Organization of the infantry

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
This thread documents the organization of the Italian infantry. The intent is document any changes during the war by date. Please comment/correct.

The main sources used are:
Addestramento della fanteria volume I e II Ministero della Guerra 1940
Handbook on the Italian Military Forces Military Intelligence Service 1943
L'esercito italiano tra la 1ª e la 2ª guerra mondiale USSME 1954
Le squadra della fanteria Scola di applicazione di fanteria 1943
Manuale di regolamenti per i corso allieve ufficiali di complemento Ministero della Guerra 1940
Personale e materiali per i collegamento nelle minori unità Manuale di tecnica militare 1934

Infantry Organization 1940

Squadra fucilieri (infantry squad) - 18 men
Comandante di squadra
Vice Comandante di squadra
gruppo fucilieri - eight soldati
gruppo fucili mitragliatori - eight soldati with two Breda 30 f.m.
The comandante normally moves with the gruppo f.m., the vice comandante with the gruppo f.

Plotone fucilieri (infantry platoon) - 38 men
Comandante di plotone
Attendente
Two squadra fucilieri

Compagnia fucilieri (infantry company) -
Plotone comando
-squadra comando
-squadra rifornitori (supply squad) - 14 men
-squadra salmerie f.m. - 13 men and 12 mules
Three plotoni fucilieri

Squadra esploratori (reconnaissance squad) - 13 men
Comandante di squadra
Vice comandante di squadra
11 esploratori

Plotone esploratori - 41 men
Comandante
Attendente
Three squadra esploratori

Squadra mitraglieri - 18 men
Comandante
Vice comandante
16 soldati with 2 heavy machine-guns
salmerie with 4 soldati with 4 mules

Plotone mitraglieri - 39 men
Comandante
Two attendenti e segnalatori
Two squadra mitraglieri

Squadra mortai da 45 - 14 men
Comandante
Capo gruppo munizioni
12 soldati with three Brixia mortars

Plotone mortai da 45 - 45 men
Comandante
Two attendenti e segnalatori
Three squadra mortai da 45

Compagnia armi accompagnamento (support company)
Plotone comando
-squadra comando
-squadra rifornitori (supply squad) - 17 men
-squadra salmeria mortai da 45 - 33 men and 30 mules
Two plotoni mitraglieri
Two plotoni mortai da 45


Battaglione fucilieri
Compagnia comando
-plotone comando
—squadra maggiorità
—squadra servizi
—squadra salmeria
-plotone collegamento
—squadra telefonisti
—squadra osservatori e segnalatori
—squadra staffe
-plotone esploratori
Three compagnia fucilieri
One compagnia armi d’accompagnamento


Squadra mortai da 81 - 15 men
Comandante
9 soldati with one 81mm mortar
5 soldati 5 mules

Plotone mortai da 81
Comandante
Two attendenti e segnalatori
Two squadra mortai da 81

Compagnia mortai da 81
Plotone comando
-squadra comando
-squadra rifornitori (supply squad) - 17 men
-squadra autocarri - 8 trucks
Three plotoni mortai da 81

Squadra cannoni da 47/32 - 19 men
Comandante
10 soldati with one 47/32 c.c.
9 soldati with 9 mules

Plotone cannoni da 47/32 - 39 men
Comandante
Two squadra cannoni da 47/32

Batteria d’accompagnamento da 47/32
Squadra comando
Two plotone cannoni da 47/32
(or cannoni da 65/17)

Reggimento fanteria
Compagnia comando
-plotone comando
—squadra maggiorità
—squadra informatori
-plotone collegamenti
—squadra marconisti
—squadra telefonisti e guardafili
—squadra osservatori, segnalatori e colombofili
—squadra staffette
-plotone servizi
—squadra carreggio - 24 wagons (seven for each battalion; of these four carry munitions for the companies, and two for the compagnia a.a., three for the compagnia comando da reggimento).
—squadra autocarreggiato - three autocarregge (one per compagnia a.a.)
—squadra rifornitori
Three battaglioni fucilieri
One compagnia mortai da 81
One batteria d’accompagnamento
 
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Eugen Pinak

New Member
Was the standard infantry organization even changed during the war?

BTW, do you know, how many "graduati" infantry squad had? - Four?
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Was the standard infantry organization even changed during the war?
Basically no. The A.S. 42 structure changed the company organization, but the infantry platoon remained the same. Two soldati were added to the squad in 1941 as a scout element (increased the squad from 18 to 20 soldati). Only a few divisions outside A.S. converted to the A.S. 42 organization.

BTW, do you know, how many "graduati" infantry squad had? - Four?
I have that information at home. Will post tonight unless some else does so before then.
 

Eugen Pinak

New Member
The A.S. 42 structure changed the company organization, but the infantry platoon remained the same.
But from the data you've posted on this forum AS-42 company had different infantry platoons, than standard infantry company.


Two soldati were added to the squad in 1941 as a scout element (increased the squad from 18 to 20 soldati).
So there was a change in the standard squad. And it complicated squad organization even further. Poor Italian squad leaders :(


Only a few divisions outside A.S. converted to the A.S. 42 organization.
There were divisions not in Africa, that had AS-42 organization??? Which ones?
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
But from the data you've posted on this forum AS-42 company had different infantry platoons, than standard infantry company.
Teaches me to work off memory. You are correct. :)

So there was a change in the standard squad. And it complicated squad organization even further. Poor Italian squad leaders :(
Actually no it didn't. This is quite similar to the pre-1938 squad/platoon, just that the f.m. are now in the squad instead in a separate squad.

There were divisions not in Africa, that had AS-42 organization??? Which ones?
I will be home shortly and post.
 

Eugen Pinak

New Member
Actually no it didn't. This is quite similar to the pre-1938 squad/platoon, just that the f.m. are now in the squad instead in a separate squad.
It was not similar at all.
Pre-1938 squad had your classic "French" organization of commander and 2 teams - rifle and LMG. Each team had dedicated commander, so in combat squad leader had to deal only with them.
1938 squad had squad leader doubling, as LMG team leader. Which means he now had three subordinates: rifle team leader and two LMG commanders. Despite clumsy attempts of the new manual to ignore this, such an arrangement obviously changed the way squad was run in combat. Official Italian history of the doctrine has some bad words about such an arrangement, which increased burden of the squad leader.
And now you say there was a scout team added to the squad in 1941. This makes four or even five subordinates to the squad leader.

Most astonishing of this is, that such clumsy squad was created to reduce burden of the platoon commander by reducing the number of squads in the platoon.



I will be home shortly and post.
Thank you!
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
I apologize for not answering the question posed from last night. Some family activities took precedence. I did bring in some books that I believe have the answer. I will post once I have a little time.

t was not similar at all.
Pre-1938 squad had your classic "French" organization of commander and 2 teams - rifle and LMG. Each team had dedicated commander, so in combat squad leader had to deal only with them.
1938 squad had squad leader doubling, as LMG team leader.
Okay, I reread your post and noticed I misunderstood your comment. You are referring to the 1938 organization, not the A.S. 42. My error.

The pre-1938 squad had a comandante, a graduato fuciliere and a graduato capo arma. (Il nuovo manuale del caporale 1936 edition, pp. 424-442 and the diagram on p. 407 is one of several sources on the earlier organization). This is the same as the 1938 squad. The earlier squad had 15 men in the squad, the 1938 had 18 (later 20), and the A.S. 42 had 13. I agree that the 1938 organization of two large squads was clumsier to move and lacked a third element for maneuver. The A.S. 42 squad is the easiest to handle, as each squad is smaller but retained the two f.m. while the return to three squads provided flexibility in maneuver.

Having the two leaders split between the two gruppi is pretty standard in all armies. In the 1938 squad, both the gruppi f. and f.m. had a graduato to provide command/control of the gruppo. The placement of the comandante and vice comandante was determined by which gruppo was more important for that specific maneuver. The comandante was with the gruppo f.m. as controlling the over-watching fires was considered critical to the maneuver.
 
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Eugen Pinak

New Member
The pre-1938 squad had a comandante, a graduato fuciliere and a graduato capo arma. (Il nuovo manuale del caporale 1936 edition, pp. 424-442 and the diagram on p. 407 is one of several sources on the earlier organization). This is the same as the 1938 squad.
No. Pre-1938 squad had squad leader directing only two teams. In 1938 squad squad leader sometimes directed two teams, sometimes two LMG and one team.
BTW, did you managed to find, how many "graduati" were in 1938 rifle squad?


The earlier squad had 15 men in the squad, the 1938 had 18 (later 20), and the A.S. 42 had 13.
Pre-1938 squad had 12 men. AS-42 squad had 11 men.


The A.S. 42 squad is the easiest to handle, as each squad is smaller but retained the two f.m. while the return to three squads provided flexibility in maneuver.
Yes, this organization was way better, than old squad. I wonder, what prevented to change rifle platoon organization in metropolitan units the same way?


Having the two leaders split between the two gruppi is pretty standard in all armies.
Actually, before WW II of major armies of the world only Italy, Germany and France did it. The rest of the major armies at that time preferred unified squad, that was not divided into groups.

In the 1938 squad, both the gruppi f. and f.m. had a graduato to provide command/control of the gruppo. The placement of the comandante and vice comandante was determined by which gruppo was more important for that specific maneuver. The comandante was with the gruppo f.m. as controlling the over-watching fires was considered critical to the maneuver.
Rifle group had two "graduati". How many "graduati" had LMG group, I don't know.
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
BTW, did you managed to find, how many "graduati" were in 1938 rifle squad?
Rifle group had two "graduati". How many "graduati" had LMG group, I don't know.
Alll my sources have two graduati in the gruppo f.m. (one leading each of the Breda 30 teams as the capo arma), and one in the gruppo f. The vice comandante (who could be a graduato o sottufficiale) was with the gruppo f.

Actually, before WW II of major armies of the world only Italy, Germany and France did it. The rest of the major armies at that time preferred unified squad, that was not divided into groups.
The US also used teams that could be maneuver separately.

In 1938 squad squad leader sometimes directed two teams, sometimes two LMG and one team.
This is unclear. The 1938 squad had two f.m. in the gruppo f.m. so he always directed two f.m. He had a graduato leading each f.m.

I haven't found my source on the A.S. 42 until in 1943. I am still looking, but it might be this weekend before I rediscover it.
 
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jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Yes. In addition to what I listed above, I also have been using:

Addestramento della fanteria (1939)
L'addestramento tattico dei minori reparti di fanteria (1937)
Il nuovo manuale del caporale (edition per fanteria ed alpini) (1931)
Il nuovo manuale del caporale (edition per fanteria ed granatieri) (1936)
Manuale per la istruzione elementare del soldato (1940)
Manuale per il graduato (1935)
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Not until 1956.
No. I believe we are becoming entangled in what defines a separate maneuver element. At the squad level, the squad leader controls everything, regardless whether the squad is organized into one, two or three elements. The squad in every army moves as one unit in most situations. The exception is always when in enemy contact. The question is whether the doctrine has the LMG always moving and fighting with the riflemen (the WW1 automatic rifleman), or does the LMG operate separately in certain tactical situations.

In the first case the squad moves as one, when advancing or retreating. Covering/supporting fire is provided by a different unit.

In the second case, the riflemen and LMG sections move separately, with one providing covering/supporting fire for the other. The LMG is set and covers when the riflemen execute the final charge into the enemy position.

To use modern terms, does the platoon bound by squad or bound by sections/teams/gruppi? Understand that units in the second case can bound by either method. Units in the first case are limited by doctrine /training to bound by squad.

The doctrine for using the BAR had it moving as a separate element during the attack. The squad leader would indicate where he wanted to set the base of fire. The rifle section would maneuver separately. The two teams bound separately. The US squad also has two scouts. These men also move separately. The squad leader controls all these sections by orders, but doesn't move with every section. These orders are limited in time (executed within 5-10 minutes) and distance (rarely do sections/teams/gruppi move beyond visual control of the squad leader).

Thank you. Now I finally have clear understanding or squad organization.
No so fast :D

I am working on the bersaglieri and alpini organizations. I know the alpini still used the older squad organization. I am unsure about the bersaglieri. I have some documents that state the bersaglieri and fanteria used the same structure. When looking at actual units, the number of weapons (especially the f.m.) strongly indicate the older organization was still in use. I will post the bersaglieri ciclisti organization soon and open that debate.
 

Dili

Member
What i have:

Squadra Alpini 13 men with 1 FM
Squadra Territoriale 11 men with rifles, 11 men with 2 FM.
Squadra Fucilieri (including Libiche and CCNN) 9 men with rifles, 9 men with 2 FM
Squadra Fucilieri 41 11 men with rifles, 9 men with 2 FM
Squadra Fucilieri AS42 11 men with 2 FM
Squadra CCNN da sbarco(for Malta) - seems to be 10 men but i don't have more detail. Presumably with 1 FM - ? in relibility of this info.
Squadra Bersaglieri Ciclisti - 15 men 1 caposquadra, 1 porta fucile mitragliatore, 1 porta arma tiratore, 4 porta munizioni, 8 fucilieri
Squadra Bersaglieri Motoriz. - 10 men presumably with 1 FM but seems this element has much less support. ? in reliability of this info.
Squadra Bersaglieri Motociclisti- 7 men with 1 FM, some sources also report 6 or 8 men.
Squadra Guastatori(not infantry...)- 12 men(4 bangalore+ 2 flameT)+ 6 men support(1 FM+1 brixia)
Gruppo Esploratori- 13 men with rifles
Gruppo Esploratori Alpini - 16 men with rifles
Squadra Cavalleria -12 men with 1 FM
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Excellent! Great info. Your bersaglieri ciclisti info matches my my thoughts on the older organization.
 

Eugen Pinak

New Member
No. I believe we are becoming entangled in what defines a separate maneuver element. At the squad level, the squad leader controls everything, regardless whether the squad is organized into one, two or three elements. The squad in every army moves as one unit in most situations. The exception is always when in enemy contact. The question is whether the doctrine has the LMG always moving and fighting with the riflemen (the WW1 automatic rifleman), or does the LMG operate separately in certain tactical situations.
My reply was about teams. They appeared in US manuals in 1956. Of course, any two soldiers could support each other.
Also note, that before 1942 US rifle squads had no LMGs at all - only rifles.


The doctrine for using the BAR had it moving as a separate element during the attack. The squad leader would indicate where he wanted to set the base of fire. The rifle section would maneuver separately. The two teams bound separately. The US squad also has two scouts. These men also move separately. The squad leader controls all these sections by orders, but doesn't move with every section.
Both 1942 and 1944 editions of US FM 7-10 describe entirely different tactics. Term "base of fire" hasn't even exist in the manuals.
 
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