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Italian Army of the Ethiopian Conquest


Staff member
Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2003 8:33 pm by Asiaticus

Here is what I have gleaned so far as to what forces the Italians had in the invasion of Ethiopia.

Name of Army:?
General Emilio De Bono 10/3/35-11/27/35
Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio 11/28/35-5/5/36
1st Corps (Eritrea)
Gen. Santini
26th ASSIETTA: 29th and 30th IR + 25th AR
30th SABAUDA: 45th and 46th IR + 16th AR
5th PUSTERIA: 7th and 11th ALR + 5th ALAR
4th "3 January" CCNN Division

2nd Corps (Eritrea)
Gen. Maravigna
19th (Gavninana): 83rd, 84th and 383rd IR + 19th AR
24th (Gran Sasso): 13th, 14th and 313th IR + 18th AR
3rd "21 April" CCNN Division

3rd Corps (Eritrea)
Gen. Baftico
27th (Sila): 19th ans 20th IR + 55th AR
1st "23 March"CCNN Division

4th Corps (Eritrea)
Gen. Babbini
5th COSSERIA: 89th and 90th IR + 37th AR (later 108th AR)
2nd "28 October"CCNN Division
5th "1 February" CCNN Division

Eritrean Corps (Eritrea)
Gen. Pirzio Brioli
1st Eritrean Division
2nd Eritrean Division

Motorized Column (Eritrea)
Ten. Gen. Starace
? Cavalry Regiment
? Cavalry Regiment
3rd Bersaglieri Regiment
?rd Horse Artillery Regiment
? Light Tank Battalion
? Mot. Anti-Tank Company
? Engineer Company

Grazziani Column (Somaliland)
29th (Peloritana): 3rd, 4th IR + 166th AR
Lybian Inf. Division: 1st Lybian IR(II,IIIBtn ), 2nd Lybian IR(IV,VBtn ) , 3rd Lybian IR(VIII,IXBtn ), X Btn + 1st Lybian AR
6th "Tevere" CCNN Division
7th "Cirene" CCNN Division
Aosta Lancers Cavalry Regt.
(1-12) Royal Colonial Troop Corps Battalions (Somali Colonial troops)
Camel Mtd Arillery
(1-10) Dubat Bands (Companies of Somali Irregulars)

Sultan of Olol Dinle Column(Somaliland)
(Feudal Army)

There were some other Colonial troops and police, so any further info on this force would be appreciated.


Staff member
Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2003 8:46 pm by Folgore

Asiaticus, I have a lot of interest in this particular subject, so if possible, can you provide some good links to some detailed information on the invasion of Ethiopia? I would appreciate it greatly.


Staff member
Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 8:41 pm by Asiaticus

Folgore wrote:
Asiaticus, I have a lot of interest in this particular subject, so if possible, can you provide some good links to some detailed information on the invasion of Ethiopia? I would appreciate it greatly.​

Id love to but all I have is the information in the Osprey "Men at Arms" Volume, The Italian Invasion of Abyssinia 1935-36 author David Nicolle. It has a bibliography so getting it would be a start. Looks like most sources are Italian language books. Some in English. Time to scour the libraries, and the used books on the net.


Staff member
Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 7:37 am by vzita

I would like to make some precise statements on the Italian Army OOB of the Ethiopian Conquest 1935-1936:

it is necessary to insert the presence of the Superior Command

ERITREA (Fronte nord)
COMANDO SUPERIORE A.O. (to see the note)

24a Divisione fanteria Gran Sasso (Adi Ugri-Quala zone)
27a Divisione fanteria Sila (upcoming from Italy)
4a Divisione CC.NN. 3 Gennaio (currently still in Italy)
5a Divisione CC.NN. 1 Febbraio (currently still in Italy)
6a Divisione CC.NN. Tevere (currently still in Italy)
Gr. Btg granatieri, alpini e guardia di finanza (upcoming from Italy)
tre Btg d'assalto (currently still in Italy)
7° raggruppamento da 149/13 (currently still in Italy)
7° Gr. da 77/28 autocarrellato
Unità del Genio del C.S.A.O. (Comando Superiore A.O.)
Aviazione da bombardamento, da ricognizione strategica e da caccia (Bombardment aviation, from strategic recognition and from hunting)


26a Divisione fanteria Assietta
5a Divisione alpina Pusteria
30a Divisione fanteria Sabauda
4a Divisione CC.NN. 3 Gennaio
X e XV Btg indigeni (eritrean colonial troop)
Banda dello Scimezana (native troop)
5° Gr. squadroni c.v.
3° Gr. 77/28 autotrainato
5° Gr. da 105/28 autotrainato
Comando artiglieria da posizione Agamé
Comandi I-VII-XI gruppi da posizione
Btr. da posizione:
- 1a indigena da 70/15; (eritrean colonial troop)
- 13a-17a-18a-21a-28a da 77/28;
- 6a da 120/25;
- 27a da 105/28
Unità del Genio del I Corpo d'Armata A.O.
Squadriglia libica aeroplani R.T. (lybian airplanes Squadron R.T.)


19a Divisione fanteria Gavinana
24a Divisione fanteria Gran Sasso
3a Divisione CC.NN. 21 Aprile
Gr. Bande altopiano (bande del Seraé, di Cheren e dello Hamasien) (native troop)
10° squadrone c.v.
Comando raggruppamento artiglieria da 100/17
1° e 2° Gr. da 100/17 autotrainati
1° Gr. da 77/28 autotrainato
4° Gr. da 77/28 autocarrellato
Comando Artiglieria da posizione del Tigrai occidentale (eritrean colonial troop)
Comandi IX-XIII e XX Gr. da posizione
Btr. da posizione:
- 19a indigena da 70/15; (eritrean colonial troop)
- 25a da 70/15;
- 30a-31a-32a-34a-35a-36a-41a da 77/28;
- 12a da 104/32;
- 5a da 120/25
Unità del Genio del II Corpo d'Armata A.O.
118a squadriglia aeroplani R.T. (118a lybian airplanes Squadron R.T.)

III CORPO D'ARMATA (to see the note)

27a Divisione fanteria Sila
1a Divisione CC.NN. 23 Marzo

IV CORPO D'ARMATA (to see the note)

5a Divisione fanteria Cosseria
2a Divisione CC.NN. 28 Ottobre
5a Divisione CC.NN. 1 Febbraio

CORPO D'ARMATA ERITREO (eritrean colonial troop)

1a Divisione Eritrea
2a Divisione Eritrea (meno X e XXV Btg indigeni)
1° Gr. Btg CC.NN. dell'Eritrea
Banda dell'Hassamò (native troop)
6° Gr. squadroni c.v. (meno uno squadrone)
Gr. squadroni cavalleria indigena
2° Gr. da 77/28 autotrainato
3° Gr. da 100/17 autotrainato
comando Artiglieria da posizione del Tigrai orientale
Comandi VI e XVIII gruppi da posizione
Btr. da posizione:
- 4a indigena da 70/15;
- 15a e 18a indigena da 77/28;
- 26a da 77/28;
- 4a da 120/25
Unità del Genio del Corpo d'Armata Eritreo
34a squadriglia aeroplani R.T. (34a lybian airplanes Squadron R.T.)

DALLA SOMALIA (Fronte sud)

29a Divisione fanteria Peloritana
Divisione Libia (libyan colonial troop)
- 1° Regg. fanteria libica (II e III Btg)
- 2° Regg. fanteria libica (IV e V Btg)
- 3° Regg. fanteria libica (VII e IX Btg)
- X Btg libico
- 1° Regg. artiglieria libica
6a Divisione CC.NN. Tevere
7a Divisione CC.NN. Cirene

(*) Note. he intends the line up in formation to October 8 th 1935 and they refer only to the COMANDO SUPERIORE A.O., I CORPO D'ARMATA, II CORPO D'ARMATA, and CORPO D'ARMATA ERITREO. Subsequently, with the arrival of the other G.U. from Italy, way of completing was had the line up and they was servants the III and IV C.d'A. using the unities that belonged to the two C.d'As. initial anymore that Eritreo.

Source: De Bono E., "La preparazione e le prime operazioni", Istituto Nazionale Fascista di Cultura, Roma, 1937. pagg. 175-177.

NB: In the mobilization of the Legions and the Battalions for the A.O. the criterion was adopted to give the same number of the department of mobilization increased of one hundred to the mobilized departments. So for instance, in the Legion Bergamo, the 114a Legion, that maintained the same name "Garibaldina", the battalion mobilized by the XV Btg. of Brescia, it became the CXV. And so all the others. They make exception to this norm the two Groups of battalions CC.NN.: 1° giving to the Btggs. the progressive numeration from The to IV; 6°, preserving to his/her Btggs. the native number.

Source: Lucas E. - De Vecchi G., "Storia delle unità combattenti della MVSN 1923-1943", G. Volpe Editore, Roma, 1976.


My give information it doesn't result that there pits in permanent organic the Motorized Column of the Ten Gen. Starace.
The "Celere Column Starace" (known also with the name of Celere Column A.O.) was constituted March 5 th 1936 and it was composed of 160 Officers 3.177 between noncommissioned officers and troop, understood ivi the strength of the 82° Battalion Black Shirts of the 6° Group. Assignment of the Column was the occupation of Gondar. In every case the correct composition is the following:

82a Legione CC.NN. "Mussolini"
3° Rgt bersaglieri
8° Gr artiglieria 77/28
Nucleo sussistenza
Reparto speciale Genio
Sezione Sanità
Ospedale da campo
Servizi speciali

Note: 1) in the strength the 82° Btg CC.NN was included. of the 6° Group 2) The 3° Rgt Bersaglieri was composed from 20°, 25° and 28° Btgs

Source: Starace A., "La marcia su Gondar", A. Mondadori, Milano, 1937.

once more you excuse my bad english

Vito Zita


Staff member
Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:03 pm by Asiaticus

This is great, Thanks. It realy fills in some detals.

I have a book coming, "Haile Selassie's War" by Anthony Mockler that is supposed to be pretty good, 496 pages on the whole confict 1935-41. Maybe it will have some more on this, especially the Somali native force.

Will post after looking it over.


Staff member
Posted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 7:44 pm by vzita

Strengths of the Italian Army in Ethiopia at the end of the conflict 1935-1936

As every military arrangement, also that, approved on September 12 (1937 NdR), that the colonial armed strengths of the A.O.I concern, it considers the organization of commands, troops and, services, that they result so established:


1 S. M. of the General Government, formed of: Head and Sottocapo of S. M.; Inspectors of the artillery and the genius; Superior manager of the services; Inspector of the departments black shirts of Africa.
1 command of division «Grenadiers of Savoia» (headquartered in Addis Abeba)
5 commands colonial armed strengths (one apiece: of the governorships: Eritrea, Italian Somalia, Amhara, Harrar, Galla-Sidamo)
17 commands of colonial brigade
1 command of the plaza of Addis Abeba.



2 regiments of infantry of Africa (4° and 5° «Grenadiers of Savoia») -
1 battalion gunners of Africa -
1 group of 4 battalions black shirts of Africa -
9 battalions gunners black shirts of Africa (motorized) -
62 colonial battalions left again among the 17 brigades colonial 6 bande dubat of Italian Somalia.


6 groups squadrons of colonial cavalry (assigned to 6 of the 17 brigades).


1 regiment artillery of Africa of the Division «Grenadiers of Savoia»
4 groups artillery of Africa (motorized)
4 groups of artillery anti-aircraft black shirts of Africa
17 groups colonial artillery, for the colonial brigades
1 group of 8 batteries of Africa from position (to Addis Abeba)
7 companies colonial gunners (you leave again among the five governorships).


1 regiment special genio of Africa, that also understands a company railroaders (to Addis Abeba)
2 companies genio of Africa of the division «Grenadiers of Savoia»
17 mixed companies of the genio, colonial, for the colonial brigades.


The superior Direction, near the Most greater State of the general Government, it has:

6 directions (artillery, military genio, transports military, military health, police station, veterinary),
2, ispettorati (military administration and spiritual assistance)
1 superior office military topocartografico

Every service has own organs detached near every of the 5 commands of colonial armed Strengths and near the command of the plaza of Addis Abeba.

It owes particularly to notice him that the service military transports, it has 1 auto special grouping of black shirts of Africa (to Addis Abeba) and 5 mixed autorepartis of Africa.

Altogether the new organism 'soldier will include:

2.000 officers in S.P.E.
500 of complement
1.800 noncommissioned officers
20.000 national troop
40.000 native
12.000 quadrupeds.

It is a real colonial army, created for the inside and external safety of the empire and orderly so that can live and to operate in any circumstance, with complete autonomy from mother country, as it asks for the distance, that separates the A.O.I. from Italy and the situation, particularly delicate, of the long line of communication.

[...] article continue [...]

Source: L'Illustrazione Italiana, anno LXIII, n. 40, 4 ottobre 1936-XIV, pag. 575-576.

best regards

Vito Zita
PS all these information (in italian language) are available in the site "Regio Esercito"
Last edited:


Staff member
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2003 3:43 am by Asiaticus

Thanks again. Great info here.

I have received the book Haile Selassie's War by Mockler which has a boatload of detail on the whole conflict from 1935-1941. So far I am pleased but I need to sit down and read the thing in detail.

I did find out what the story was on the Sultan of Ole Dinle was a misidentificaton of a pro Italian leader of the Ajuran Clan, Olol Dinke, a distant relative of the old Musafar Sultan that once ruled in Mogadishu. He was named Sultan of Sciavelli by the ambitious Italian governor, ( the Ajuan controlled the important Shibelli River) and sent him to conduct raids on the Ethiopian tax gatherers in an area up river the governor wanted to aquire for Italy, in 1931. This was retaliated against by the Ethiopian governor of the Ogaden who staged a counterattack into the Italian side of the border into the heart of Ajuan territorry, ending the raids and wrecking some Italian outposts, but this clash didnt escalate into anything more.

Later when the Italians invaded Ethiopia the Sultan at the head of 1000 Dubat (irregular white turbaned Somali) waged a campaign with the Italians in the Ogaden area against the local Ethiopian forces.


Staff member
Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 10:05 pm by Asiaticus

Was there a 26th Colonial Battalion sent from Lybia? I a have an account of a Lybian Battlaion being sent and put in an "East Lowlands Column" with 2 Eritrean battalions and 4 mountain pack guns carried by camels under a Gen. Oreste Marriotti. The source names a 26th Colonial Battalion, and a "Massawa Bande" in the ambush/battle in the Enda River Gorge 12 Nov. 1935. I assume the Massawa unit is Eritrean, and I know there was a 26th Eritrean Battalionat some point but was it this one?