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Considerations after 3 months of the Greek-Italian War

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
A friend provide this translation of a document from the SME archives. The document was written by generale Emilio BANCALE, commender of the VIII C.A. No date is on the document, but given the three months in the title and the fact that gen Bancale was placed by generale Gastone Gambara on 7 Feb 1941, a late January/early February date is likely.

As I have not seen the document, the translation is as I received it. I have made a few changes to make the document easier to read in English using the context of the passage in question. Words in [ ] were added by either the original translator or myself to aid comprehension. I assume the bold was in the original document, but I do not definitely know whether that is true. Any errors are mine alone.
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"Considerations after 3 months of the Greek-Italian War”. January 1941
Secret memorandum of General Emilio BANCALE (Commander of the VIII A.C. in the Greco-Italian War until February 1941).

ARMAMENT

1° - Light machinegun
[The Breda Mod.30] = it's too delicate and complicated. Stoppages are frequent, especially when used for long periods under adverse weather conditions, in low temperatures, and in muddy terrain.
We need a more rugged weapon, more robust, more protection for its susceptible parts; especially, we should give it the same characteristics of the rifle to [be] "fire-on-the-move", attached to a shoulder belt .
Possibly it shouldn't require much lubrication (it's not always easy to find oil).
Preferably it should have a belt-fed feeding system that can be carried on the shoulders or on the belt by the gunners and by machinegun ammo carriers.

2° - Calibers - we must unify them (now we have a rifle and lmg in 6,5; machineguns in 8mm with hard to find ammo).
Adoption of the 8mm caliber.

3° - Mortar 45mm Brixia - Ineffective; we need a weapon of the same kind, which can have a better effect and longer range

4° - Mortar 81mm - it's the most effective weapon, the most powerful for the infantry. We must deploy more of them.
It's, however, defective in the complicated use of the additional firing charges.

5° - Hand granades - too short ranged.
We must study a type of hand grenade which can have a long wooden handle, in order for it to be launched at a greater range (we can even decrease the individual number carried)

BATTLE FORMATIONS (OOB)

1° -
Assign to each [Infantry] Battalion (included in the "Support Weapons" Companies) n.6 x 81mm mortars;
-
1 platoon
- 3 squads
- 2 weapons for each squad,
while still leaving intact the 81mm Company already present in each Infantry Regiment.
It is the weapon upon which the infantry must, today, place all its attentions for carrying out its combat actions.

2° - Increase the number of ammunition bearers for the LMGs, the MGs and the mortars (45mm and 81mm); we need additionally 3 more men for each weapon system.
The ready-on-the-frontline ammunition for the aforementioned weapons are scarce and it's not always possible [to have] a rapid and timely resupply, should we follow the already established mode-of-operation as written in our army regulations

3° - The Division should have an "Engineer" Battalion attached to it, formed as such:
- 1 company of "artieri" [pioneers]
- 1 company of radio-telegraphists
- 1 company of marconists.
The actual assigned complement has shown to be insufficient.

4° - The artillery groups of each Divisions should all be able to be moved by pack animals

5° - It's well recognized that we need to go back to the "three regiments" pattern Division OOB. [!!!]

RECRUITING

1° -
The infantry soldiers should be better selected from the very start.
The most able-bodied men, in taking under consideration their physical strength and their prowess, should all be assigned to the Infantry.
Unfortunately, we can see today that there are young soldiers who fit the aforementioned characteristics, and yet, they can be seen assigned to :
- medical units
- logistical corps
- auto-transportation corps
- in Command Centers, either in the "Operational zones of war" or in the mainland

2° - Establish an especially recognizable badge for the Infantry soldiers, but only to those who fight on the front-lines.
The soldiers who fight on the front-lines should be, moreover:
- better paid then the other soldiers
- they should have better-quality uniforms and equipment than the soldiers in rear echelons or on logistical missions.
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CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT

1° -
Our coats and overcoats don't particularly protect from the cold

2° - Puttees = we should completely abolish them.
- We should make long trousers which can be tightly attached along the ankles;
- The fastening should be covered by the knee-high socks of the soldiers.
- Adopt an elastic strip around it, to prevent dirt, mud or dust to enter the shoes.

3° - All officers should have;
- binoculars
- a simple small , practical telemeter (for the officers assigned to mortar units).

OFFICERS

1° - Officers in S.P.E.
(career officers, permanent service) are too few in numbers in our units.

2° - The "figure" of the Battalion Commander has been shown to be, even more so than in the past, a central and important figure for the soldiers on the field;
- he shall be a Leader
- a Lively motivator of men
- a Driving Force for the soldiers.
We must select, but even more so, we shall be able to letting reach this extremely and most delicate position, only the really capable and able-bodied (officers).
Moreover, it is not useful to use higher ranking Officers (who are not S.P.E. Career officers) in temporary command of Battalions, of Artillery Groups or of similar sized units (their military training is lacking).
In lacking S.P.E. Officers, we should employ in such positions lower-rank Captains, but only S.P.E. captains.
At the same time, Lieutenants in S.P.E. should, in case, command Companies.
With such internal procedures, we will have in our war only NON-S.P.E. Officers in command of Platoon and Sections.

3° - We should increase in number the H.Q. Staff Officers or Officers who are in service at the HQ of the Divisions; experience has shown us that their number is absolutely minimal and lacking.

4° - At each Army Corps H.Q., we should create a "Center for Officers replacement” to fill-up incumbent losses in a normal war

5° - Poor and deficient in training are also our NCOs and also our "Graduati" (corporals and such), either the ones in permanent service or in a "re-drafted" service.

TRAINING

1° -
In the operational Units, we noted a lack of training and cohesions among soldiers, caused also by the large presence of elements [soldiers] who were recalled in the army just days before being employed.
It is necessary to dedicate more time, during peacetime, to the knowledge and the employment of the weapons in force, to the training in the fighting methods, and to the training of the general knowledge of the "graduati" [corporals and such].

2° - The replacement soldiers which have arrived had not a single day of prior training.
Many belonged to previous levy "classes" and didn't even know what a squad machinegun or a mortar are and they absolutely didn't know how these weapons were to be used.

SERVICES

1° -
In the Division, it appears that the employment of a "medical unit" and a "ordnance" section are superfluous.
They should be better shifted at the Army Corps level, in order that, shall the need be arise, they could be, from time to time, assigned to the Divisions at the frontline.

2° - The Division should instead have an own "reparto salmerie" [packhorse unit] which should consist of at least 50 quadrupeds
 
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