The Italian Co-belligerent Army (Esercito Cobelligerante Italiano), Army of the South (Esercito del Sud), or Italian Liberation Corps (Corpo Italiano di Liberazione) were names applied to various division sets of the now former Royal Italian Army during the period when it fought alongside the Allies during World War II from October 1943 onwards. During the same period, the pro-allied Italian Royal Navy and Italian Royal Air Force were known as the Italian Co-belligerent Navy and Italian Co-belligerent Air Force respectively. From September 1943, pro-Axis Italian forces became the National Republican Army of the newly formed Italian Social Republic.
The Royal Italian Army, also known as the Regio Esercito, was established during the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. During the 1800's Italy started to unify into one country and in 1861, Manfredo Fanti signed a creation decree which created the Army of the Two Sicilies. This newly created army first task was to defend against the repressive power in southern Italy. The Army of Two Sicilies combated against criminals and other armies during this time of unification. After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Italian Co-belligerent Army was the result of the Allied armistice with Italy on 8 September 1943; King Victor Emmanuel III dismissed Benito Mussolini as Prime Minister in July 1943 following the Allied invasion of Southern Italy, and nominated Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) Pietro Badoglio instead, who later aligned Italy with the Allies to fight the Social Republic's forces and its German allies in Northern Italy.
Victor Emmanuel III was the King of Italy from 29 July 1900 until his abdication on 9 May 1946. In addition, he held the thrones of Ethiopia and Albania as Emperor of Ethiopia (1936–1943) and King of the Albanians (1939–1943). During his reign of nearly 46 years, which began after the assassination of his father Umberto I, the Kingdom of Italy became involved in two world wars. His reign also encompassed the birth, rise, and fall of Italian Fascism and its regime.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy from the fascists' takeover of state power in 1922 until 1943, and Duce from 1919 to his execution in 1945 during the Italian civil war. As dictator of Italy and founder of fascism, Mussolini inspired several totalitarian rulers such as Adolf Hitler.
Marshal Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino, was an Italian general during both World Wars and the first viceroy of Italian East Africa. With the fall of the Fascist regime in Italy, he became Prime Minister of Italy.
The Italian Co-belligerent Army fielded between 200,000 and 260,000 troops in the Italian Campaign, of whom 20,000 (later augmented to 50,000) were combat troops and between 150,000 and 190,000 were auxiliary and support troops. On the whole, the Italian Co-Belligerent Army made up 1/8 of the fighting force and 1/4 of the entire force of 15th Army Group of the Allied Forces.
The 15th Army Group was an Army Group in World War II, composed of the British Eighth and the U.S. Fifth Armies, which apart from troops from the British Empire and U.S.A., also had whole units from other allied countries/regions; like two of their Corps, one Division and multiple separate brigades, besides supporting and being supported by the local Italian partisans. It operated in the Italian Campaign between 1943-45.
The progenitor to the Co-belligerent Army, the Primo Raggruppamento Motorizzato (First Motorized Combat Group) was created on 26 September 1943 in San Pietro Vernotico, Brindisi, based on elements of the "Legnano" and Messina Divisions.Some of the soldiers who reported had managed to evade capture and internment by German forces. The unit was composed of 295 officers and 5,387 men and was created to participate alongside the Allies against Germany in the Italian Campaign. The unit was commanded by General Vincenzo Dapino who led it during its first engagement in the Battle of San Pietro Infine in December the same year. This action did much to remove the Allied distrust of Italian soldiers fighting on their side. The unit suffered heavy casualties and was judged to perform satisfactorily.
San Pietro Vernotico is a town and comune in the province of Brindisi, Apulia, on the south-east coast of Italy. Its main economic activities are tourism and the growing of olives and grapes. It was the site of a substantial Messapian community c. 500 BC
Brindisi is a city in the region of Apulia in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Brindisi, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Historically, the city has played an important role in trade and culture, due to its strategic position on the Italian Peninsula and its natural port on the Adriatic Sea. The city remains a major port for trade with Greece and the Middle East. Its industries include agriculture, chemical works, and the generation of electricity.
The 58th Infantry Division Legnano was an Infantry Division of the Royal Italian Army during the Second World War. It was raised on 8 February 1934 in Milan and was disestablished on 17 February 1944 in Apulia. On 24 May 1939 it also spun off the 6th Infantry Division Cuneo.
Following the service with the American Fifth Army and reorganization, command of the Primo Raggruppamento Motorizzato was put under General Umberto Utili and the unit was transferred to the Polish II Corps on the extreme left of the British Eighth Army.In early 1944 the unit was re-organised and expanded into the Italian Liberation Corps.
The United States Army North (ARNORTH) is a formation of the United States Army. An Army Service Component Command (ASCC) subordinate to United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM), ARNORTH is the joint force land component of NORTHCOM. ARNORTH is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.
Umberto Utili was an Italian general known as commander of Primo Raggruppamento Motorizzato of the Regio Esercito.
The Polish II Corps, 1943–1947, was a major tactical and operational unit of the Polish Armed Forces in the West during World War II. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Władysław Anders and fought with distinction in the Italian Campaign, in particular at the Battle of Monte Cassino. By the end of 1945, the corps had grown to well over 100,000 soldiers.
On 17 April 1944, the formation (now 22,000 men strong) assumed the name Italian Liberation Corps (Corpo Italiano di Liberazione, or CIL). The continuous influx of volunteers made it necessary to form further formations.The CIL was organized in two new divisions: The "Nembo" and the "Utili." The "Nembo" Division was formed around the old Royal Army's parachute division of the same name. The "Utili" Division was formed around the First Motorized Combat Group and was named after its commander, General Umberto Utili. In early 1944, a 5,000 man force of Italians fought on the Gustav Line around Monte Cassino and acquitted itself well. The Italians once again suffered heavy casualties.
Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of Rome, in the Latin Valley, Italy, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. Site of the Roman town of Casinum, it is best known for its abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order, having been established by Benedict of Nursia himself around 529. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed.
After the battle of Filottrano (July 1944), Italian troops were sent to the rear lines to rest and re-train. In the meantime they were re-kitted with standard British/Commonwealth equipment including Battle Dress uniforms and helmets (mostly new and not taken off corpses as hearsay sometimes has it).
By early 1945 the CIL had outgrown itself. It was used as the nucleus for six separate Combat Groups (Gruppi di Combattimento): "Cremona", "Legnano", "Friuli", "Mantova", "Piceno", and "Folgore". Each Combat Group was the equal to a weak division and was equipped with British uniforms, materiel and weapons. The established strength for each was 432 officers, 8,578 other rank, 116 field guns, 170 mortars, 502 light machine guns, and 1,277 motor vehicles. The Combat Groups were given the names of old Royal Army divisions and followed the component numbering system of the component regiments to some extent.These groups were attached to various American and British formations on the Gothic Line. The following is the "order of battle" of the Italian Co-belligerent Army as of April 1945.
The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces High Command was Marshal Giovanni Messe, while the Chief of Staff of the Army was Lieutenant General Paolo Berardi.
Each infantry regiment fielded three infantry battalions, a mortar company armed with British ML 3 inch mortars and an anti-tank company armed with British QF 6 pounder guns. The artillery regiments consisted of four artillery groups with British QF 25 pounder guns, one anti-tank group with British QF 17 pounder guns and one anti-air group armed with British versions of the Bofors 40mm gun.
In addition to the Combat Groups the Italian Co-belligerent Army included also a force of 8 Auxiliary Divisions (Divisioni Ausiliarie, largely intended to perform labouring and second lined duties), around 150,000-190,000 men strong, largely employed by the Allies in various support and logistical activities, those auxiliary units were the following:
On the whole the Italian Co-Belligerent Army made up 1/8 of the fighting force and 1/4 of the entire force of 15th Army Group of the Allied Forces.
Not directly dependent from the Allied Headquarters in Italy the Co-Belligerent Army also deployed three Internal Security Divisions (Divisioni di Sicurezza Interna) for internal security duties:
In 1946, the Kingdom of Italy became the Italian Republic. In a similar manner, what had been the royalist Co-Belligerent Army simply became the Italian Army (Esercito Italiano).
The Italian Liberation Corps suffered 1,868 killed and 5,187 wounded during the Italian campaign;the Italian Auxiliary Divisions lost 744 men killed, 2,202 wounded and 109 missing. Some sources estimate the overall number of members of the Italian regular forces killed on the Allied side as 5,927.
The Italian Army is the land-based component of the Italian Armed Forces of the Italian Republic. The army's history dates back to the unification of Italy in the 1850s and 1860s. The army fought in colonial engagements in China, Libya, Northern Italy against the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I, Abyssinia before World War II and in World War II in Albania, Balkans, North Africa, USSR and Italy itself. During the Cold War, the army prepared itself to defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion from the east. Since the end of the Cold War, the army has seen extensive peacekeeping service and combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. The headquarters of the Army General Staff are located in Rome opposite the Quirinal Palace, where the president of Italy resides. The army is an all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel.
The Alpini, are a specialised mountain warfare infantry corps of the Italian Army. They are currently organized in two operational brigades, which are subordinated to the Alpine Troops Headquarters.
This article is about the Italian Royal Army which participated in World War II.
The Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore" is an airborne brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units are three battalions of paratroopers (paracadutisti). The name "Folgore" is Italian for lightning. The Folgore is one of three light infantry brigades of the Italian Army. While the Folgore specializes in parachute operations its sister brigade in the Division "Vittorio Veneto" the Airmobile Brigade Friuli specializes in helicopter assault operations. The Folgore and its units are based in Tuscany, Veneto and Lazio.
The Paracadutisti are the paratroops of Italy.
The Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Italian Army, based in Rome and central Italy. The brigade fields one of the oldest regiments of the Army and is one of the guard regiments of the Italian president. The name of the unit dates back to the Kingdom of Sardinia and not the eponymous Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The brigade is part of the Division "Acqui".
The Aosta Mechanized Brigade is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Italian Army, based on the island of Sicily. The Brigade is one of the oldest of the Italian Army and the name connects the brigade to its original area of recruitment the Aosta Valley and its coat of arms is modeled after Aosta's coat of arms. The brigade is part of the Division "Acqui".
The 131st Armoured Division Centauro was an armoured division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed in February 1939, by upgrading the 1st Armoured Brigade. It took part in operations in Albania, Greece and Yugoslavia before returning to Italy. Sent to North Africa in August 1942, it surrendered in Tunisia on 13 May 1943.
184th Paratroopers Division Nembo or 184th Divisione Paracadutisti Nembo (Italian) was an airborne division of the Italian Army during World War II.
The Friuli was a division of the Italian Army since World War II.
The 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Granatieri di Sardegna Division can trace its origins to 1659 when the Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy formed a regiment of Guards. It became a unit in the national army in 1866.
The 44th Infantry Division Cremona was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II.
The Mantova Mechanized Brigade was a mechanized brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units were mechanized infantry battalions. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Cividale del Friuli. All the brigade's units were based in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In 2003, the Mantova was raised again as a division command.
The Legnano Mechanized Brigade was a mechanized brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units were mechanized Infantry battalions. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Bergamo in Lombardy. The name of the brigade commemorates the Lombard League victory in the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and its coat of arms depicts the Monument to the Warrior of Legnano in the centre of Legnano.
The Cremona Motorized Brigade was an infantry brigade of the Italian Army. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Turin. The brigade carried on the name and traditions of the 44th Infantry Division Cremona.
The Folgore Mechanized Division was a mechanized division of the Italian Army. Its core units were three mechanized brigades. The brigades headquarters was in the city of Treviso.
The 8th Paratroopers Engineers Regiment "Folgore" is the Italian Army's airborne combat engineer unit. The regiment provides close combat support to the Paratroopers Brigade "Folgore". The unit is fully professional, able to deploy with on short notice and capable to fight in every environment. In peacetime it is available to support the civil protection, be it for disposing explosive remnants of war or in case of natural disasters.
The 185th Reconnaissance Target Acquisition Regiment "Folgore" is an Italian special operations forces unit.