Home » National and Libyan Paratrooper Units 1940-41

National and Libyan Paratrooper Units 1940-41

by Jim H

Statistics for the Castel Benito Parachute School

Total jumps: 11,200
Total jump qualified paratroopers graduated: 1,400
Airdrops of material: 1,732
Jump related deaths: 21 (from 1938-1940)

Note that Tarquinia had 18 deaths from 1939 to 1943 so most of the blame is really on the Mod 37 & 39 parachutes.

Last mass jump (115 paratroopers): 24 November 1940

Note: This was a wartime exercise done for the benefit of General Graziani to demonstrate their effectiveness and readiness.

Italian paratrooper training at the Scuola Militare di Paracadutismo at the Tarquinia airport preparing to jump.

Italian paratrooper training at the Scuola Militare di Paracadutismo at the Tarquinia airport preparing to jump.

Organization of Paratrooper Units in Libya at the start of WW2

(From the book Folgore – Storia del Paracadutismo Militare Italiano by Nino Arena):

Libyan Paratrooper Force:

Libyan paratroopers.

Libyan paratroopers.

1. Scuola Paracadutisti della Libya
2. 1 Battalion Libyan Paratroopers
3. 1 Battalion National Paratroopers

1. Parachute School of Libya
18 aircraft of the SM.75 type capable of transporting 40 paratroopers
6 transport aircraft of the SM.81 type

2. Libyan Paratrooper Battalion “Fanti dell’Aria”
Strength: 500 paratroopers

Organization: 4 Companies commanded as follows:

Battalion Commander – Tenente Colonello Tonini
Deputy Commander – Maggiore Ermete Dandini
1st Company – Captain Luigi Sartini
2nd Company – Tenente Ubaldo Fiamingo
3rd Company – Tenente Ugo Rapoccini
4th Company – Tenente Enrico Cirillo

3. National Paratrooper Battalion
Strength: 300 paratroopers
Organization: 4 Companies commanded as follows:

Battalion Commander – Maggiore Arturo Calascibetta
1st Company – Captain Marco Beltramo
2nd Company – Captain Edoardo Calascibetta
3rd Company – Tenente Mino Tripani
4th Company – Tenente Luigi Brachetti

Libyan Paratrooper Battalion

During the first part of January 1941 the battalion was moved to Derna and absorbed the remnants of the Gruppo Pancano and static units assigned to El Fteiah which totalled 370 men, 3 47/32 mm guns, 4 75/27 guns, 12 20mm guns, 4 M11/39 tanks, 1 captured Humber armored car, 22 trucks and 12 motorcycles. The Libyan Battalion amounted to 430 at the time and an additional 50 men from the Parachute School. So, the total force comprised with the new units was 850 men strong and combining the weapons it brought the numbers to 8 47/32mm guns, 8 Fiat M35 machine guns, 30 Breda M30 LMGs, and 12 20mm guns. This new comprised force was renamed Gruppo Mobile Tonini.

Libyan Paratroopers training over Castel Benito.

Libyan Paratroopers training over Castel Benito.

National Paratrooper Battalion

This unit operated separately from the Libyan paratroopers. Initially assigned to Tolemaide, it pulled back to Benghazi where it incorporated into the Pasquale Raggruppamento. The unit then moved to Coefia awaiting new orders.

The Pasquale Raggruppamento became the rearguard for the 10th Army. In contrast to the Tonini paratroopers, a large portion of the National Paratrooper Battalion did manage to escape or evade capture by running the gauntlet of enemy artillery along the coastline. In fact, the National Battalion only suffered 74 casualties among dead, wounded and missing from a total force of 300. The remaining 226 paratroopers who made it back to Italian lines transferred to the Parachute School at Tarquinia.

Article credit James Burd through Italianisti@yahoogroups.com.

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