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Generale Gustavo Pesenti


Staff member
by orlando lorenzini » Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:47 am

Hello everybody:

I would like to know the biography of the Italian general Gustavo Pesenti; he was the commander in chief of the Italian troops in the sector of Giuba in 1940.

Salute from Spain

Orlando Lorenzini


by Steen Ammentorp » Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:48 am


You will find what I got on him at this link:
General Gustavo Presenti

What is not listed yet is that he died in 1960.


by orlando lorenzini » Fri Jul 28, 2006 2:36 am

Hello Steen:

Much thanks for your very interesting reply; especially for the photograph of General Gustavo Pesenti; the main aspects of his life I know it, but I had no photograph of him. Much thanks; personally this Italian general is difficult for me to speak to him. I think that he was an Italian patriot, he was a pacific man, and he didn´t want a war against England. It is difficult to understand in wartime the ideas of the pacific man.

If is possible, I would like to know more things about the life of General Pesenti. Especially dates about his military knowledge. Which was the military think of General Pesenti? where did he study? Was he married? had he sons?. He was infantry, artillery, cavalry.....


by BRY » Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:59 am

What about Pesenti's business trip to South Africa a month before the declaration of war, anything known of it?


by orlando lorenzini » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:46 am

Hello BRY:
I didn´t know that Gen. Pesenti traveled to South Africa in May 1940 for business questions. I know that he was an intellectual and he was a letter man; he didn´t want a war against England and is possible that he was a member of British Intelligence. What type of business had he in South Africa in May 1940?. Gen Pesenti was an enemy of the fascist regime, he was a friend of the Marshall Badoglio and the Gen. Gazzera.In "The Second World War" Sir Winston Churchill said with great security that over Kenya in the summer of 1940 the Italian troops in Somaliland wouldn´t attack to British troops in Kenya, why did Churchill say these things with great safety?. Churchill said not to be afraid of one Italian attack from Italian Somaliland. In June 1940 Gen Pesenti had sufficient forces and weapons in Somalia for to attack Kenya with success; the British troops in Kenya were few, the Gen. Dickinson had four battalions of the K.A.R. for to defend the Northen Frontier District also he had two batteries of field artillery, he hadn´t aircraft. Perhaps in that travel of Gen. Pesenti to South Africa in May 1940 he could to treat one possible surrender to the Allied forces it is a only possibility. BRY, one great salute from Spain.

Is it possible that the Gen. Pesenti treated the surrender terms with the British in South Africa or perhaps the British called to him to say the conditions of the Italian surrender in Italian Somaliland. First the Gen. Pesenti refused these conditions and therefore he decided to fight and to overrun Kenya, but the great resistance encountered in Moyale battle in July 1940 finally did that he decided to surrender to the British. Therefore the Duke of Aosta traveled to Mogadishu to push him to fight against the British. Furthermore over Italian Somaliland, the South African troops led by Gen. Cunningham attacked in February 1941.



Staff member
by BRY » Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:25 pm

In Mockler's book he talks of several things on the matter, the Duke first learned of the skirmish at El Waq on the BBC, he cabled Pesenti who replied that he knew nothing of it. The Duke with ADC General Volpini fly down to Mogadishu for an inquiry. He orders Pesenti to the palace. Pesenti gives his account of the El Waq affair and draws from it the conclusion that the struggle is hopeless, and that the Viceroy should seek an immediate armistice as a prelude to a separate peace between A.O.I and Britain."Though he was immediately ordered by the Duke to be silent,he insisted on speaking, pointing out the political and psychological repercussions that such an audacious move could have in Italy".

"There is a curious sentence in a long memo sent out by Churchill to the Chiefs of Staff a week or so later. The sentence is this: "At any time we may receive armistice proposals from the cut-off Italian garrison in Ethiopia".

Mockler feels that the British knew of Pesenti's feelings, and had possibly been in contact with opposing commanders, possibly in South Africa. Was Pesenti a mason, by chance?


by orlando lorenzini » Sat Jun 09, 2007 10:58 am

Hello BRY
Many thanks for your reply. The first Italian attack in A.O.I. was in Somaliland over Kenya, the first Italian troops attacking was led by General Pesenti; the first great battle in East Africa was in Moyale in July 1940. If Gen. Pesenti attacked is because he believed in the possibility of the victory, notwithstanding the great British resistance in the Moyale fort provoked that Pesenti thought that the Italian victory in East Africa was impossible. I saw a web in which Gen. Pesenti was a British agent, he worked for the Foreign Office.


by JulioMoc » Fri Jun 15, 2007 2:56 am

Well, I must confess I'm surprised by this discussion about Pesenti. I wonder if this has a connection with the weak resistance in Somaliland during Cunningham's attack in February 1941...

PS: what's the name of Mockler's book? Could you tell me some good literature about the war in AOI?


by BRY » Fri Jun 15, 2007 1:25 pm

I believe there is a connection, JulioMoc, so many unexplained things. The name of the book is Haile Selassie's War, by Anthony Mockler, a former foreign correspondent, specializing in Africa. I feel that he is actually quite fair in the book, his list of sources is very extensive.


by orlando lorenzini » Sat Jun 16, 2007 10:38 am

Hello JulioMoc and BRY!:
JulioMoc the main bibliography about this interesting and great middle-forgotten campaign you have in the web of Stone books, Stone and Stone; here you will find extent bibliography about this matter. For the study of the campaign in Somaliland in February 1941, the main book is:
Orpen, Neil "The South African forces in the 2 World War: the campaign in Somalia and Abyssinia", Cape Town, Purnell,1968?.

The question about the position of the General Pesenti in summer 1940 is very important for to can explain the Italian defeat in the south front in AOI,notwithstanding the Gen. Pesenti hasn´t whole responsibility in that Italian defeat because the British resistance in the North of Kenya was responsibility of the Gen. Dickinson and the King´s African Rifles. The British Army although, small in peacetime, is very efficient.The whole responsibility of the Italian defeat in Somaliland in Feb. 1941 was of the South African Army.
One salute from Spain: