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Battle Beda Fomm


I'm looking for information on the Italian casualties at Beda Fomm. Also, does anyone know on what dates the Italians left Benghazi? And the order of the units arriving at Beda Fomm? Thanks!
he last retreating column of the 20th Army Corps left Benghazi at 6.00 (6 AM) on February 5, 1941....as regards the influx in the Beda Fomm area of the truck-mounted column departments belonging to the 85 The .o and 86th Infantry Regiment from Ghemines were the first to pass through the Via Balbia and managed to cross on the morning of 5 February 1941, then reaching Agedabia without being intercepted by the British. Different was the fate of other departments always belonging to the two regiments which instead were stopped by the Italian command in Soluch due to lack of vehicles were destroyed by the British avant-gardes. at 15.00 again on 5 February the Allegri Group passed through and was instead intercepted by British armored cars which engaged it in a battle about 30 km from Agedabia. However, the group reacted and managed to reach Agedabia. It was the only group that made it through. At approximately 14.30 on 5 February 1941 the 10th Bersaglieri Regiment was attacked again on the Balbia between Km 44 and Km 42 and was completely annihilated. In the early afternoon of 6 February, still on the Balbia and still in that point, the Colpani, Moech and Pasquali Groups were intercepted and destroyed in the following order, followed shortly by the 6th tank battalion M. Still in the afternoon of 6 February, they were intercepted and the Bignami Group was destroyed at km 55 and the 21st tank battalion M13/40 at km 80. Finally, again in the late afternoon, the remainder of the 20th Army Corps was destroyed, i.e. the Bergonzoli group which proceeded on the Balbia with the Piana group in the vanguard, followed by elements of the former Regima garrison, from the Babini Brigade, from the 12th. or Savona artillery and by the Ferrara Group. This is the "arrival" order of the Italian departments in the Beda Fomm area.
ALl the best
As for the losses during the battle of Beda Fomm they were not high compared to the battles for Tobruk and Bardia. The Italians had a total of 1139 dead and wounded but at the same time they had an unknown but high number of prisoners. Overall, the 10th Italian Army had ceased to exist managing to evade capture only 7,000 nationals and 1,300 Libyans with 460 automatic weapons, 60 mortars, 13 20mm guns, 17 from 47/32, 9 from 65/17, 20 from 75727 and 20 from 100/17....
All the best


Staff member
I am currently researching this battle (and the associated campaign) as a possible book. It is pretty complicated and many records were lost.

Maurizio's timeline is pretty accurate, although the VI btg. carri M moved south early on the morning of 6 Feb. I am still working on the movements of the XXI btg. carri M. Working through which gruppi had which units is likely going to be more guesswork than proven fact.

Pista! Jeff
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Yes, Jeff, you are absolutely right even if with a little luck and a lot of patience in my research now lasting twenty years I managed to get a certain idea both on the events and also on the presences and the related OOBs....
All the best


THANKS to all for such a quick reply! You all have so much information and yet its not posted. Maybe if I keep asking questions it will. I had come up with about 800 casualties by game calculation so 1139 sounds right. Can you or Maurizio identify the many groups he posted? Colpani, Moech and Pasquali mean nothing to me.

Correction. I forgot to include the British Royal Horse Artillery. Italian casualties would be 1,200 men.
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When the command of the 10th Army gave the order to withdraw, various groups or groupings of circumstance were formed. Their certain composition (at least of some) I have never been able to fix it despite the long research over the years but you can find them in the pages of the Tome The first British offensive in North Africa ... tome which unfortunately I have lost and I can't find it anymore...maybe Jeff has it and it will be of help to you....I can only give you the composition of some of them (Beda Fomm 5/2/1941) because I have some notes made at the time....therefore:
-Raggruppamento Colpani
--un gruppo da 75/27 (2 batterie)
--una batteria da 65/17 (6 pezzi)
--una compagnia da 47/32 (8 pezzi)
--3 sezioni da 20mm (6 pezzi)
-Raggruppamento Moech
--un gruppo da 105/28 (3 batterie)
--due gruppi da 75/27 (3 batterie)
--due batterie da 65/17
--una compagnia da 47/32 (8 pezzi)
--una sezione da 20mm (6 pezzi)
--una compagnia mitraglieri
-Raggruppamento Pasquali
--parte del battaglione paracadutisti (nazionali)
--una compagnia mitraglieri
--4 mitragliatrici da 20mm
--un gruppo da 75/27-06 (9 pezzi)
--3 cannoni anticarro da 47/32
-Nucleo Motorizzato Allegri
--un plotone bersaglieri motociclisti
--2 sezioni da 20mm
--un plotone da 47/32
--una batteria da 65/17
--una batteria da 75/27
--un nucleo trasmettitori (radio)
all the best


Staff member
This is from La prima offensiva britannica pp.254–256. Note that it is incomplete and with some errors that I am trying to work through.

Forze contrapposte all’inizio della battaglia (5 febbraio)



Raggruppamento «Pasquali» (circa 1.000 uomini):
1/2 btg. paracadutisti,
1 comp. mitr.,
4 mitr. da 20mm,
1 gr. art. da 75/27 (9 pezzi),
3 cannoni da 47/32.

Retroguardia Libia Orientale:

a) Element del Comando (circa 200 uomini)

2 pl. bers. motocicilisti (18 motocicli),
1 autoblindo,
8 pezzi da 20 mm.

b) Brigata corazzata (circa 2.500 uomini con i servizi)
III e V big. carri M 13 (20-30 carri),
VI btg. carri M 13 (45 carri),
12° rgt. art. «Savona» su 2 gruppi,
1 btr. da 105/28 del XX rgt. art.,
1 btr. da 75/CK del XX gruppo,
LXI btg. carri L (12 carri di cui 6 inefficienti),
nucleo del LX btg. motociclisti (29 motocicli),
4 autoblinde.

c) Raggruppamento art. «Piana» (circa 1.800 uomini):
1 gruppo da 105/28 su 3 btr.,
1 gruppo da 75/27 su 3 btr.,
1 gruppo misto (1 btr. 75/27 e 3 sez. mitr. da 20).

d) Gruppo «Ferrara» (circa 700 uomini):
1 btr. da 75/27,
4 mtr. da 20mm,
4 cannoni da 47/32.

e) Raggruppamento «Crucillà» (circa 600 uomini):
10 mtr. da 20 mm.
4 cannoni da 47/32,
6 nuclei mtr. cal. 8.

Raggruppamento «Bignam»i (già riserva del Comando Superiore) (circa 1.600 uomini):
XXI btg. carri M 13 (36 carri),
1 btg. mitr.,
1 gruppo da 75/27 su 3 btr.

II. - UNITÀ in corso DI RIPIEGAMENTO (circa 3.500 uomini).

Su automezzi:
Comando 10° armata e Comando XX corpo d’armata.
Elementi della Divisione «Sabratha »..

Raggruppamento «Moech »:
1 gruppo da 105/28 su3 btr.,
2 gruppi da 75/27 su 3btr.,
2 btr. da 65/17,
1 compagnia cannoni da 47/32 su 8 pezzi,
3 sez. da 20 mm. (6 pezzi),
1 compagnia mitraglieri.

Raggruppamento «Colpani»:
1 gruppo da 75/27 su2 btr.,
1 btr. da 65/17 su 6 pezzi,
compagnia da 47/32 su 8 pezzi,
3 sez. da 20 mm. (6 pezzi).

Nucleo motorizzato «Allegri»:
1 pl. bers. motociclisti,
2 sez. da 20 mm,
2 pl. da 47/32,
1 btr. da 65/1,
1 btr. da 75/27,
1 nucleo radio.

Reparti dell’85° e dell’86° reggimento fanteria
10° reggimento bersaglieri
Elementi della «piazza » di Bengasi e dell’Intendenza.

Appiedati, in attesa (o in mancanza) di automezzi (circa 8.000 uomini dislocati tra Barce - Bengasi - Solluch - Ghemines):
Elementi della Divisione «Sabratha».
Reparti dell’85° e dell’86° rgt. ftr.
Btg. compl. della Divisione «Cirene ».
Btg. mitr. della Divisione «Brescia ».
Btg. mitr. della Divisione «Savona».
Btg. di formazione del deposito 115° rgt. fanteria «Marmarica».
Elementi vari dei servizi ecc.
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Wow! Thanks to all! I did find this for the Battle of Michili but it is unsourced:

The Piana Group was composed of 121 officers, 2,241 men, twelve 105/28 mm guns, twenty-four 75/27 mm guns, twelve 65/17 mm guns, sixteen Fiat 35 machine guns, eighteen 45 mm mortars, ten flamethrowers, 115 light trucks, 83 heavy trucks and 120 motorcycles.

The Bignami Column was composed of the XXV and XXVII Bersaglieri Motorized Battalions, a group of twelve 75/27 mm guns detached from the 25th Bologna Division and the VI and XXI Tank Battalions, with thirty-seven M13/40 tanks each;

The Piana Group and the Bignami Column were kept in reserve.


Staff member

Where did you find that information (Battle of Mechili)? Which webpage?

I will check my sources this afternoon (I have an appointment this morning), but IIRC that information doesn't track with what I have in my sources.

Pista! Jeff


Staff member

Thank you.

The info for Bignami appears to be from Montanari vol.I, p.320.

The Piana info doesn't match anything I have. Montanari p.320, fn 1 gives it 72 artillery pieces, 62 machine guns, and the 18 mortars are likely 81mm, not Brixias. I suspect that this organization was pieced together, a process that I have just started for my own work.

The major challenge is figuring out from where all the batteries, companies, battalions, etc. came from to formed these raggruppamenti.

Both of these units were significantly different on 4 February as listed above.

Pista! Jeff


Staff member
As I was building a spreadsheet to track the units from Dec 40–Feb 41 (already a lot of work), I finally figured out why the info from Wiki bothered me. The XXV and the XXVII are btg. mtr., not btg. bersaglieri. I knew that the 10º rgt. b. wasn't part of Bignami but I forgot to check the battalion numbers. Montanari does list the two battalions (XXV and XXVII) as battaglioni mitraglieri autoportati.

Working in haste.

Pista! Jeff
Well done Jeff....of course the two battalions were non-bersaglieri machine gunners also because the only formation of bersaglieri other than the Army, Army Corps and division motorcyclist companies present in AS at that date was the 10th Bersaglieri which ended badly in Beda Fomm....but be careful because it is one thing to consider the Piana Group (which was none other than the Motorized Group extruded from the Sabratha division) at the time of the battle of Mechili (in which, among other things, it did not participate other than marginally) another is to consider it at the time of the battle of Beda Fomm .... the same thing also applies to the Babini Group and the Bignami Group .... Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source often mixes information perhaps even if not voluntarily also because the writer is often a different person from the one who started the article.....
all the best


Staff member
Thank you Mauizio. I should have caught the error sooner but was in a hurry.

but be careful because it is one thing to consider the Piana Group (which was none other than the Motorized Group extruded from the Sabratha division) at the time of the battle of Mechili (in which, among other things, it did not participate other than marginally) another is to consider it at the time of the battle of Beda Fomm .... the same thing also applies to the Babini Group and the Bignami Group ....

I am well aware that the compositions of the gruppi and raggrupamenti changed quite often during this time. That is why I am building a spreadsheet to track the units. I hope to achieve two goals: the first is to better identify the actual units that were in each of the Italian formations; the second is hopefully to fill in the gaps of missing information. I realize that this effort will not fully reveal everything; too much information is missing.

Pista! Jeff