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Bersaglieri and Alpini OOB at Keren

Hardrada55

New Member
Does anyone know the OOB for the Bersaglieri Battalion attached to the 11th Granatieri Regiment which fought so capably at Keren in 1941? Did it have two Bersaglieri companies or three? Was there a weapons company? Mortars? At this time I understand them (info via Jack Green and Tactical Notebook) as having a Command Company which consisted of a Command Platoon with a Supply squad and a Transport squad, a Signal Platoon with a Radio/Telephone squad and a Heliograph squad, and a Reconnaissance Platoon with three Recon squads (41 men). The Bersaglieri battalion with two Rifle Companies, each of which was composed of a Command Squad and three Bersaglieri Platoons, each Bersaglieri platoon had two squads, and a Machine Gun Platoon with 4 Hvy MGs, probably one Hvy MG in each of 4 squads. About 500 men? This is just my conjecture. Any help would be appreciated.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I have not seen anything definitive. That being said, the battalion was originally a granatieri battalion (III/11º regg. granatieri). I suspect that the organization didn't change from a regular infantry unit organization but was simply renamed. I believe that is the same case for the btg. alpini « Uork Amba » (III/10º regg. granatieri).
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I have been checking my sources on bersaglieri organization. All of them show three companies per battalion. Whether the III/11º regg. is organized as regular infantry or bersaglieri, it should have three companies.

Have you looked at https://comandosupremo.com/forums/index.php?threads/organization-of-the-bersaglieri.123/

That is for a bicycle regiment. A motorized regiment is a little different. There is a question whether the III btg., if actually reorganized as a btg. bersaglieri would have been reorganized as a motorized unit. The two regg. granatieri were not motorized.
 

FrancoFB

Member
afaik all army white rifle btln in AOI following same TOE, if i remember right in the ufficial history there are some data
 

Hardrada55

New Member
So am I understanding correctly, a command company, three rifle companies and a machine gun company? Didn't the Alpini Uork Amba have an 81mm platoon? Did the Bersaglieri at Keren have an 81mm mortars?
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Franco

Thank you for reminding me.

Tomo II documento 17 states that each battalion has three cp. fucile, 1 cp. mtr. There are no 81mm mortars in the division (same with the divisione fanteria « d'Africa »). « d'Africa » is also a little different as its two regiments (210º e 211º regg. f.) only had two battalions instead of three.

Documento 15 list seventy-one 81mm mortars in the AOI. I don't have any idea where they are located.

In document 17 the infantry battalions each have 9 machine-guns (mtr) and 9 45mm mortars (m). I assume that the listed cp. mtr. in each battalion is actually a cp. armi d'accompagnamento. A cp. acc. has two platoons each of mtr and 45mm mortars, so those number of weapons match (the mtr should be 8 instead of 9, but this is the AOI).
 

FrancoFB

Member
imho the mg coy was on 3 plat with 3 mg each; the 45mm were in one squad, 3 weapons, each rifle coy; the 81mm were in separate coy
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
That could be correct for the mtr. The nine 45mm were likely one platoon of three squads with three weapons each.

The information in the official doesn't list any 81mm mortar companies. Eight cp. m. were being shipped to the AOI in 1940 but never arrived (tomo I, p. 40). Four cp. m. had been shipped to AOI in 1939 (equipment only, no personnel, ibid p.39). The seventy-one 81mm mortars in the AOI in June 1940 could equip almost eight standard cp. m.

Again reading documento 15 (Approximate situation of units, vehicles, weapons and ammunition, availability of fuels, lubricants, and foodstuffs in A.O.I. dated 15 July 1940, it only lists fifty-seven 45mm mortars. That is only enough to equip one division. The unit breakdown/organization shown in documento 17 lists nine 45mm mortars in each battalion of the granatieri and d'Africa. That totals ninety 45mm mortars (54 in the granatieri, 36 in d'Africa).
 

FrancoFB

Member
The 45mm could be in a plat in the coy mg, on the numbers probably only the Granatieri division btlns had it, for the 81mm almost one time 81mm mortar coy is cited in the narration in the official history, page 149
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Franco

RE: 45mm m.
I assume that the listed cp. mtr. in each battalion is actually a cp. armi d'accompagnamento.

Yes, I believe the cp. mtr. consists of three plt. mtr., one plt. m. da 45mm.

Good find on the mention of the 81mm. I don't believe that the mortars are part of the granatieri. Note that in the complete paragraph (pp.148-149), it states which units came from the granatieri ("2 compagnie mtr. e 1 plotone fucile anticarro della divisone «Granatieri di Savoia"). The cp. m. da 81mm is listed separately. More important, the mortars are listed as "1 compagnia coloniale mortai da 81" which indicates that the 81mm mortars are on the colonial establishment and not part of a GU (Grande Unità). [my bold] Remember that in my earlier post that the 81mm mortars that arrived in AOI came without personnel, so were likely meant to be manned by colonial troops.

This passage therefore provides two interesting bits of data. 1) the 81mm mortars are likely independent units under FF.AA. AOI control and allocated as needed.; 2) that there are fucile anticarro in the AOI that I didn't know about.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
Okay.

I believe that when the «Granatieri di Savoia» was created in 1936, mortars weren't included in the colonial establishment. The new 45mm and 81mm were needed to first equip the metropolitan units. IIRC in 1938 or 1939 with the threat of war looming, Italy decided to better equip its forces in the AS and AOI. I believe that there was plan to change the TO&E of the «Savoia» to include the mortars and the weapons were being shipped as they became available. The war started before the reequipping was completed and the TO&E officially changed. «d'Africa» was created in July 1940 and reflected the forces and equipment available in the AOI.

I believe that is why the weapon companies in the battalion were still called cp. mtr. instead of cp. acc.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I have moved the thread as it is entirely focused on the role of the bersaglieri in the AOI.
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
I have yet to discover more about the bersaglieri. However I have found more info on the alpini.

It appears my assumption was incorrect that the III btg. were merely renamed. The btg. alpini « Uork Amba » was formed at Feltre in Italy in 1936 as the new VII btg. complementi for the 7º regg. alpini. It was sent to the AOI in January 1937 to replace the original VII btg. complementi that was deployed with the 7º regg. alpini as part of the d. alp. «Pusteria ». The new btg. absorbed/replaced the original battalion. Given it was formed in Feltre, it is more likely that the battalion was organized as a btg. alpini. Most of this info is from Faldella's Le truppe alpine nella seconda guerra mondiale pp. 163-164. Unfortunately Faldella doesn't give us the organization of the unit.

What is interesting is I can't find any info on the btg. bersgalieri. The unit lineages provided in L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 does discuss the « Uork Amba » as part of the 7º regg. alpini. That regiment also has the AOI as one of it battle honors. I checked all the bersaglieri units in the volumes and none have the AOI 1940-41 listed as an honor.

I don't have a detailed history of the bersaglieri in my library, so I can't dig any deeper into this. One online source stated the battalion was called the btg. bersaglieri « d'Africa ». The problem here is that bersaglieri units serving years earlier in Africa were also called by that name. Websites using that title don't mention/include the battalion in the 11º regg. granatieri.
 
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