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Archivio dell'Esercito Italiano

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I finish four wonderful days in the Italian Army archive. I felt like a kid in the candy store with no idea when I could return. So much material and so little time.
UfficioStorico.jpg


As I was going through the folders, I was tempted to photograph documents that weren't related to my current research but were of interest in general. I had to force myself not to take the time or I would be able to visit all the files I had on my list.
Archive2.jpg


I had purchased a document camera that worked quite well, although it needed a taller stand. I ended up using books to get the camera to the height I needed.
Archive1.jpg


One concern I had about the staff never happened, the archive staff was great to work with and accommodated many of my additional requests. . Once the archivist understood my research area, he took the time to go through the collect index and recommended other files to look at. Because of him, I have photos of Ramcke's briefing on his observations of the Italian paratroopers which he gave to Mussolini on 11 April 1942.

In all, I was able to photograph almost all the documents in the archive related to the paracadutisti. Now I will need time to go through it all.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
The USSME closed their book store during COVID (it is still closed). I took a chance and asked if I could buy some books to take back with me. Fortunately they said yes. So I completed my set of the Diario Storico del Comando Supremo. These books are available to read online, but that is awkward (IMHO) for me when doing research (I use a lot of sticky tabs). So I bought the missing books.
DiaricoStorico.jpg


I picked the books up this morning from the USSME. Now I need to figure out which books to carry and which books to put in my suitcase so I stay under weight (my Lady did clear me to pay for the extra weight if needed. She understands me).

I had a little time for some sightseeing...... St Peter's Square.
MeStPeteSquare.jpg


Finally back to my room for some research and posting. Researching the Italian way....
Reseach.jpg


I do have plans to return to the archive at some future date. So much to dig through....
 

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DrG

Member
Hi Jeff! The "funniest" thing is that the "Diario Storico del Comando Supremo" has been published only up to 30 April 1943 not because the following months are unavailable (I guessed they had been lost after the armistice), but because they finished the funds and then they never resumed its publication. :confused: But their typewritten originals should be available to researchers at the USSME, anyway.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I asked whether they were planning to finish the set. They stated that the documents had been sent to the publisher (I don't know whether the originals or copies) but....

So yes, likely funding. My friends in Rome keep telling me the Italian military is not well funded.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I am back in the US from my visit to the archives. What an amazing experience. I have told my Lady that we will go back next year. Much more to see and photograph. I found a very nice B&B in the Prati so likely will use them again.
 

Darren Marshall

New Member
Happy for your experience. I have visited the historical office several times when I was living in Rome. What documents have you viewed?
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Darren

It must have been nice to have that type of access.

I was pulling documents on the paracadutisti. I had 702 pages of documents when I was finished. I just starting to work through all the material.

What topics were you researching?
 

Darren Marshall

New Member
Darren

It must have been nice to have that type of access.

I was pulling documents on the paracadutisti. I had 702 pages of documents when I was finished. I just starting to work through all the material.

What topics were you researching?
Well mostly about the Sicily and the occupation of Albania. I Have a lot of material even from the Ufficio Storico Marina and Aeronautica.
 

1089maul

Member
Jeff,
Thanks for sharing your visit and photographs with us. It sounds a very interesting visit!
Regards,
Bob
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Darren

I copied these three documents on the Albanian regiments before I decided I needed to focus on the paracadutisti or I would never get through the files I had wanted to search.

Costituzione dei depositi del 1º - 2º e 3º reggimento fanteria albanese. 1º febbraio 1942 (six pages)

Costituzione dei reggimenti di fanteria albanese 1º, 2º e 3º. 24 febbraio 1942. (two pages)

Costituzione dei depositi del 1º - 2º e 3º reggimento fanteria albanese. 12 marzo 1942 (two pages)

If you don't have these and would like to have them, PM your email address and I will send them to you. If you already have them or no longer interested, not a problem.

Pista! Jeff
 

Andreas

New Member
Sorry it didn't work out Jeff. Hopefully next time!

All the best

Andreas
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Agree Andreas. Life does have a habit of changing plans :)
 

ItalianGirl54

New Member
I finish four wonderful days in the Italian Army archive. I felt like a kid in the candy store with no idea when I could return. So much material and so little time.
View attachment 1016

As I was going through the folders, I was tempted to photograph documents that weren't related to my current research but were of interest in general. I had to force myself not to take the time or I would be able to visit all the files I had on my list.
View attachment 1014

I had purchased a document camera that worked quite well, although it needed a taller stand. I ended up using books to get the camera to the height I needed.
View attachment 1015

One concern I had about the staff never happened, the archive staff was great to work with and accommodated many of my additional requests. . Once the archivist understood my research area, he took the time to go through the collect index and recommended other files to look at. Because of him, I have photos of Ramcke's briefing on his observations of the Italian paratroopers which he gave to Mussolini on 11 April 1942.

In all, I was able to photograph almost all the documents in the archive related to the paracadutisti. Now I will need time to go through it all.

Hi,
New member here!

Been poking around your site (am very sure I'll be spending a lot of time reading stuff) and just saw your post about visiting the military archive in Rome. I'm so completely envious of your trip to the candy store! Am also hoping your expertise can help me with my research; if so, you just might become my new best friend! Here's the thing: (sorry if it's a bit on the long-ish side):

Been trying to trace my father's military footsteps in peacetime and mostly through the war, have gathered a few details, but too much is missing - research online and in books only goes so far, plus I'm still learning what resources are available and how to access them from U.S. But I've always believed the military archives would have many answers and assumed I would find all sorts of war diaries and books in which my father's military history lives. I don't have the $$$ to travel to Italy, or I would go tomorrow, believe you me. I speak and read Italian, having grown up with it, but I do glaze over whenever I visit the archive website (don't know why) - can't get far enough to even know what to look for.

Couldn't help noticing you copied some stuff from the Albanian/Greek Theater! My father served as Bersagliere for the 1st and 2nd regiments in Greece in winter 1940, was taken prisoner in Jan. 1941, freed in the Spring, and, after Italy's armistice with the allies on Sept 8 1943, was among the 600,000 plus Italian soldiers sent to Nazi camps until 1945. I've filled in a few things from his Foglio Matricolare, also been able to identify his regimental battalion. Would love to pinpoint specific battles, locations, and that whole year and a half, or more, for which there is nothing on his record.

Anyway, you seem so well-informed, and, having just visited the archive you know your way around their many treasures - what do you think? Have any advice on how I can get started, some steps I can take ?

Sorry to be long-winded. I'm just too excited! And so appreciate your consideration.

Thanks!
Italian Girl in Search of Bersagliere Gaetano's Military History
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome to the forum ItalianGirl54

Much depends on what type of information you are seeking about your father's military career. You have indicated that you have his Foglio Matricolare which gives you his basic service history. Unless he was famous/important enough to have papers, it is unlikely that the archives will offer much. The best the archives will offer are any after action reports on specific battles that might offer details relevant to your father's service.

As you read Italian, here is a link to an online copy of Montanari's La campagna di Grecia, the USSME's official history of the campaign. Note that this is the 3ª edition which condensed three volumes into one. Most of the text and maps detailing the campaign are present, but most of the supporting documents are missing. This should give you an idea of where your father's units served and the overall challenges experienced by the soldati italiani.


You should read Mario Cevri's Storia della guerra di Grecia. Cervi served in Greece and became a journalist after the war. His account focuses on the incompetence of the Italian leadership and suffering of the soldiers. The book was translated as The Hollow Legions and is still considered a must read on the war in Greece.

You haven't indicated any service after being freed in 1941 until September 1943. The experience of the Italian POWs in Germany has seen some new scholarship in Italy. I would need to research to find the titles (books and articles) that address this issue.

As he was a bersaglieri, you could contact the Bersaglieri Museum in Roma. Unfortunately most Italian places such as the archive and the museums rarely offer support via email. I made my trip to Roma after I have contact the the USSME director and he basically said you need to visit.

I can't offer much else at this time. If you have specific questions related to his military service, ask in the appropriate folder (ie. The Balkans) and lets seen what the members can offer. If you have any family in Italy that are willing to visit places such as museums, that could speed your research. Much depends on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

Pista! Jeff
 

ItalianGirl54

New Member
Welcome to the forum ItalianGirl54

Much depends on what type of information you are seeking about your father's military career. You have indicated that you have his Foglio Matricolare which gives you his basic service history. Unless he was famous/important enough to have papers, it is unlikely that the archives will offer much. The best the archives will offer are any after action reports on specific battles that might offer details relevant to your father's service.

As you read Italian, here is a link to an online copy of Montanari's La campagna di Grecia, the USSME's official history of the campaign. Note that this is the 3ª edition which condensed three volumes into one. Most of the text and maps detailing the campaign are present, but most of the supporting documents are missing. This should give you an idea of where your father's units served and the overall challenges experienced by the soldati italiani.


You should read Mario Cevri's Storia della guerra di Grecia. Cervi served in Greece and became a journalist after the war. His account focuses on the incompetence of the Italian leadership and suffering of the soldiers. The book was translated as The Hollow Legions and is still considered a must read on the war in Greece.

You haven't indicated any service after being freed in 1941 until September 1943. The experience of the Italian POWs in Germany has seen some new scholarship in Italy. I would need to research to find the titles (books and articles) that address this issue.

As he was a bersaglieri, you could contact the Bersaglieri Museum in Roma. Unfortunately most Italian places such as the archive and the museums rarely offer support via email. I made my trip to Roma after I have contact the the USSME director and he basically said you need to visit.

I can't offer much else at this time. If you have specific questions related to his military service, ask in the appropriate folder (ie. The Balkans) and lets seen what the members can offer. If you have any family in Italy that are willing to visit places such as museums, that could speed your research. Much depends on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

Pista! Jeff

Grazie Jeff!

I purchased Montanari's book a while ago and am making my way through it. It's terrific. I am absolutely learning a lot about the Greek conflict and the major phases and battles, units, maps, etc. Problem is, I've yet to find detail at the battalion level. Maybe it's in there somewhere.

Also, to your point about my father's missing time after being freed in 1941 - ya, that's the problem. Foglio skips that whole year and a half; books on the Greek conflict don't cover what happens to those regiments after German forces came to the rescue. Even a book I have from the Bersaglieri Museum stops short of any mentions. Maybe Yugoslavia - but where, and for how long, I wonder. I also know at some point he was sent to Tunisia, but again, don't know when or for how long and can't find anything about his regiment/battalion being sent to N. Africa and during what time period. I do know that eventually, he went back to Greece, because that's where he was taken prisoner on Sept 8. I'll take your suggestion and see if members in the other folders have any info.

Is there in the archives such a thing as actual Bersaglieri Regimental diaries? There must be. Something that would just track the events of the regiment through certain years? I was thinking maybe knowing my father's regiment/battalion/colonel would help identify specific war diaries that would shed some more light on what happened and when. If not diaries, then just where they were deployed? When you posted about the Paracadudisti, I thought there might be something comparable for Bersaglieri. If I knew what to ask for, I would even consider paying an in-country researcher at some point to go to the archives and zero in on something specific for me. (My family members in Italy wouldn't travel to Rome just to do research for me.)

You're right about the body of knowledge growing in Italy about the IMI (Internati Militari Italiani). I've been tracking that for the past 15 years and have come across an awful lot - books, veterans' organizations, publications, etc. There's even a Medal of Honor being awarded posthumously and have submitted dad for that. Also found lots of stuff from the Holocaust Museum in DC and their recently acquired files from ITS in Bad Arolsen Germany. Sadly, what's always missing are the actual records of camps - I've only found one so far.

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.

-- ItalianGirl54
 

1089maul

Member
ItalianGirl54,
I am glad that you are making progress with looking into your father’s military history! Would It be possible for you put a picture of your father on this thread in his uniform? I always think that it is nice to get the face of the person being researched.
Regards and good luck with your research,
Bob
 

ItalianGirl54

New Member
ItalianGirl54,
I am glad that you are making progress with looking into your father’s military history! Would It be possible for you put a picture of your father on this thread in his uniform? I always think that it is nice to get the face of the person being researched.
Regards and good luck with your research,
Bob
Hello, Bob,
and thanks for your kind words and good wishes!
The military history research has been challenging though a labor of love. And it continues. I'm hopeful that as I read through and inquire in the many wonderful posts and suggestions in the various boards here that I'll discover other leads and sources to pursue.
So gracious of you to ask for a photo of Dad (such a handsome fella). I'll attempt to attach one here, hope I don't mess it up.
Many thanks and best wishes to you!
Regards,
ItalianGirl54

Gaetano-Bersagliere-02-styled 1 copy.jpg
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
A very good looking bersaglieri in his dress uniform. Likely taken right after he was conscripted/joined.

s there in the archives such a thing as actual Bersaglieri Regimental diaries?

Units have War Diaries, but they are inconsistent in quality and whether they actually exist. Chances are better that if such diaries existed for the 1º e 2º rgt. bersaglieri, the museum would have it.
 
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