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 on the side of the Allies during World War II from September 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 was the army of the Kingdom of Italy from the unification of Italy in 1861 to the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. In World War II the Royal Army fought first as part of the Axis (1939–43) and then as a co-belligerent of the Allies (1943–45). 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 over 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 50 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 (1936–1941) 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.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.
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 consisted by 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 2 of their Corps, 1 Division and 7 Brigades, besides supporting and being supported by the local Italian partisans. It operated in the Italian Campaign during the WWII, between 1943-45.
On 28 September 1943, the first contingent of the Italian Co-belligerent Army assembled near Lecce; some of the soldiers who reported had managed to evade capture and internment by German forces.
Lecce is a historic city of 95,766 inhabitants (2015) in southern Italy, the capital of the province of Lecce, the second province in the region by population, as well as one of the most important cities of Apulia. It is the main city of the Salentine Peninsula, a sub-peninsula at the heel of the Italian Peninsula and is over 2,000 years old.
"Italian military internees" was the official name given by Germany to the Italian soldiers captured, rounded up and deported in the territories of Nazi Germany in Operation Achse in the days immediately following the World War II armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces.
A corps (1° Raggruppamento Motorizzato) was then created. The unit included elements of two divisions that had previously been part of the Regio Esercito: the 18 Infantry Division Messina and the 58 Infantry Division LegnanoThe corps was composed of 295 officers and 5,387 men.
The corps' first engagement was in the Cassino sector at Monte Lungo. 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.
The Battle of San Pietro Infine was a major engagement from 8–17 December 1943, in the Italian Campaign of World War II involving Allied forces attacking from the south against heavily fortified positions of the German "Winter Line" in and around the town of San Pietro Infine, just south of Monte Cassino about halfway between Naples and Rome.
Following service with the American Fifth Army, commanded by Mark W. Clark, and re-organization, command of the 1° Raggruppamento Motorizzato was transferred to the Polish II Corps on the extreme left of the British Eighth Army under the command of Oliver Leese.
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.
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, Greece, North Africa, Russia 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, at the back of the Presidential Palace. 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 Friuli Division 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.
On March 1, 1984 the Italian Institute for Disarmament, Development and Peace (Istituto di ricerche per il disarmo, lo sviluppo e la pace in Rome published the entire Italian Army order of battle down to company level - this was justified for the radical party as one of its core demands was total disarmament of Europe, even though the data which was published was top secret. The Radical Party dissolved in 1989 and the IRDISP followed suit in 1990. But Radio Radicale has survived, and the OrBat can still be found today on the homepage of the radio.
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.
185th Paratroopers Division Folgore or 185ª Divisione Paracadutisti Folgore was a Parachute Division of the Italian Army during World War II.
184th Paratroopers Division Nembo or 184th Divisione Paracadutisti Nembo (Italian) was an airborne division of the Italian Army during World War II.
The 104th Infantry Division Mantova was a auto-transportable Infantry Division of the Italian Army during the Second World War..
The Friuli is 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 54th Infantry Division Napoli was a regular infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was created 15 April 1939 in Caltanissetta and was dissolved 14 August 1943 in Melia southeast of Scilla, Calabria after being nearly wiped out in the Allied invasion of Sicily. The division drafted men in southern Sicily. The members of the division hailed from Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Syracuse and surrounding territories.
Operation Grapeshot order of battle is a listing of the significant formations that were involved in the Spring 1945 offensive in the Apennine Mountains and the Po valley in northern Italy, April 1945 – May 1945.
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 unique and special unit manned by para combat engineers belonging to the Italian Army which exists to provide close combat support to the Paratroopers Brigade Folgore. For this reason it is fully manned, able to deploy with a very short notice and fighting in every environment, either permissive and nonpermissive one. In peacetime it is continuously involved in supporting civil population disposing explosive remnants of war or other explosive devices, normally in support of police forces, and in case of natural disaster.