehead.

On 12th February the exhausted US Army at Cassino were replaced by the New Zealand Corps. Alexander now decided to use these fresh troops in another attempt to capture Cassino. General Bernard Freyberg, who was in charge of the infantry attack, asked for the monastery be bombed. Despite claims by troops on the front-line that no fire had come from the monastery, General Harold Alexander agreed and it was destroyed by the United States Air Force on 15th February, 1944.

Once the monastery had been bombed, the German Army moved into the ruins. As Basil Liddell Hart pointed out later in his book The Other Side of the Hill the bombing "turned out entirely to the tactical benefit of the Germans. For after that they felt free to occupy the ruins, and the rubble provided mud better defensive cover than the Monastery would have been before its destruction. As anyone with experience of street-fighting knows, it is only when buildings are demolished that they are converted from mousetraps into bastions of defence."

On 18th May, 1944, Allied troops led by General Wladyslaw Anders (Polish Corps) and General Alphonse Juin (French Corps) captured Monte Cassino. This opened a corridor for Allied troops and they reached Anzio on 24th May. The German defence now began to disintegrate and General Harold Alexander ordered General Mark Clark to trap and destroy the retreating 10th Army. Clark ignored this order and instead headed for Rome and liberated the city on the 4th June.

After the capture of Rome Pietro Badoglio resigned and Invanoe Bonomi formed a new government. In an attempt to unite the country against Benito Mussolini, Bonomi's government included long-time campaigners against fascism such as Carlo Sforza , Benedetto Croce and Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the Italian Communist Party.

The Allied armies now pursued the German 10th Army and took Grosseto (16th June), Assisi (18th June), Perugia (20th June), Florence (12th August), Rimini (21st September), Lorenzo (11th October) until being held on the Gothic Line in the northern Apennines. The arrival of winter weather meant that a renewed offensive did not begin until 9th April, 1945.

On 23rd April the 8th Army began to cross the River Po at Mantua. German resistance now began to collapse and Parma and Verona were taken and partisan uprisings began in Milan and Genoa.

With Allied troops approaching, Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, attempted to escape to Switzerland. They were captured at Lake Como by Italian partisans on 27th April, 1945. The following day they were shot and their bodies displayed in public in Milan.

German resistance came to an end on 29th April and General Karl Wolff , who had unofficially been negotiating with the Allies for some time, signed a treaty of unconditional surrender at Caserta on 29th May. Two days later General Heinrich Vietinghoff, commander of all German troops in Italy, agreed to the terms signed by Wolff at Caserta.

In the creation of a new State which is authoritarian but not absolutist, hierarchical and organic - namely, open to the people in all its classes, categories and interests - lies the great revolutionary originality of Fascism, and a teaching perhaps for the whole modern world oscillating between the authority of the State and that of the individual, between the State and the anti-State. Like all other revolutions, the Fascist revolution has had a dramatic development but this in itself would not suffice to distinguish it. The reign of terror is not a revolution: it is only a necessary instrument in a determined phase of the revolution.

The ignoble phenomenon of a dictatorship is a shameful blot on European civilization. Reactionary minds, which are indignant at red dictatorships, have only sympathy with 'white' dictatorships, which are equally, if not more bloodthirsty, no less brutal and unjustified by any ideal, even a false one.

The Fascist government abolished in Italy every safeguard of the individual and every liberty. No free man can live in Italy, and an immoral law prevents Italians from going to a foreign country on pain of punishment. Italy is a prison where life has become intolerable. Everything is artificial - artificial finance - artificial exchange - artificial public economy - artificial order - artificial calm.

Without a free parliament, a free press, a free opinion and a true democracy, there will never be peace.

I am bored by this Italian-Abyssinian dispute, and really I fail to see why we should interfere. Though, of course, the League of Nations will stand or fall by it. But I am a little uneasy that the destinies of countless of millions should be in the exquisite hands of Anthony Eden, for whom I have affection, even admiration - but not blind respect. Why should England fight Italy over Abyssinia, when most of our far flung Empire has been won by conquest?

If Germany attacks Poland and the conflict is localised, Italy will give Germany every form of political and economic aid which may be required.

If Germany attacks Poland and the allies of the latter counter-attack Germany, I must emphasize to you that I cannot assume the initiative of warlike operations, given the actual conditions of Italian military preparations which have been repeatedly and in timely fashion pointed out to you.

Fighters of the land, the sea and the air, Blackshirts of the revolutions and of the legions, men and women of Italy, of the Empire, and of the kingdom of Albania.

Listen - the hour marked out by destiny is sounding in the sky of our country. This is the hour of irrevocable decision. The declaration of war has already been handed to the Ambassadors of Britain and France.

We are going to war against the plutocratic and reactionary democracies of the West, who have hindered the advance and often threatened the existence even of the Italian people.

The events of quite recent history can be summarized in these words - half-promises, constant threats, Blackmail and finally as the crown of this ignoble edifice the League siege of the 52 States. This reference was to sanctions.

Our conscience is absolutely tranquil. With you the whole world is witness that the Italy of the lictor has done what was humanly possible to avoid the hurricane which is overwhelming Europe, but all was in vain.

It would have been enough to revise the treaties to adapt them to the vital demands of the life of nations, and not to regard them as infrangible throughout eternity.

It would have been enough not to have persisted in the policy of guarantees which have shown themselves to have been above all fatal for those who accepted them. It would have been enough not to have rejected the proposal which the Fuhrer made last October when the Polish campaign came to an end.

But all that belongs to the past. We are to-day decided to face all the risks and sacrifices of war. A nation is not really great if it does not regard its undertakings as sacred, and if it recoils them those supreme trials which decide the course of history.

We are taking up arms after having solved the problem of our land frontiers." he went on. We want to break off the territorial and military chains which are strangling us in our sea for a people of 45.000.000 inhabitants is not truly free if it has no free passage over the ocean.

The gigantic struggle is only a phase of the logical development of our revolution. It is the struggle of peoples poor, but rich in workers against the exploiters who fiercely hold on to all the wealth and all the gold of the earth. It is the struggle of the fruitful and young peoples against the sterile peoples on the threshold of their decline. It is the struggle between two centuries and two ideas.

Now that the die is east and we have our own will burned the bridges behind us. I solemnly declare that Italy does not intend to drag into the conflict other peoples who are her neighbours by sea and land. Let Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Egypt, and Greece take note of these words of mine, for it will depend entirely on them whether they are fully confirmed or not.

At a memorable meeting that in Berlin - I said that according to the law of Fascist morality when one has a friend one stands by him to the end.

We have done that and we shall do it with Germany, with her people, and her victorious armed forces. On the eve of this event of historic importance we address our thoughts to his Majesty the King emperor and we salute equally the head of a allied Greater Germany.

Hitler thought that the Italians were capable of holding their own in Africa, with a little German help. He expected too much of them. I had seen them in Spain, 'fighting' on the same side as we were. Hitler seemed to form his idea of their value from the way their commanders talked when he met them at the dinner-table. When he asked me what I thought of them, I retorted: 'I've seen them on the battlefield, not merely in the Officers' Mess.' I told Hitler: 'One British soldier is better than twelve Italians.' I added: 'The Italians are good workers, but they are not fighters. They don't like gun-fire.'

Anzio played a vital role in the capture of Rome by giving me the means to employ a double-handed punch - from the beachhead and from Cassino - which caught the Germans in a pincer movement. Without this double-handed punch I do not believe we should ever have been able to break through the German defences at Cassino.

Orders for the operation were issued on 2 January. The objective was defined as to cut the enemy communications and threaten the German rear. Fifth Army was ordered to make "as strong a thrust as possible towards Cassino and Frosinone shortly before the assault landing to draw in enemy reserves that might be employed against the landing forces and then to create a breach in his front through which every opportunity will be taken to link up rapidly with the seaborne operation". Despite the switch, in all, of five divisions from Eighth Army to the Fifth Army, German resistance on the main front remained stubborn; and during the early critical days the British and United States divisions at Anzio had to fight unaided for their own salvation. Meanwhile, on the Adriatic sector. General Montgomery had continued with his attempt to break through the enemy's defensive system; but with even less success as the weather worsened and the enemy's strength increased.

Against a less formidable foe an operation such as we had devised would have succeeded; but I think we may well have underestimated the remarkable resilience and toughness of the Germans, in expecting them to be frightened by such a threat to their rear.

Hitler's orders to Kesselring were to hold on to Cassino at all costs, for political reasons, and to eliminate the Anzio landing. The withdrawal of the Hermann Goring division from Italy was cancelled, and Hitler told Kesselring that he would be reinforced by two motorized divisions, three independent regiments, two heavy tank battalions and some heavy and medium artillery units. Thus the enemy refused to weaken his battlefront at Cassino by drawing back formations to deal with the landings.

Every time we attacked Kesselring in Italy we took him completely by surprise; but he showed very great skill in extricating himself from the desperate situations into which his faulty intelligence had led him. I feel now that he would not, in these circumstances, have altered his dispositions on the main front to any great degree until he had tried every means to eliminate the threat to his rear. Nor need his determination be doubted. The forces under his command had been engaged in a continuous retreat for almost a year since November 1942, a retreat that had brought them just short of Alexandria to just north of Naples - and it was time to put a stop to it.

I believe that the first and great principle of war is that you must first win your air battle before you fight your land and sea battle. If you examine the conduct of the campaign from Alamein through Tunisia, Sicily and Italy you will find I have never fought a land battle until the air battle has been won. We never had to bother about the enemy air, because we won the air battle first.

The second great principle is that Army plus Air has to be so knitted that the two together from one entity. If you do that, the resultant military effort will be so great that nothing will be able to stand against it.

The third principle is that the Air Force command. I hold that it is quite wrong for the soldier to want to exercise command over the air striking forces. The handling of an Air Force is a life-study, and therefore the air part must be kept under Air Force command.

The Desert Air Force and the Eighth Army are one. We do not understand the meaning of "army cooperation". When you are one entity you cannot cooperate. If you knit together the power of the Army on the land and the power of the Air in the sky, then nothing will stand against you and you will never lose a battle.

There are little bushes on the sand dunes at Red Beach south of the Sele River, and in a hole in the sand buttressed by sand bags a soldier sat with a leather-covered steel telephone beside him. His shirt was off and his back was dark with sunburn. His helmet lay in the bottom of the hole and his rifle was on a little pile of brush to keep the sand out of it. He had staked a shelter half on a pole to shade him from the sun, and he had spread bushes on top of that to camouflage it. Beside him was a water can and an empty "C" ration can to drink out of.

The soldier said. "Sure you can have a drink. Here, I'll pour it for you." He tilted the water can over the tin cup. "I hate to tell you what it tastes like," he said, I took a drink. "Well, doesn't it?" he said. "It sure does," I said. Up in the hills the 88s were popping and the little bursts threw sand about where they hit, and off to the seaward our cruisers were popping away at the 88s in the hills.

The soldier slapped at a sand fly on his shoulder and then scratched the place where it had bitten him. His face was dirty and streaked where the sweat had run down through the dirt, and his hair and his eyebrows were sunburned almost white. But there was a kind of gayety about him. His telephone buzzed and he answered

it, and said, "Hasn't come through yet. Sir, no sir. I'll tell him." He clicked off the phone.

"When'd you come ashore?" he asked. And then without waiting for an answer he went on. "I came in just before dawn

yesterday. I wasn't with the very first, but right in the second." He seemed to be very glad about it. "It was hell," he said, "it was bloody hell." He seemed to be gratified at the hell it was, and that was right. The great question had been solved for him. He had been under fire. He knew now what he would do under fire. He would never have to go through that uncertainty again. "I got pretty near up to there," he said, and pointed to two beautiful Greek temples about a mile away. "And then I got sent back here for beach communications. When did you say you got ashore?" and again he didn't wait for an answer.

"It was dark as hell," he said, "and we were just waiting out there." He pointed to the sea where the mass of the invasion fleet rested. "If we thought we were going to sneak ashore we were nuts," he said. "They were waiting for us all fixed up. Why, I heard they had been here two weeks waiting for us. They knew just where we were going to land. They had machine guns in the sand dunes and 88s on the hills.

"We were out there all packed in an LCI and then the hell broke loose. The sky was full of it and the star shells lighted it up and the tracers crisscrossed and the noise - we saw the assault go in, and then one of them hit a surf mine and went up, and in the light you could see them go flying about. I could see the boats land and the guys go wiggling and running, and then maybe there"d be a lot of white lines and some of them would waddle about and collapse and some would hit the beach.

"It didn't seem like men getting killed, more like a picture, like a moving picture. We were pretty crowded up in there though, and then all of a sudden it came on me that this wasn't a moving picture. Those were guys getting the hell shot out of them, and then I got kind of scared, but what I wanted to do mostly was move around. I didn't like being cooped up there where you couldn't get away or get down close to the ground.

The situation around Rome calmed down completely when the Commander of the Italian forces accepted in its entirety the German capitulation suggestion. This eliminated the danger to the supply of the 10th Army. At the same time the German Command in Italy was freed from the nightmare of having to use weapons against their former allies. The capitulation ensured for the Italian soldiers an immediate return to their homes. This concession had a repercussion because it infringed Hitler's order, according to which all Italian soldiers were to be made prisoners of war. But there can be no doubt that adherence to this order would have held out no inducement to the Italians to accept the German proposals.

Field-Marshal Kesselring had given express orders that no German soldier should enter the Monastery, so as to avoid giving the Allies any pretext for bombing or shelling it. I cannot testify personally that this decision was communicated to the Allies but I am sure that the Vatican found means to do so, since it was so directly interested in the fate of Monte Cassino. Not only did Field-Marshal Kesselring prohibit German soldiers from entering the Monastery, but be also placed a guard at the entrance gate to ensure that his orders were carried out.

Yesterday, on June fourth, 1944, Rome fell to American and Allied troops. The first of the Axis capitals is now in our hands. One up and two to go!

It is perhaps significant that the first of these capitals to fall should have the longest history of all of them. The story of Rome goes back to the time of the foundations of our civilization. We can still see there monuments of the time when Rome and the Romans controlled the whole of the then known world. That, too, is significant, for the United Nations are determined that in the future no one city and no one race will be able to control the whole of the world.

In addition to the monuments of the older times, we also see in Rome the great symbol of Christianity, which has reached into almost every part of the world. There are other shrines and other churches in many places, but the churches and shrines of Rome are visible symbols of the faith and determination of the early saints and martyrs that Christianity should live and become universal. And tonight (now) it will be a source of deep satisfaction that the freedom of the Pope and the (of) Vatican City is assured by the armies of the United Nations. It is also significant that Rome has been liberated by the armed forces of many nations. The American and British armies -- who bore the chief burdens of battle - found at their sides our own North American neighbors, the gallant Canadians. The fighting New Zealanders from the far South Pacific, the courageous French and the French Moroccans, the South Africans, the Poles and the East Indians - all of them fought with us on the bloody approaches to the city of Rome.

The Italians, too, forswearing a partnership in the Axis which they never desired, have sent their troops to join us in our battles against the German trespassers on their soil.

The prospect of the liberation of Rome meant enough to Hitler and his generals to induce them to fight desperately at great cost of men and materials and with great sacrifice to their crumbling Eastern line and to their Western front. No thanks are due to them if Rome was spared the devastation which the Germans wreaked on Naples and other Italian cities. The Allied Generals maneuvered so skillfully that the Nazis could only have stayed long enough to damage Rome at the risk of losing their armies.

Mussolini, with mistress, Clara Petacci, and twelve members of his Cabinet, were executed by partisans in a village on Lake Como yesterday afternoon, after being arrested in an attempt to cross the Swiss frontier. The bodies were brought to Milan last night. A partisan knocked at my door early this morning to tell me the news.

We drove out to the working-class quarter of Loreto and there were the bodies heaped together with ghastly promiscuity in the open square under the same fence against which one year ago fifteen partisans had been shot by their own countrymen.

Mussolini's body lay across that of Petacci. In his dead hand had been placed the brass ensign of the Fascist Arditi. With these fourteen were also the bodies of Farinacci and Starace, two former general secretaries of the Fascist party, and Teruzzo, formerly Minister of Colonies who had been caught elsewhere and executed by partisans.

Mussolini was caught yesterday at Dongo, Lake Como, driving by himself in a car with his uniform covered by a German greatcoat. He was driving in a column of German cars to escape observation but was recognised by an Italian Customs guard.

The others were caught in a neighbouring village. They include Pavolini, Barracu, and other lesser lights in Fascist world on whom Mussolini had to call in later days to staff his puppet Government.

This is the first conspicuous example of mob justice in liberated Italy. Otherwise the partisans have been kept well under control by their leaders. The opinion expressed this morning by the partisan C.-in-C., General Cadorna, son of the former field marshal, was that such incidents in themselves were regrettable. Nevertheless, in this case he considered the execution a good thing, since popular indignation against the Fascists demanded some satisfaction. The risk of protracted trials, such as has been taking place in Rome, was thus avoid.

New Zealand troops have occupied the Adriatic port of Trieste, which was not covered in the unconditional surrender, agreement providing for the ending of hostilities in Northern Italy and Western Austria on Wednesday. Marshal Tito's Yugoslav forces had already entered the port.

Prisoners taken by the Fifteenth Army group in Italy before the German capitulation exceeded 230.000, it was announced from Allied headquarters in the Mediterranean zone.

The reaction of the overwhelming majority of the British Eighth army troops to the Nazi surrender in the Italian theatre has been one of marked indifference, cables an Associated Press correspondent with the Eighth Army. The first British soldier to whom the correspondent spoke after peace was announced merely shrugged his shoulders and said, "The peace is good, but it's not getting me home any faster than if we were still fighting. I don't know whether I shall like Austria very much."

In Naples, the Communist Party had 150,000 members. All during the Mussolini time, twenty-two years, the railroad workers maintained an illegal, left-led union, underground. The Italian partisans, during the Nazi occupation, were slaughtering the Germans, especially as they were fleeing. Every sector of the front was commanded by a guy who fought with the Garibaldi Battalion in Spain. The guy that captured Mussolini and strung him up by his feet was Muscatalli. He fought in Spain.

There was tension at the heart of the relationship between Hitler and Mussolini’s governments. Mussolini had come to power sooner and was in many ways the figurehead for the far right in Europe. Hitler’s Germany was a much more powerful nation, despite the limitations it was grappling with in the aftermath of the Versailles settlement. Mussolini eyed Hitler’s achievements with envy, while the Fuhrer quickly came to resent the ineffectiveness of his closest ally.

The difference in capability and boldness became apparent in 1940, during the invasion of France. Italy sat back while Germany swept across northern France, driving the British into the sea and smashing the French armies. Only when Italy was sure the fighting was almost over and saw an opportunity to seize land and glory, did she step in. Italian troops crossed the Alps into southern France, making limited inroads.

Italian Soldiers in Russia, July 1942. Bundesarchiv – CC-BY SA 3.0

Oct. 13, 1943 | Italy Switches Sides in World War II

German Federal Archive Italian soldiers surrender to British troops in 1943.
Historic Headlines

Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On Oct. 13, 1943, one month after Italy surrendered to Allied forces, it declared war on Nazi Germany, its onetime Axis powers partner.

Italy was led into the war by Benito Mussolini, the fascist prime minister who had formed an alliance with Nazi Germany in 1936. In the summer of 1943, as Allied forces landed in Sicily, public support for the war and for Mussolini diminished. Mussolini was ousted on July 25 and his replacement, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, sought peace with the Allies, and reached an armistice on Sept. 3.

Germany, which had troops stationed throughout Italy, proceeded with an occupation of the country, and seized strongholds from a disorganized Italian military. In the Oct. 14 New York Times, the correspondent Milton Bracker noted that the Allied leadership believed that the Italian military would be of use in driving out the Germans: “Italian hatred of the Germans unquestionably grew as the fighting spirit waned, and episodes between German and Italian soldiers and civilians before and after the armistice have shown pretty clearly a complete and incontrovertible end of all sympathy between the former Axis partners. Therefore, it seemed reasonable to take advantage of the Italians’ willingness, even eagerness, to pin their hopes of a better role in the peace settlement to the status of co-belligerency now.”

Allied forces advanced slowly and arduously north through the Italian peninsula before finally defeating Nazi forces in May 1945. Mussolini, who was rescued by the Nazis from an Italian prison and made the leader of a puppet state, the Italian Social Republic, in parts of Italy not occupied by Allied forces, was captured and executed by members of the Italian Partisan Resistance.

Connect to Today:

With the passing of time and the creation of modern political and economic alliances like the Group of 8, the wartime and postwar tensions between the former Allied and Axis powers of the World War II might now be considered a distant memory. In 2002, however, President George W. Bush revived the notion of an enemy alliance when he referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an 𠇊xis of evil.” What long-term predictions do you have for countries the United States currently considers a threat? Why?

Alligator species have a range mostly in the Americas, while crocodile species have ranges in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Antarctica and Europe are the only continents without native species of crocodile.

“Because these crocodiles are poor swimmers, it is unlikely that they swim across vast tracts of ocean. But they can survive for long periods in salt-water without eating or drinking, so by only traveling when surface currents are favorable, they would be able to move long distances by sea.

Inside Abyssinia: by Evelyn Waugh, April 1936

I believe that the misfortunes that have fallen upon both peoples – the slaughter and terror on one side, the crippling expenditure on the other – are primarily due to the policy pursued by the British government. The emperor [Haile Selassie] believed that if he could win the support of the League [of Nations], there would be decisive action on his behalf he transmitted this to his simpler subjects in the assertion that England and France were coming to fight against Italy, so that even those who had least love of Abyssinian rule feared to declare themselves against what seemed to be the stronger side.

The Italians, in the face of sanctions and a campaign of peevish and impotent remonstrance in England, felt their national honour to be challenged and their entire national resources committed to what, in its inception, was a minor colonial operation of the kind constantly performed in the recent past by every great power in the world. No one can doubt that an immense amount of avoidable suffering has been caused, and that the ultimate consequences may be of worldwide effect.

Edited extract from Waugh in Abyssinia (Penguin). Evelyn Waugh visited Abyssinia in 1930 and 1935 as a reporter for the Daily Mail

How Italy Was Defeated In East Africa In 1941

In October 1935 Italian troops invaded Ethiopia – then also known as Abyssinia – forcing the country's Emperor, Haile Selassie, into exile. Ignoring protests from the League of Nations, the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proclaimed a new Italian empire in East Africa, comprising Ethiopia and the pre-existing territories of Italian Somaliland and Eritrea.

Following early successes by Italy's ally, Germany, in the Second World War, Mussolini declared war on Britain in June 1940. This meant that British possessions in East Africa, as well as British-controlled Egypt and the vital supply route of the Suez Canal, were now threatened.

The Italians attacked border posts in Kenya and Sudan, and captured British Somaliland in August. The Italian Viceroy, the Duke of Aosta, then ordered his troops to halt, allowing the initiative to pass to the British.

General Archibald Wavell, British Commander-in-Chief Middle East, planned a three-pronged counter-offensive to dismantle Italy's East African Empire. His force was outnumbered, but he had air support from the Royal Air Force (RAF).

In January 1941 Lieutenant General William Platt led forces from Sudan into Eritrea. The Italians quickly retreated and, in March, Indian and British troops won an important victory at Keren.

Blogging the Second World War

On the 18th and 19th of July King’s College London will be holding the following conference:

Allied Fighting Effectiveness in North Africa and Italy, 1942 – 1945

As the call for papers says this conference will seek to evaluate the role the Mediterranean theatre played in the the Second World War.

Issues of Allied strategy aside, academic attention to the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations during the Second World War has not been commensurate with the scale and significance of the military operations conducted therein. Compared with other major campaigns of the conflict, most notably that of France and Northwest Europe during 1944-5, there has been a lesser focus in recent years on the issue of Allied fighting effectiveness at the operational and tactical levels of war in the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns. Yet the breadth of operational and tactical experiences encountered in these campaigns was perhaps uniquely broad each campaign full of contrasts. For example, battles in Italy could be characterised by a degree of attrition more common to 1916 than the Second World War they could be static and bloody affairs which involved protracted efforts to break strongly-held defensive positions. Over the course of the campaign in Italy alone the British Army sustained more casualties than in any other theatre during the war. On the other hand, these campaigns witnessed bold amphibious strokes, accompanied by the innovative application of force in complex joint and combined operations. New approaches were evolved and refined at the operational and tactical levels of warfare it was in these campaigns that the Allies learnt much of their trade before the invasion of Northwest Europe in mid-1944. Encompassing the major campaigns of North Africa, Sicily and Italy from operation ‘Torch’ to the end of the war in Europe, this conference seeks to explore the intriguing dichotomy of the nature of battle in the Mediterranean theatre, whilst helping to emphasise its significance to the study of Second Word War military history.

The conference will explore the following key themes:

  • Tactical effectiveness: doctrine, training and experience combined arms tactics urban and mountain warfare technology morale and combat psychology.
  • Operational art command, control and communications logistics.
  • The war in the air: the counter-air battle, the employment of tactical airpower the effectiveness of air-to-ground operations.
  • Naval operations, specifically the development and evolution of amphibious technique.
  • Intelligence, propaganda, partisans and irregular warfare.
  • Inter-Allied cooperation and aspects of coalition warfare.

This should be an interesting conference and if you have an interest in the war you should come an listen to some of the papers.

Review of James Holland’s “ITALY’S SORROWS”

In many ways James Holland’s new book, Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-45 is a very excellent book.

The absolute horror that civilians experienced as the front line moved throughout the Italy in 1944 is described in detail. The military analysis is balanced with Italian, Allied and Axis perspectives. The combination of solid military analysis and the inclusion of a multiplicity of perspectives make this book excellent.

It comes really as no surprise that for each moment that the front line was in movement, and thru each village it passed, the citizens of those in the general are were subject to abject horrors. The surprise is that Holland transcends the normal boundaries of military history to include the perspective of the non-combatants. Refreshingly, the fears and attitudes of Italian non-combatants, partisans and soldiers alike are featured equally. Their recollections are forceful and don’t always fit neatly with the historical narrative we think we know. Italy was having a near all out civil war after the collapse of the government in Rome. Italy was under the aegis of three different governments: the mafia infested allied occupational government in the south, Axis occupational government in the north and of course, the rump puppet government of Mussolini, the Salo Republic.

But, if you were a civilian living astride the front line you had more pressing problems than who was in charge where. You would be very lucky if the war would move through your town or village in a day or maybe two days. There would be shelling, there would be death – but it would be over quick.

If you were unlucky, like those that lived in Casino or in other places up and down the Italian peninsula, the war would stall in your town or village for not one or two days but months or weeks. When this stall occurred the destruction was usually complete, 90% – 100% of structures destroyed in a given area, not to mention the loss of life and the horrendous conditions of living in a war zone. Your home would be destroyed your livelihood gone and many, many friends and family would be killed.

Holland brilliantly follows several Italian families who experienced this passing of the front. The recollections about those killed by ordinance that has not yet exploded or the feeling of utter confusion of wandering through a battlefield in the absence of information attempting to reach safety, but knowing full well, that any second could be the last for you and your family, all make for harrowing reading.

Civilians faced danger from the air, from both allied and axis aircraft, danger from ground troops, incessant shellfire, land minds and extreme German anti-partisan laws that legalized killing anyone for any reason.

Soldiers, at least generally, have access to food, water, medical attention and information. Civilians on the battlefield, generally, have none of these things in quantity. These elements of the civilian experience of war are often under explored in history and military history books, yet they are at the forefront of Holland’s history. For this, he deserves much credit for these eye opening accounts of Italy’s Sorrow.

The Second World Conflict: dates, events and protagonists

The Beginning of the conflict and Hitler’s rise to power

– 1939 (September 1st) : Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, decided to invade Poland, forcing France and England to intervene, in response to the violation of some agreements concluded a few years earlier and starting what would become the most important conflict in human history. The invasion of Poland was quick: it was conquered in just 20 days, thanks to the German military strategy known as flash-war (blitzkrieg), characterized by quick and violent attacks, through the use of every war vehicle at disposal. Later on, Hitler proceeded with the invasion of Northern European countries, by conquering Norway and Denmark.

– 1940 : Hitler started planning the conquest of France: passing through Netherlands and Belgium, the German troops invaded France and walked into Paris, forcing then-president Charles de Gaulle to escape to London and from there he urged his people to stand up against German occupation. France ended up being occupied by the Nazis in the Northern part and under the government of Vichy, who worked with the Germans, in the Southern part.

The Attack on Great Britain and Italy’s entry into the war

1940 : Hitler launched a military operation against Great Britain too, that included air and sea battles and that led to the bombing of some areas, including London, Coventry and Birmingham. However, the British determination and the leadership of Winston Churchill prevented the German soldiers to conquer the island, forcing Hitler to postpone the occupation of Great Britain (that would never happen).

Despite the alliance with Germany, Italy didn’t immediately enter the war, since its army wasn’t sufficiently prepared, as shown by Mussolini’s unsuccessful attempt to conquer Greece that was brought to fulfillment only thanks the support of the German troops. Even during the military campaign in Africa, the attempt to take Egypt away from British control was a failure and not even the support of Germany was enough to defeat the British.

The “Operation Barbarossa” and the Attack on Pearl Harbor

1941 : In spite of the Non-Aggression Pact signed with Stalin, Hitler launched another military operation against the Soviet Union, named Operation Barbarossa, that saw, at first, the German army moving forward within the soviet territory until they arrived a few kilometres from Moscow, Stalingrad and Leningrad, before being halted by the resistance of the population and the Red Army, who were supported by the rigid temperatures of the Eastern European winter Hitler’s army wasn’t prepared for.

– December 7th : Meanwhile, Japan, allied with Hitler and Mussolini, after trying to invade China in 1937 , launched a surprise attack on United States, more precisely on the base of Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. Therefore, the United States, led by then-president Franklin Roosevelt, entered the war alongside Great Britain against Germany, Italy and Japan.

– 1942 : The Nazis, with the support of the fascists, began to arrest, deport and eliminate Italian and European Jewish people, writing one of the darkest pages in the history of mankind: the genocide of the Jewish people or Holocaust . These practices would last until the end of the war however we’re are not going to deal with this topic in this article, actually we’d like to suggest you to read Se questo è un uomo, written by Primo Levi, a man who survived the concentration camps and that will offer you a truthful overview of this dramatic event.

The U.S. Intervention and the formation of the Partisan movements

– 1943 : Hitler’s troops were forced to withdraw from the Soviet front because of the tenacious resistance of the Red Army (but mainly because of the soviet cold winter thta had caused many deaths among the ranks).

Meanwhile, the U.S. landing in Sicily, near Syracuse, and the subsequent advance northwards meant the breakdown of Fascism, leading Mussolini to be distrusted by the Grand Council of Fascism and then being arrested and replaced by the general Pietro Badoglio who became the leader of the government.

– September 3rd-8th : Pietro Badoglio signed the armistice in Cassibile, turning the German troops on the territory into enemies (previously allied).

In this chaotic situation, some civilians banded together into armed groups, known as “Resistenza”, in Europe, and “partigiani” (partisans) in Italy, in order to fight the German enemy along with the U.S. troops.

– September 23rd : Mussolini, who had been imprisoned in a hotel on the Gran Sasso, was freed by the Germans and shortly after he proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of Salò in Northern Italy, where the U.S. troops hadn’t arrived yet. As a result, Italy was divided into the kingdom of Vittorio Emanuele III, freed by the Allies, in the Southern part, and the Republic of Salò, in the Northern part, ruled by the Germans and the Fascists.

1944 (March 24th) : The actions of the Partisans soon caused the violent response of the Nazis who started retaliating and going on killing sprees. One particularly dramatic episode was the one in which some Nazi officers ordered, in response to an attack occurred to the detriment of some German soldiers in Rome, 10 prisoners to be executed for every German soldier dead. On that occasion, 335 Italian prisoners were killed and their bodies were hidden in the Ardeatine caves. Such a dramatic event went down in history as eccidio delle Fosse Ardeatine (Massacre of the Ardeatine caves)

The defeat of Germany, Hitler and Mussolini’s demises and the Japanese surrender

– 1944 (June 6th) : The U.S. forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and with more than 100000 soldiers, they managed to liberate France, leaving Germany surrounded by the Soviets and the Allies

– 1945 : Many cities of Northern Italy were liberated from the Nazi-Fascist domination, also thanks to the actions of the partisans

– April 28th : Mussolini was arrested and executed by firing squad and his body was hung by his heels in the public square of Milan, Piazzale Loreto, while being exposed to the fury of the people

– April 30th : During the last moments of the bombing of Berlin, Hitler, who was already defeated, took refuge in his bunker to take his life

– August 6th and 9th : The U.S. president Harry Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt, in order to quickly end the war against Japan, that would not surrender (also to show the Soviet Union the U.S. power), gave the order to drop two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: with over 200,000 victims and the two cities burned to the ground, Japan was forced to surrender

Thus ended World War II, counting over 50 millions of victims, in 5 years. Furthermore, at the end of the conflict, Europe lost its centrality, giving the US and the Soviet Union the role of world superpowers and thus starting the cold war.

Good, our history lesson has come to an end if you want to learn something more about the history of Italy, like how Benito Mussolini managed to rise to power and become the dictator of the Kingdom of Italy, then don’t miss our video devoted to the Italian fascist era : it’s very interesting!

The Second World War

During the Second World War the principal centres of attention for the Scots Guards were North Africa, Italy and the moves through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany in 1944 and 1945 until the German surrender. The same arrangement for Battle Honours on the Colours was followed again. In 1939 the 2nd Battalion was already stationed in Egypt. Early on the Italians were the only enemy, but when they were badly defeated and there was a risk of their being expelled from Libya the Germans intervened. In 1942 the Afrika Corps came into being, well equipped, trained and motivated and led by General Rommel. In one of the subsequent battles the 2nd Battalion, in the 201st Guards Brigade, held the Knightsbridge Box for two weeks under heavy attack, but because of other events nearby it was a severe British defeat. The Battalion’s casualties were at a comparable level to a battle in the First World War and they won the Battle Honour “GAZALA”. The British withdrew to the Alamein position along the Egyptian border, which they held successfully ahead of the counterstroke at the Battle of Alamein. Revenge for Gazala came in March 1943 by which time the British were approaching the Tunisian border. General Rommel staged a major counterattack and, having just moved up to the most forward positions, the 201st Guards Brigade’s anti tank guns destroyed the German tanks at point blank range in large numbers, resulting in the important Battle Honour “MEDENINE”. Apart from participation in the abortive campaign in Norway in 1940 the 1st Battalion was still in Britain. Late in February 1943 they embarked on board ship, destination unknown, but it was to North Africa. By this time British and American troops were well into Tunisia. The last German line of defence was in rough, rocky hills (“djebel” in Arabic) twenty five miles from Tunis itself. The 1st Battalion, now in the 24th Guards Brigade, fought for two weeks here, suffering very heavy casualties, with thirst also a great strain. The Germans fought hard and the approaches to their positions were across the open, without any cover. The main objective of the 1st Battalion was a prominent outcrop dominating their area, nicknamed “the Bou”. On 27 April the advance was obstructed by a German machine gun post and by an 88mm gun position close by on the flank of the Bou. Only Captain The Lord Lyell with four men were in the right place to do something about it. First they attacked the machine gun post which Lord Lyell demolished with a grenade. One of his men was then killed and the other three wounded, though two were still able to fire to support him. Lord Lyell dashed at the gun position across the open, killed most of its crew before being killed himself and was awarded a posthumous VC. The German positions at the Bou finally fell on 5 May. The Battle Honours “DJEBEL BOU AOUKAZ, 1943, I” and “NORTH AFRICA, 1941-43” were added to the Colours.

It was in North Africa that Colonel Archie Stirling of the Scots Guards formed and had the ideal conditions to carry out raiding operations behind the enemy lines with the Special Air Service Regiment.

The 2nd Battalion took part in the landings at Salerno on 9 September 1942. Initially, there was a disturbing lack of opposition, but why became apparent as the British and the Americans, further south, moved inland. The Germans had deployed small parties, well concealed in scrub and ditches, to snipe from behind the advancing troops. The 201st Guards Brigade then came across a large agricultural complex at Battipaglia, which, on the only German communication route behind their positions, was of critical importance. The fighting was intense as both sides attacked and counterattacked and the casualties reflected it. The Allies just managed to hold onto what they had along the coast but it was a very close call before the enemy pulled back in the face of heavy bombing and shelling by the Royal Navy. A crewman on a landing craft said to a wounded Scots Guards officer he was looking after that he had heard that things were not going well ashore and asked him which Regiment he was in. On being told he said “I reckon we’ll be O.K. if the Guards are there.”

The British and American Armies advancing from the south of Italy joined up with those at Salerno and, as the autumn wore on and the conditions worsened, slowly and painfully moved on from each deep river valley across each mountain range beyond. The 2nd Battalion’s next major battle began on 5 November and was finally concluded on 9 December, a grim and gruelling fight up steep rocky slopes on thoroughly prepared German positions. The main hill, with three high points and a monastery on the top, gave its name to the Battle Honour “MONTE CAMINO”. Thereafter the struggle went on through the winter until the 2nd Battalion went home in March 1943.

In an attempt to speed matters up there was a plan to break into the German defences from behind by landing at Anzio just south of Rome. On 22 January 1943 the 1st Battalion was in this seaborne operation by both British and American troops. The problem at Anzio was that shortage of landing craft made it impossible to land a large enough force to give the American commander the confidence to land and advance rapidly to cut the main German supply route twelve miles inland. Instead he went for consolidation of the landings, so the Germans had time to regroup and counterattacked in force over the coming weeks. There was nearly a disaster. Nothing but the most desperate fighting, with casualties comparable to a prolonged First World War battle, enabled the British and Americans to hang on. On 2 March the 1st Battalion was evacuated with a total strength of 238, having lost 666 all ranks, a third of them missing, mostly captured. The other two Battalions in the 24th Guards Brigade had suffered similarly. Scots Guardsmen should look at the Battle Honour “ANZIO” with particular respect. The 1st Battalion fought in Italy till the end of the War by when half of all Scots Guardsmen who lost their lives had died there, the Battle Honour “ITALY, 1943-45” being their memorial on the Colours.

Well ahead of the invasion of Normandy that began on D Day, 6 June 1944, the 6th Guards Tank Brigade formed in England and included the 3rd (Tank) Battalion Scots Guards, equipped with Churchill tanks. On 22 July they landed in France and would serve from then on mostly attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division. Their first battle in Normandy was the assault on a long ridge, known usually as the Battle of Caumont, but for which the Battle Honour “QUARRY HILL”, part of the ridge, was awarded. The 3rd Battalion continued on into Belgium, Holland and finally Germany, the other Battle Honour attributable to them after the crossing of the frontier, but shared with others, being “RHINELAND”. Since leaving Italy the 2nd Battalion had been reinforced, including with a large detachment of men transferred from the RAF, and trained for infantry operations in the Guards Armoured Division which it joined early in February 1944 and fought with to the end of the War, ending up near Bremen. Almost immediately after their arrival the 2nd Battalion in the Guards Armoured Division and the 3rd Battalion again with the 15th Division were in from the start in the Battle of the Rhineland. It was very cold, but that it was so wet was worse over terrain of large easily defensible woods, low lying farmland and fortified villages. The enemy had withdrawn across the Rhine by mid March. In the operations to cross the Rhine and subsequently the 6th Guards Tank Brigade were for a time working with the Americans following which the Brigade Commander received a message from General Matthew Ridgway, Commander of the US Airborne Corps, later the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe “The period of our joint service has been brief but includes momentous days in a brilliant and now historic operation [the Rhine crossing and the advance to capture Műnster]. The contribution of 6 th Guards Armoured Brigade in the success of the whole operation has been conspicuously superior. On the occasions I have been privileged to mingle with elements of your command, I have felt at once that atmosphere, that intangible something almost physical, which only the finest troops create. I am deeply conscious of having had these incomparable troops in my Corps. I should like to express to you my appreciation of your unfailing and complete cooperation, and my high respect for your professional abilities and leadership.”Just after the German capitulation in May the 3rd Battalion had the unusual role of boarding and taking the surrender of a German submarine on the Baltic coast. The final Battle Honour was “NORTH WEST EUROPE, 1944-45”

PICTURES FROM HISTORY: Rare Images Of War, History , WW2, Nazi Germany

Dead Italian soldiers in North Africa. Mussolini's shattered dreams.

"Most Italian soldiers always fought with fanatical determination. Also some of their formations such as their armoured and Bersaglieri fought well in the African desert campaign. The Airborne and Alpine (Alpini) Divisions were top-notch."

Italian soldiers beat up Yugoslav civilians and partisans

Italian soldiers in occupied Soviet Union, autumn 1941 at Pavlovgrad


Italian soldiers in action at Amba Arad during the invasion of Abyssinia 1935-36

Italian Blackshirts at Makala, Abyssinia, December 11, 1935

German mountain-rangers with Italian soldiers during anti-partisan operation in Yugaslavia

Triumphant Italians pose against a captured British fortification during the campaign in North Africa

An Italian Bersaglieri riding a motorcycle with a Breda 30 machine gun in North Africa

An Italian with a Panzerfaust during the Allied invasion of Italy, 1943-45

An Italian soldier lies dead as British soldiers rush past at a train station in Syracuse during the landings in Sicily, 1943

Italian soldiers walk past a group of Waffen SS soldiers in Greece in 1941

Watch the video: Italy in WW2 - what went wrong? (July 2022).


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