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Divisional Organizations: Tipo Africa Settentrionale

by Jeff Leser

This article addresses the planned organization of the large Italian ground forces in Africa Settenetrionale (A.S. – North Africa). The information discussed below doesn’t reflect the actual organizations of units at a specific point in time but indicates the standard to which Rome was attempting to equip and maintain its army in A.S. Equipment and personnel shortages, battlefield improvisations, and authorized modifications shaped the units as they entered combat. The information provided here is a starting point in discerning the actual on-the-ground structure of the Regio Esercito in A.S.

Italian armored units in Libya, 1941. Tipo africa settentrionale

Italian armored units in Libya, 1941.

The Army leadership actively attempted to adjust to the realities of combat during the war. While one can argue how active and how successful their efforts were, the army units in A.S. underwent a series of changes to improve their performance. In all cases, these changes were reactive and Italy never gained any sort of superiority/edge based on organization or equipment.

These changes were generated by two factors: the need to increase firepower and mobility; and the need to reduce the size of units. Conditions on the battlefield mandated the former, while Italy’s inability to supply the volume of material required necessitated the latter. The result was that units gained combat effectiveness over time but also became increasingly brittle due to their inability to absorb combat losses. For example, an Italian motorized division had 11,400 men in 1940, in 1942 it had had 5000. With the adoption of the A.S. 42 structure, one could argue that the Regio Esercito had conceded the ability to effectively attack/counterattack on the battlefield in A.S.

In hindsight, the R.E.’s wartime efforts to improve its units can be summed up by stating it was a case of ‘too little, too late’.

Note that the organizations discussed below indicate what was planned, not necessarily what was seen on the battlefield. Shortages of equipment and supplies limited the actual level of motorization in these formations. The information presented is designed to give the researcher an idea of what the unit structures should have been and how the Italian Army attempted to adapt to the realities of the European war. All units began the process of transition to each new TO&E, but the lack of equipment and combat losses normally left the process incomplete.

The Regio Esercito in Africa Settentrionale

Prior to World War II, the Italian Army had developed a series of unit organizations that reflected the strategic requirements of nation; the doctrine, tenets and procedures of the army itself shaped by the strength and weaknesses of Italian society and its economy. Within this organizational design, the army broadly recognized two armies: the metropolitan army that would serve in Europe proper, and a colonial army that would secure Italy’s overseas territories.

The bulk of the oversea forces were stationed in Ethiopia and Libya. In Ethiopia, the Italian military forces were organized as the Forze Armata dell’Africa Orientale Italiana (A.O.I.). This organization was, at its core, a colonial force. The majority of the military forces stationed in Ethiopia (29 brigades) were raised from the local population. These units were supported by two divisions organized by Italian nationals. In Libya, the Italian military forces were organized under the Comando Superiore Forze Armata Africa Settentrionale (A.S). This headquarters controlled two armies; the 5th Armata in Tripolitania facing Tunisia, and the 10th Armata in Cirenaica facing Egypt. Lacking a large indigenous population to create colonial formations, a total of 12 Italian divisions were stationed in the colony in 1940.

Libya presented challenges for the operation of large military forces. The lack of infrastructure (roads, railways, power grid, etc.) made an army totally dependent upon itself. Where pack and draught animals could support military operations in a European setting, the lack of water and forage precluded any large scale employment of animals in Libya. Motorization was the answer, and this was the direction taken by the Italian army in designing the organizations of units serving in Libya. However, the Italian industry and the nation’s finances limited what could be accomplished. Completely motorizing the entire force in Libya, in addition to the vehicles required by the metropolitan army, was beyond Italy’s means.

The North African Army in 1940

Three general types of units comprised the forces under the Comando Superiore Forze Armata Africa Settentrionale (A.S). Indigenous natives comprised the bulk of the forces stationed in A.S. after the First World War, supported by a small number of Italian ‘volunteer’ units and carabinieri. This remained the situation until 1937 when the events set in motion by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia caused the Italian military to increase its forces in Libya. Four new Metropolitan divisions were raised and stationed in Libya, organized into two corps (XX Corpo d’Armata with the Sabratha and Sirte divisions; XXI Corpo d’Armata with the Cirene and Marmarcia divisions). The number of Libyan units was increased at the same time. In 1939, the new plan for the defense of Libya increased the number of divisions needed to 8. When the war began in September 1939, the Italians mobilized and transported four additional divisions to A.S. At the same time, four Militia (Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, commonly known as Blackshirts) divisions were formed using units from Italy and sent south. Additionally, two Libyan divisions were formed in Feb 1940 using existing native units in A.S.

Given the limitations mentioned above, the army compromised and developed a modified divisional organization for use in the desert that could be equipped within Italy’s limited means. This organization was called tipo Africa Settentrionale (tipo A.S.).

The tipo A.S. was basically a standard metropolitan ‘divisione autotrasportabile’ (auto-transportable) organization. The concept was to provide a division better suited to mobile warfare than the divisione fanteria (d.f. – infantry division) within the context of Italy’s natural mountainous frontier. The divisione autotrasportabile (d. at.) was a semi-motorized unit that provided vehicles for the divisional artillery and services component in the place of draught animals [1]. Other differences between the d.f. and d.at. was the latter lacked the legione CC.NN. and possessed a slightly different mix of artillery. No additional transport was provided for the infantry component; the division remained a foot-mobile infantry formation. The concept was that the corps autogruppo would provide any additional vehicles when needed to rapidly move the division, but the autogruppo could not transport the entire corps at any one time.

The divisione autotrasportabile tipo A.S. had limited manning and equipment changes from the divisione autotrasportabile to better meet the requirements of desert operations. It added a compagnia motociclisti (motorcycle company) for movement control, a battaglione carri L (light tank battalion) for reconnaissance and security, a battaglione complementi for replacements, and replaced the battaglione mortari (mortar battalion) with a battaglione mitraglieri (machinegun battalion). Firepower was slightly increased due to a higher allocation of automatic weapons (262 Breda 30 fucile mitragliatori instead of 220 found in a metropolitan d. at.). The tipo A.S. variation of the divisione autotrasportabile also increased the number of vehicles in the supply services, but still left the infantry on foot [2]. The corps autogruppo (transportation group) A.S. was also to be increased in size to provide additional truck support for desert operations.

Note that no divisoni corazzata (armored divisions), divisioni motorizzata (motorized divisions) or divisione fanteria were stationed in A.S. in 1940.

When Italy declared war on 10 June 1940, the following corps and divisions were stationed in A.S.:

CA: X, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII
D. at. tipo A.S.: Bologna, Brescia, Cirene, Catanzaro [3], Marmarcia, Pavia, Sabratha, Savona, Sirte.
D. cc.nn.: 3 Gennaio, 23 Marzo, 28 Ottobre.
D. lib: 1° and 2°.

Divisione di fanteria autotrasportabile tipo A.S. (d. at.) [4]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Quartermaster General)

Two Infantry Regiments (regg. fanteria)
Each regiment consists of:
Compagnia Comando (Regimental Command Company)
Compagnia mortai (Mortar Company)
-Three plotoni of two sezioni each (6 x 81mm mortars)
Batteria d’accomagnmento (Infantry Support Battery) (4 x 65/17mm infantry support guns) [5]
Three battaglioni fanteria (infantry battalions), each consisting of:
-Three compagnia fanteria (infantry companies) each with:
—Plotone comando (Command platoon)
—Three platoni fucilieri (rifle platoons). Each platoon has:
——Two squadre fucilieri (rifle squads), each with:
———Gruppo fucile (rifle group, 11 men);
———Gruppo fucili mitragliatori (light machinegun group with 9 men and two Breda 30 f.m.).
-One compagnia armi d’accompagnmento (Weapons company).
—Plotone Comando (Command platoon)
—Two platoni mitragliatrici (heavy machinegun platoons) each with:
——Two squadre mitragliatici (machinegun squads) with 2 heavy machineguns each;
—Two platoni mortai d’assalto (assault mortar platoons) each with:
——Three squadre moprtai d’assalto each with three 45mm Brixia mortars)

Divisional Machinegun Battalion (btg. mitraglieri)
Six companies of 12 heavy machineguns each.

Divisional Anti-tank Company (cp. cannoni controcarro) (8 x 47/32 anti-tank guns)

Divisional Light Tank Battalion (btg. carri leggeri) (46 Light Tanks) [6]
Comando battaglione (Battalion Command group) (1 L tank)
Three compagnia carri leggeri (light tank companies) each with:
-One platone commando (Command Platoon) (1 L tank and 2 L tanks in reserve)
-Three platoni carri L (Light tank platoons) each with 4 L tanks.

Motorcycle Company (cp. motociclisti) [7]
Platone commando (command platoon)  23 men
3 platoni motociclisti (Motorcycle Platoons) each with:
-4 squads (6 men) with one fucile mitragliatore (Breda 30) each
-1 Motor-machinegun Platoon of 4 squads each with 9 men with one heavy MG (Breda 37)
Total: 28 motorcycles, 44 motorcycles with sidecar, 9 trailers, 4 small trucks, 2 radios, 133 men

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns) [8]
One group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Construction Engineer (artieri) [9] Company with three engineer platoons
One Signal (Communications) Company:
-Two Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon;
-Company Field Park

Divisional Replacement Battalion (btg. complementi) [10]

Services (Servizi)
One Medial section (sezione di sanità)
One Supply Section (sezione di sussistenza)
One Mixed Transport Section (autosezione mista)

Totals: 453 Officers; 594 NCOs; 9,931 soldiers. 9,025 rifles and carbines; 262 light machine guns; 232 heavy machine guns; 111 – 45mm mortars; 12 – 81mm mortars; 16 – 20/35 c.a.; 8 – 47/32 c.c.; 8 – 65/17; 24 – 75/27 guns; 12 – 105/17 howitzers; 46 light tanks; 398 light cars/trucks; 249 motorcycles/motorbikes; 36 tractors; 180 bicycles

Militia Division (Divisione di Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale – MVSN)(d. cc.nn.) [11]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Quartermaster General)

Two Infantry Legions (legioni fanteria) [12]
Each legion consists of:
Compagnia Comando (Regimental Command Company)
Compagnia mortai (Mortar Company) (9 x 81mm mortars)
Batteria d’accomagnmento (Infantry Support Battery) (4 x 65/17mm infantry support guns)
Three coorte fucilieri (infantry battalions), each consisting of:
– Plotone esploratori (Reconnaissance Platoon)
-Three centuria fanteria (infantry companies) each with:
—Plotone comando (Command platoon)
—Three manipolo fucilieri (rifle platoons). Each platoon has:
——Two squadra fucilieri (rifle squads), each with:
———Gruppo fucile (rifle group, 11 men);
———Gruppo fucili mitragliatori (light machinegun group with 9 men and two Breda 30 f.m.).
-One compagnia armi d’accompagnmento (Weapons company).
—Plotone Comando (Command platoon)
—Two platoni mitragliatrici (heavy machinegun platoons) each with:
——Two squadre mitragliatici (machinegun squads) with 2 heavy machineguns each;
—One/two [13] platoni mortai d’assalto (assault mortar platoons) each with:
——Three squadre mortai d’assalto each with three 45mm Brixia mortars)

Divisional Machinegun Battalion (btg. mitraglieri)
Three companies of 12 heavy machineguns each.

Divisional Anti-tank Company (cp. cannoni controcarro) (8 x 47/32 anti-tank guns)

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
One group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons
One Signal (Communications) Company:
-Two Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon;
-Company Field Park.

Services (Servizi)
One Medial section (sezione di sanità)
One Supply Section (sezione di sussistenza)
One Mixed Transport Section (autosezione mista)

Initially four militia divisions were raised in the fall of 1939, 1° divisione Camicie Nere « XXIII Marzo » 2° divisione Camicie Nere « XXVIII Ottobre » ; 3° divisione Camicie Nere « XXI Aprile » ; 4° divisione Camicie Nere « III Gennaio » . The 3° Division was disbanded in 1940 and used to form the 64° divisione Cantanzaro.

Libyan Division (Divisione Libica) [14]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Quartermaster General)

Two Libyan Infantry Groups (raggruppamento di fanteria libica) [15]
Each group consists of:
Compagnia comando
Three battaglioni fanteria libiche (infantry battalions), each consisting of:
-Comando e armi d’accompagnmento (Command and Weapons Company)
—Plotone mitragliatici with:
——Three squadre mitragliatici with one heavy machine gun each
—Plotone cannoni (gun platoon)
——Two sezioni cannoni with one 47/32 c.c. each.
-Three compagnia fucilieri libiche (infantry companies) each with:
—Comando plotone (command platoon)
—three plotoni fucilieri (infantry platoons).
——Squada commando
——two buluc (squads);
———Gruppo fucile (rifle group, 9 men)
———Gruppo fucili mitragliatori (light machinegun group with 5 men and one Breda 30 f.m.)

Divisional Anti-tank Company (cp. cannoni controcarro) (8 x 47/32 anti-tank guns)

Divisional Artillery (raggruppamento di artigleria)
Two groups of 75/28 (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)

Libyan Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio Libica)
Battalion Command Group
One Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons
One Signal (Communications) Company:
-Two Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon;
-Company Field Park

Services (Servizi)
One Medial section (sezione di sanità)
One Supply Section (sezione di sussistenza)
One Mixed Transport Section (autosezione mista)

237 Officers; 174 NCOs; 460 Italian military, 6,353 Libyan soldiers. 216 light machineguns; 66 heavy machineguns; 16 – 20/35 c.a.; 8 – 47/32 c.c.; 24 – 75/28 guns

Corpo d’Armata in Libia [16]

Armor Battalion (battaglione carry) [17]

Motorcycle Company (compagnia motociclisti)
Plotone comando  23 men
3 Plotoni moto of 4 squadre cd. (6 men) with one fucile mitragliatore (Breda 30) each
1 Plotone moto of 4 squadre with 9 men with one heavy MG (Breda 37)
Total: 28 motorcycles, 44 motorcycles with side car, 9 trailers, 4 small trucks, 2 radios, 133 men

Corps Artillery Group (Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo Armata)
Group Command
2 groups of 105/28 guns (of three batteries of 4 guns each)
1 group of 75/27 guns (of three batteries of 4 guns each)
1 group of 75/27 C.K. (of three batteries of 4 guns each)
2 batteries of 20/35 c.a. (8 guns each)

Special Engineer Battalion (btg. special artieri)
Combat Engineer Battalion (Battaglione Genio Artieri)
Radio and Telegraph Battalion (Battaglione Telegrafisti e Radiotelegrafisti)
Compagnia Genio Fotoelettricisti

Communications Battalion (btg. collegamenti)
One Mixed Liaison, Telegraph, and Radio Company

One Chemical Company (compagnia chimica)

Services (Servizi)
One Medical Section
One Field Hospital
Two-three Surgical Detachments
One Disinfectant Section
One X-ray Truck
One Dental Truck
One Bonifica Section (decontamination)
One Sustain Section
One Mixed Truck Unit
One Truck Group

Mixed Transportation Group (autogruppo misto)
Command Group
One Light Truck Section
One Mixed Heavy Fuel Truck Section
One ambulance section

Results of the Italian Losses November 01-February 41

The Italian defeat inflicted by the British Western Desert Force initiated a series of studies by Comando Supremo to modernize Italian units serving in A.S. to better meet the conditions of mobile warfare. The main changes were the elimination of one infantry battalion in the regiments, which was replaced by a btg. d’accompagnmento e controcarro (support weapons and anti-tank). This increased firepower while providing an overall decrease in personnel, which in turn decreased the number of trucks needed to move the unit. However, this was not a motorized division and still required additional vehicles from the corps autogruppo to move the entire unit.

Proposed Infantry Division [18]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Headquarters)

Reconnaissance Detachment

Two infantry regiments (regg. di fanteria)
Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Group
Two infantry battalions
One battaglione armi d’accompagnmento e controcarro consisting of:

Divisional Support Weapons battalion (btg. armi di accompagnmento divisions) [19]

Divisional Artillery Regiment (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
One group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)

Services (Servizi)

Totals: 6,000 men; 9,025 rifles and carbines; 141 heavy and light machineguns; 40 anti-tank rifles (20mm); 24 – 81mm mortars; 40 – 20/35 c.a.; 56 – 47/32 c.c.; 24 – 75/27 guns; 12 – 105/17 howitzers; 650 trucks.

Reinforcing Africa Settentrionale

The arrival of the divisione corazzata Ariete and the divisone motorizzata Trento in January-March at Tripoli introduced the first Italian armored and motorized divisions to Africa Settenrionale [20]. These units maintained their metropolitan organization and were not modified for A.S. However Ariete and several of the d. at. tipo A.S. did receive additional German 37/40 anti-tank guns (Bologna, Brescia, and Pavia) and Scharwlose and Hotchkiss machine guns to increase firepower. Because of the shortage of M13/40 medium tanks, the Ariete arrived in A.S. with three light tank battalions, and only one medium tank battalion (the personnel for a second battaglione carri M were present but the vehicles had not been shipped). Units were brought up to the authorized organization whenever the personnel and equipment were available. During the summer, the d. moto. Trieste arrived in A.S.

Divisione corazzata (armored division) [21]

Division command (comando di divisions): [22]
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Headquarters)

Tank Regiment (reggimento carri)
Each regiment consists of:
Compagnia Comando (Command Company)
Four battaglione corazzata (armor battalions), each with: four companies:
-Command company (with 1 light tank);
-Three tank companies, each with:
—One command tank
—Three tank platoons (5 tanks each)

Bersaglieri Regiment (regg. bersaglieri) Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Group
Anti-Tank Company (compagnia controcarro)(6 x 47/32 guns)
Autoreparto
Two bersaglieri battalions, each consisting of:
-Command Company
—Command Platoon (Supply and Transport Squads);
—Signal Platoon (Radio/Telephone Squad, Heliograph Squad).
—Reconnaissance Platoon (with three reconnaissance squads).
—Two bersaglieri companies:
——One command squad;
——Three bersaglieri platoons (with 2 squads).
—One machinegun platoon (four heavy machineguns).
One bersaglieri motorcycle battalion:
-Comando compagnia.
-Three motorcycle companies each with:
—Platoon command 23 men;
—3 Motorcycle Platoons of 4 squads (6 men) with one light MG (Breda 30);
—1 Motor-machinegun Platoon of 4 squads with 9 men with one heavy MG (Breda 37).

Three Anti-tank Companies (each with 8 x 47/32 c.c. guns) [23]

Divisional Artillery Regiment (regg. di artigleria)(planned)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27 (each with three batteries of 4 guns)

Mixed Truck Group (autoreparto misto)

Services (servizi)

Totals: 7,439 men; 5,102 rifles and carbines; 410 heavy and 76 light machineguns; 40 anti-tank rifles (20mm); 24 – 81mm mortars; 16 – 20/35 c.a.; 37 – 37/45 c.c.; 8 – 47/32 c.c.; 24 – 75/27 guns; 581 vehicles, 1.170 trucks, 48 artillery tractors, and 39 bicycles.

Divisione motorizzata (motorized division) [24]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Headquarters)

Two Motorized Infantry Regiments (regg. fanteria autoportata)
Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Company
Mortar Company (compagnia mortari)(6 x 81mm mortars)
Anti-Tank Company (compagnia controcarro)(8 x 47/32 guns)
Autoreporto
Two motorized infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Three infantry companies each with:
—Command platoon;
—Three infantry platoons each with.
——Three squads (squadra), each with:
———Gruppo fucile (rifle group, 11 men)
———Gruppo fucili mitragliatori (light machinegun group with 9 men and two Breda 30 f.m.) –-One compagnia armi d’accompagnmento
—Command platoon,
—Two mitraglieri (heavy machinegun) platoons (two squads with 2 heavy machineguns each)
—Two assault mortar platoons (three squads with three 45mm Brixia mortars each)

Bersaglieri Regiment (regg. bersaglieri)
Each regiment consists of:
-Regimental Command Group
-Anti-Tank Company (compagnia controcarro)(8 x 47/32 guns)
-Autoreparto
-Two bersaglieri battalions, each consisting of:
–Command Company
–Command Platoon (Supply and Transport Squads);
–Signal Platoon (Radio/Telephone Squad, Heliograph Squad );
–Reconnaissance Platoon (with three reconnaissance squads)
–Two bersaglieri companies:
—-One command squad;
—-Three bersaglieri platoons (with 2 squads);
—-One machinegun platoon (four heavy machineguns);
—-One anti-tank section (three 37/45 c.c.).
–One company armi d’accompagnmento
—-One command platoon;
—-Two heavy machinegun platoons (two squads with 2  heavy machineguns each)
—-Two assault mortar platoons (three squads with three 45mm Brixia mortars each)
One bersaglieri motorcycle battalion;
-three motorcycle companies:
–Platoon command 23 men
–3 Motorcycle Platoons of 4 squads (6 men) with one light MG (Breda 30) each
–1 Motor-machinegun Platoon of 4 squads with 9 men with one heavy MG (Breda 37)

Divisional Machinegun Battalion (btg. mitraglieri)
Three companies of 12 heavy machineguns each.

Divisional Artillery Regiment (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
One group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Construction Engineer (artieri)
Company with three engineer platoons
One Signal (Communications) Company:
Two Telephone Line Platoons; One Radio Platoon, Company Field Park

Services (Servizi)
One Medial section (sezione di sanità)
One Supply Section (sezione di sussistenza) with a squadra panettieri (baker squad)
One Mixed Transport Section (autosezione mista)

Totals: 10,500 men; 90 heavy and 168 light machineguns; 56 – 45mm mortars; 40 anti-tank rifles (20mm); 12 – 81mm mortars; 16 – 20/35 c.a.; 24 – 47/32 c.c.; 24 – 75/27 guns; 12 – 105/17 howitzers; 531 automezzi, 1,170 motomezzi, 48 trattori.

1941 Reorganization

The losses suffered by the Italian Army during the British winter offensive (Operation Compass) between November 1940 and February 1941 demonstrated that the A.S. divisional organizations had significant weaknesses. The main problem was the lack of organic transportation within the Italian formations. The limited mobility of their units, adequate in Ethiopia, left them at the mercy of the fully motorized British forces. A second weakness was becoming apparent during this same period: the lack of firepower. However, in the initial assessment of Compass, the firepower issue was hidden by the mobility problem and the Comando Supremo’s first efforts were to correct the latter shortcoming.

In May 1941, the Royal Army Stato Maggiore assessed the requirements for the reconquest of A.S. Part of this assessment involved current unit organizations and availability of equipment. The divisione di fanteria autotrasportabile tipo A.S. was basically eliminated. In its place, the infantry divisions were divided into two types, divisione motorizzata tipo A.S. and divisione occupazione. This structure recognized that the Italian forces in A.S. required a fully motorized force, but Italy lacked the resources to equip all the divisions currently in A.S. Additionally, the divisione corazzata was redesigned, but this change affected all Italian armored divisions regardless of the theater, so is not A.S. specific (this change reflected the availability of the M13 medium tanks and lessons learned). Also, note that only the divisione corazzata was authorized a bersaglieri regiment. The bersaglieri units traditionally associated with the divisione motorizzata now become corps assets.

The following units were planned: [25]
Divione corazzata (D. cor.): Ariete,
Divisone motorizzata (D. mot.): Pavia, Bologna, Trento, Trieste, Savona, Brescia, and Piave.
Divisione di occupazione (D. occ.): Sabratha, Pistola. There was a discussion of creating two additional divisions using Guardia alla Frontiera and other units.

Achieving this plan proved to be beyond the resources of the Italian nation. In June 1941, the Comando Supremo assessed the required material to complete the plan [26]. The first priority was to transition the X Army Corps: D. cor. Ariete and the D. mot. Trento, Pavia, and Bologna. The required personnel and material was: 50,000 men, 6,500 motor vehicles of various sizes/types, and 125 guns of various types. The second priority was to transition the XX Army Corps: D. mot. Brescia and Savona, and the D. occ. Sabratha. These units required an additional 5,000 men and 2,500 vehicles.

None of this plan was completed. Shipping limitations (Trieste and numerous anti-aircraft batteries competed for shipping with the additional personnel and equipment for the new structure [27]) and the battles in the summer, fall, and winter of 1941 prevented the full execution of these changes. Of the first priority units, the Pavia and Bologna had started the conversion but were incomplete at the start of the British Crusader offense [28]. Due to the lack of trucks, Trento kept its bersaglieri regiment. Of the second priority units, there is no evidence that Bresica, Savona, and Sabratha had begun the conversion [30]. In fact, Brescia was ordered in July to maintain its infantry division structure [31]. In another twist, Montanari states in his conclusion in volume II that Bresica and Savona were ordered to assume the organizational structure of a « divisione di occupazione » ‘as soon as possible’ [32]. I have not found any other reference to this order, so I can’t determine if this was true when it was ordered, and what situation likely triggered this change to the plan.

Divisione corazzata A.S. [33]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Headquarters)
Movement Control Detachment

Reconnaissance Battalion (btg. autoblindo)
Battalion Command Group
Two Reconnaissance Companies
(47 Autoblindo 41)

Two maneuver brigades (each with an armor and bersaglieri regiment, and an anti-armor/antiaircraft battalion) [34]
Reggimento carri media [35]
Each regiment consists of:
-Compagnia Comando (Command Company)
—Regimental command group (11 medium tanks)
—Command Company with a command tank, liaison platoon (6 radio tanks) and three reserve platoons (5 medium tanks each)
-Three medium armor battalions, each with:
—Command company (with 1 command tank and a reserve platoon of three medium tanks)
—Three medium tank companies each with:
——One command tank
——Three tank platoons each with 5 medium tanks each)
—One anti-aircraft company (eight 20mm c.a.)
—Recovery and maintenance unit

Bersaglieri Regiment (regg. bersaglieri)
Each regiment consists of:
-Regimental Command Group
-One bersaglieri motorcycle company
-Two bersaglieri battalions, each consisting of:
—Command Company with:
——Command Platoon (Supply and Transport Squads);
——Signal Platoon (Radio/Telephone Squad, Heliograph Squad );
——Reconnaissance Platoon (with three reconnaissance squads)
—Two bersaglieri companies, each consisting of:
——One command squad;
——three bersaglieri platoons (with 2 squads);
——One machinegun platoon (four heavy machineguns);
—One anti-tank company with:
——-Four sections (four 47/32 c.c.).
-Battaglione armi accompagnmento e controcarri:
—One command platoon;
—Two mortar companies
—One anti-aircraft company with:
——Four section each with two 20mm c.a.

Battaglione armi accompagnmento e controcarri
One command platoon;
One anti-tank company with eight 47/32 c.c.
One anti-aircraft company with eight 20mm c.a.

Divisional Artillery Regiment (regg. di artigleria) (planned) [36]
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of semoventi da 75/18 (20 semoventi)
Two groups of 105/28 (each with three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of 90/53 c.c (each with two batteries of 4 guns, and two batteries of eight 20/35 c.a.)

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons
One Liaison (Communications) Company: Two Telephone Line Platoons; One Radio Platoon, one Company Field Park

Medical Section (10 light trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)
Sustainment Section (5 trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)

Divisional Transportation Group
Command Group
One Truck Group with four Light Truck Sections
One Mixed Truck Group:
Two Light Truck Sections; Two Heavy Truck Section; Two Heavy Petrol sections

NOTE: This organization was never fully implemented due to the lack of equipment. Ariete was organized with one medium and one light tank regiment, one bersaglieri regiment, one artillery regiment (with two gruppi of 75/27, one gruppi 100/17, and one gruppi 47/32 c.c.), one mixed gruppi of c.a., and one mixed engineer battalion.

Divisione motorizzata A.S. [37]

Division command (comando di divisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier Generale (Headquarters)
Movement Control Section

Cp Motorcictisti ?

Two infantry Regiments (regg. di fanteria) tipo A.S.
Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Group
Two infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Three infantry companies;
—Three infantry platoons;
—One machinegun platoon (4 heavy machineguns)
-One compagnia armi d’accompagnmento e controcarro with:
—One machinegun platoon (four heavy machineguns);
—One anti-tank platoon (four 47/32 c.c.).
One battaglione armi d’accompagnmento e controcarro consisting of: [38]
-Command company;
-One mortar company (nine 81mm mortars);
-One anti-tank company (eight 47/32 cannoni c.c);
-One anti-aircraft company (eight 20/35 c.a.).

Anti-tank and support battalion (btg. armi controcarro ed accompagnmento divisions) [39]
Command Company
One mortar company (with nine 81mm mortars)
One anti-tank company (with eight 47/32 cannoni c.c.)
One anti-aircraft company (eight 20/35 c.a.).

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
One group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
One anti-tank battery (six 47/32 cannoni c.c.)
One group anti-aircraft (three batteries of eight 20/35 cannoni c.a. each) [40]

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons
One Liaison (Communications) Company: Two Telephone Line Platoons; One Radio Platoon, Company Field Park

Medical Section (10 light trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)
Sustainment Section (5 trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)

Divisione occupazione A.S. [41]

Division command (comando di dvisione):
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier General (Quartermaster General)

Two Infantry Regiments (regg. fanteria) [42]
Compagnia Comando (Regimental Command Company)
Compagnia mortai (Mortar Company) (9 x 81mm mortars)
Batteria d’accomagnmento (Infantry Support Battery) (4 x 65/17mm infantry support guns)
Three battaglioni fanteria (infantry battalions), each consisting of:
-Three compagnia fanteria (infantry companies) each with:
—Plotone comando (Command platoon)
—Three platoni fucilieri (rifle platoons). Each platoon has:
——Two squadra fucilieri (rifle squads), each with:
———Gruppo fucile (rifle group, 11 men);
———Gruppo fucili mitragliatori (light machinegun group with 9 men and two Breda 30 f.m.).
-One compagnia armi d’accompagnmento (Weapons company).
—Plotone Comando (Command platoon)
—Two platoni mitragliatrici (heavy machinegun platoons) each with:
——Two squadre mitragliatici (machinegun squads) with 2 heavy machineguns each;
—Two platoni mortai d’assalto (assault mortar platoons) each with:
——Three squadre moprtai d’assalto each with three 45mm Brixia mortars)

Divisional Machinegun Battalion (btg. mitraglieri)
Three companies of 12 heavy machineguns each.

Divisional Anti-tank Battalion (btg. cannoni controcarro)
Command company
Three batteries (each with 6 x 47/32 anti-tank guns)

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 100/17 (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of 75/27-06 (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
One group anti-aircraft (two batteries of eight 20/35 cannoni c.a. each) [43]

Engineer Battalion (btg. genio)
Battalion Command Group
Two Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons

Medical Section
Sustainment Section

Bersaglieri Regiment (regg. bersaglieri) tipo A.S. [44]
Each regiment consists of:
-Regimental Command Group
-One compagnia motociclisti
-Two battaglione bersgalieri autoportati (motorized bersaglieri battalions), each consisting of:
—Command Company with:
——Command Platoon (Supply and Transport Squads);
——Signal Platoon (Radio/Telephone Squad, Heliograph Squad );
——Reconnaissance Platoon (with three reconnaissance squads)
—Two bersaglieri companies, each consisting of:
——One squadra comando (command squad);
——three bersaglieri platoons (with 2 squads);
——One machinegun platoon (four heavy machineguns);
—One anti-tank company with:
——-Four platoons (Two 47/32 c.c. each).
-Battaglione armi accompagnmento e controcarri:
—One command platoon;
—Two mortar companies
—One anti-aircraft company with:
——Four section each with two 20mm c.a.

1942 Reorganization

1940 and 1941 saw the Italian military involved in combat operations in France, Greece, Albania, and North Africa. By early 1941, these campaigns had resulted in a significant loss of material that Italian industry was unable to rapidly replace. Simultaneously, the Italian senior leadership recognized that the pre-war organizations were in inadequate for modern maneuver warfare. In September 1941, the Comando Superiore Forzes Armata A.S. began examining options to increase the combat power of Italian formations in North Africa, yet at the same time reducing them in size so to be easier to equip and support. The losses suffered by the retreating Axis forces during Operation Crusader in November-December 1941 provided a window of opportunity to affect yet another reorganization of the divisions. The Comando Superiore Forzes Armata A.S. on 2 January 1942 issued instructions for the reorganization of all Italian Divisions in North Africa as tipo A.S. 42 series divisions.

The significant change in the organizations was the creation of combined arms platoons. Support weapons were decentralized to the platoon level, while the infantry element was reduced. The provision of automatic weapons created units that were smaller, yet reflected an increase in firepower. Because of the losses in Nov-Dec 1941, the transition was planned for two phases [45].

The first phase was to reorganize the units using existing assets in Africa. Regiments would initially reorganize with only two battalions; battalions would reorganize with only two companies.

The second phase would bring the divisions up to the tipo A.S. 42 standard using reinforcements and replacements from Italy. The reality was none of the units were completed, losses both in transport from Italy and combat losses in Africa precluded the completion of the A.S. 42 reorganization.

Divisione di fanteria A.S. 42 [46]

Comando di divisione:
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier General (Quartermaster General)

Two infantry Regiments (regg. fanteria)
Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Company
Mortar Company (9 x 81mm mortars)
Three infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Four infantry companies, each with:
—One command squad;
—One infantry platoon (with 3 squads);
—One machinegun platoon (3 x 8mm MG);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 20mm Solothurn or 25mm A.T. Hotchkiss c.c. weapons);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 47/32 A.T. guns)
Total for each company is 5 officers; 13 NCOs; and 111 soldiers. Weapons are 6 x Breda 30; 3 x Breda 37; 3 x 20mm Solothurn c.c. (or 3 x 25mm Hotchkiss c.c. guns); 3 x 47/32 c.c.
Transportation Section: 16 light trucks; 40 heavy trucks.

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
One group of 88/52 c.c. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)
190 Trucks of various sizes.

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Special Combat Engineer (speciali artieri) Company:
-One Combat Engineer (artieri) Platoon;
-One Water Distribution (idrici) Platoon;
-One Obstacle/ Barrier (pl. di arresto) Platoon.
-Company Field Park (Parco di compagnia).
One Liaison (Communications) Company:
-Three Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon.
-Company Field Park

Medical Section
Sustainment Section

Divisione motorizzata A.S. 42 [47]

Comando di divisione:
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier General (Quartermaster General)
Movement Control Section

Reconnaissance Battalion (btg. autoblindo)
Battalion Command Group
Two Reconnaissance Companies

Tank Battalion (btg. carri)
Battalion Command Group
Three tank Companies

Two infantry Regiments (regg. di fanteria)
Each regiment consists of:
Regimental Command Company
Mortar Company (9 x 81mm mortars)
Three infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Four infantry companies, each with:
—One command squad;
—One infantry platoon (with 3 squads);
—One machinegun platoon (3 x 8mm MG);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 20mm Solothurn or 25mm A.T. Hotchkiss c.c. weapons);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 47/32 A.T. guns)
Total for each company is 5 officers; 13 NCOs; and 111 soldiers. Weapons are 6 x Breda 30; 3 x Breda 37; 3 x 20mm Solothurn c.c. (or 3 x 25mm Hotchkiss c.c. guns); 3 x 47/32 c.c.
Transportation Section: 16 light trucks; 40 heavy trucks. 4 and ½ Light truck sections and ½ heavy truck sections are needed in addition to transport each regiment. The heavy trucks are for the 81mm mortars. These sections are in the Divisional Transportation Group.

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
One group of 88/52 c.c. (three batteries of 4 guns)
Two group of 100/17 Mod. 14 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two batteries of 20mm Mod. 35 (each with 8 guns)
[1 and ½ light truck sections are needed to transport the personnel, baggage, and equipment.]

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Special Combat Engineer (speciali artieri) Company:
-One Combat Engineer (artieri) Platoon;
-One Water Distribution (idrici) Platoon;
-One Obstacle/ Barrier (pl. di arresto) Platoon.
-Company Field Park (Parco di compagnia).
One Liaison (Communications) Company:
-Two Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon.
-Company Field Park

Medical Section (10 light trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)

Sustainment Section (5 trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)

Divisional Transportation Group
Command Group
Two Truck Groups: Each with Five Light Truck Sections
One Mixed Truck Group:
-Three Light Truck Sections;
-1 Heavy Truck Section;
-One Heavy Petrol Group
Total 69 Heavy Trucks, 314 Light Trucks, 3 Heavy Shop Vans

Divisione corazzata A.S. 42 [48]

Comando di divisione:
Comando (Command Group)
Stato Maggiore (General staff)
Quartier General (Quartermaster General)
Movement Control Detachment

Reconnaissance Battalion (btg. autoblindo)
Battalion Command Group
Two Reconnaissance Companies (47 autoblindo 41)

Self-Propelled Anti-tank Battalion (btg. semoventi da 47/32) (19 semoventi da 47/32)

Reggimento carri media [49]
Each regiment consists of:
Compagnia Comando (Command Company) with a command tank, liaison platoon (6 radio tanks) and three reserve platoons (9 medium tanks each)
Three medium armor battalions, each with three companies [50]:
-Command company (with 4 command tanks)
-Three medium tank companies (each with one command tank and three tank platoons of 5 medium tanks each)
One anti-aircraft company (eight 20mm c.a.)
Recovery and maintenance unit

Bersaglieri Regiment (reggimento bersaglieri)
Regimental Command Company
Two infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Three infantry companies, each with:
—One command squad;
—One infantry platoon (with 3 squads);
—One machinegun platoon (3 x 8mm MG);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 20mm Solothurn or 25mm A.T. Hotchkiss c.c. weapons);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 47/32 A.T. guns)
Anti-Tank Battalion with
-Three compagnia controcarri (c.c.) di 47/32 each with eight 47/32 c.c.
Transportation Section: 16 light trucks; 40 heavy trucks.

Divisional Artillery (regg. di artigleria)
Regimental Command Group
Two groups of 75/27-06 T.M. (each group of three batteries of 4 guns)
Two groups of semoventi da 75/18 (20 semoventi)
One group of 105/28 (two batteries of 4 guns and one section of 20mm mod. 35)
One group of 90/53 c.c (two batteries of 4 guns, and two batteries of 8 20mm Mod. 35 each)
[1 and ½ light truck sections are needed to transport the personnel, baggage, and equipment.]

Mixed Engineer Battalion (btg. misto del genio)
Battalion Command Group
One Combat Engineer (artieri) Company with three engineer platoons
One Liaison (Communications) Company:
-Two Telephone Line Platoons;
-One Radio Platoon,
-Company Field Park

Medical Section (10 light trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)
Sustainment Section (5 trucks from the Divisional Transportation Group are needed to move the unit)

Divisional Transportation Group
Command Group
One Truck Group with four Light Truck Sections
One Mixed Truck Group:
Two Light Truck Sections; Two Heavy Truck Section; Two Heavy Petrol sections

Corpo d’Armata

Bersaglieri Regiment (reggimento bersaglieri) [51]
Regimental Command Company
Two infantry battalions, each consisting of:
-Three infantry companies, each with:
—One command squad;
—One infantry platoon (with 3 squads);
—One machinegun platoon (3 x 8mm MG);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 20mm Solothurn or 25mm A.T. Hotchkiss c.c. weapons);
—One A.T. platoon (3 x 47/32 A.T. guns)

Corps Artillery Regiment (reggimento artiglieria) [52]
Regimental command Comando
3 groups of 105/28 guns (of three batteries of 4 guns each)

Engineer Battalion (btg. genio artieri)
Battalion Command Group
Two Special Combat Engineer (speciali artieri) Company each with:
-One Combat Engineer (artieri) Platoon;
-One Water Distribution (idrici) Platoon;
-One Obstacle/ Barrier (pl. di arresto) Platoon;
-Company Field Park (parco di compagnia).

Communications Battalion (btg. collegamenti)
One Telephone Line Company
One Radio Company

Corps Sustainment Detachment (nucleo di sezione sussistenza per corpo armata)

Mixed Transportation Group
Command Group
One Light Truck Section
One Mixed Heavy Fuel Truck Section
One ambulance section

Endnotes

[1] L’esercito italiano tra la 1a e 2a Guerra mondiale (novembre 1918 – giugno 1940) allegato 52 and 55.

[2] Ibid

[3] D. at. tipo A.S. Catanzano was raised in May 1940 by using elements of the disbanded d. cc.nn. 21 Aprile and other elements in A.S. ibid p. 185-186

[4] This organization is primarily taken from La Preparazione al conflicto l’avavzata su Sidi el Barrani fn. 1 on page 61; l’esercito italiano tra la 1° e la 2° Guerra Mondiale 184-5; and Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. 1 Sidi el Barrani page 47 and allegato 48 (pages 596-601); Brief Notes on the Italian Army August 1942 pages 44-51; Handbook on the Italian Military Forces 1943 Chapter 3.

[5] The cannoni da 65/17 was being replaced by the controcarro da 47/32. Shortages of the 47/32 c.c. throughout the R.E. meant many units were still equipped with the 65/17. The cannoni da 65/17 would remain a useful weapon in WW2 and remain in service till the end of the war.

[6] There are various organizations given for Italian tank battalions. This organization is from Gli autoveicolia da combattimento dell’esercito Italiano volume secondo page XXXX.

[7] Niehorster states none of these companies were formed, but no source is provided (see World War II Armed Forces website at http://niehorster.orbat.com/019_italy/40_organ/div_autotrans_40as.gif. Bersaglieri states that the company has three platoons of four sections. Brief Notes has several different organizations based on the unit of assignment. Given this is an independent company, I have used the organization from fiammercremisi and brief Notes page 54.

[8] La Preparazione al conflicto l’avavzata su Sidi el Barrani states three gruppi of 75/27 guns (fn 1, page 61). All other sources list only two gruppi, the same as all the other divisional artillery regiments. Two gruppi is reflected here.

[9] The Artieri were qualified construction engineers able to execute stonework, brickwork, grading, fortifications, etc. (i.e. bridges, road embankments, buildings, etc). As such they are not combat engineers in training and equipment.

[10] Niehorster translates this as reserve, but that is incorrect. Because these divisions units were stationed away from their depots in Italy, each division had a replacement battalion to perform the depot function.

[11] This organization is primarily taken from La Preparazione al conflicto l’avavzata su Sidi el Barrani fn. 1 on page 61; l’esercito italiano tra la 1° e la 2° Guerra Mondiale 184-5; and Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. 1 Sidi el Barrani page 47 and allegato 48 (pages 596-601).

[12] The CC.NN. used formation names that hearken back to Imperial Rome. Legion for regiment; Coorte for battalion, Centuria for company, etc.

[13] The M.V.S.N. units were a low priority for equipment due to the politics between the M.V.S.N. and the R.E.

[14] This organization is primarily taken from Struttura, uniformi, distintivi ed insegne delle truppe libiche 1912-1943 pages 37, 61, 91; La Preparazione al conflicto l’avavzata su Sidi el Barrani fn. 1 on page 61; l’esercito italiano tra la 1° e la 2° Guerra Mondiale 184-5; and Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. 1 Sidi el Barrani page 47 and allegato 48 (pages 596-601).

[15] These units were not formed regiments, but tactical groupings of Libyan battalions. As such they lacked the normal staff and much of the equipment that a regular regiment would possess (i.e. field telephones, tentage, etc.). These units were very ad hoc in nature. The intent was that they would be permanent, but they were destroyed before they were fully equipped.

[16] l’esercito italiano tra la 1° e la 2° Guerra Mondiale 324; Website ‘La struttura delle grandi unitá’, accessed 25 Jan 2012.

[17]  Ibid. This was planned but not always provided. Normally light tanks.

[18] Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk pgs. 28-29. Many subordinate organizations are guesswork based on common Italian TO&E structures. The 81mm mortars are very uncertain as 24 weapons don’t fit the standard 9 weapons per company.

[19] Ibid pg 424 fn 46. I am assuming that the tipo A.S. organizations adopted later in 1941 were taken from this proposed organization.

[20] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca page 8 fn 3.

[21] Much of this is from Gli autoveicolia da combattimento dell’esercito Italiano volume secondo XXX, La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca allegato11 (pages350-351), XXX

[22] Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk page 228 fn 35.

[23] No battalion organization was planned at this time.

[24]  I was unable to find a detailed TO&E for Trento at the time of it arrival in A.S. The OB provided in La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca Allegato 10 (pages 332-333) indicate that it was still organized at a 1940 motorized division. Therefore I used the organization provided in l’esercito italiano tra la 1° e la 2° Guerra Mondiale p. 311.

[25] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca pages 159-162; Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk page 262-4.

[26] Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk pages 262-264.

[27] Ibid page 264.

[28] Ibid page 460 fn 2 and 3; page 756. The infantry had been reorganized, but the divisions were still missing their artillery and trucks.

[29]  Ibid pages 421 and 756.

[30] The Brescia still had its third infantry battalion in its regiments during Crusader. See ibid page 580 where the III/19° fanteria is listed and page 700 where III/20° fanteria is listed.

[31] Ibid the chart on page 304.

[32] Ibid page 756.

[33] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca pages159-162; Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk page 262-4.

[34] The two brigade structure was never implemented due to a lack of equipment. The current structure of one armor and one bersaglieri regiment was retained.

[35] This information is mainly from Gli autoveicolia da combattimento dell’esercito italiano volume secondo page 250. The difficulty is that the breakdown provided doesn’t clearly list all the medium tanks to reconcile their numbers with the totals provided.

[36] This artillery structure was never implemented (Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk 263).

[37] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca pages162; Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk page 305.

[38] Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk fn 46 page 454.

[39] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca lists this unit (page 162); La fanteria motorizzata tra modello ed esperienze la Trieste in Africa settentrionale 1941-1942 from Società italiana di storia militare Quaderno 1999 also discusses this unit (pages 155-156). Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk does not (page 263), but Footnote 46 (page 454 of Tobruk) does discuss this unit.

[40] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca places the c.a. gruppo in the artillery regiment; (page 162); Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk places it as a separate unit (page 263). Because Tobruk has the c.a. in the artillery regiment on page 305, I have shown it in that configuration.

[41] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca page 162; Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk page 263.

[42] I haven’t found any discussion on the organization of this infantry regiment. I have assumed that it remains the same as in the earlier organizations. This could be incorrect.

[43] La prima controffensiva Italo-Tedesca places the c.a. gruppo in the artillery regiment; (page 162); Le operazione in Africa settentrionale Vol. II Tobruk places it as a separate unit (page 263). Because Tobruk has the c.a. in the artillery regiment on page 305, I have shown it in that configuration.

[44] La fanteria motorizzata tra modello ed esperienze la Trieste in Africa settentrionale 1941-1942 page 156; Montanari vol II Tobruk page 305;

[45] Seconda controffensiva Italo-Tedesca in Africa Settentrionale da El Ahgiela a El Alamein allegato 1.

[46] Seconda offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale e ripegamento Italo-Tedesca nella Sirtica orientale (Roma 1949) allegato 30.

[47] Ibid allegato 31.

[48] Ibid allegato 32.

[49] Gli autoveicolia da combattimento dell’esercito italiano volume secondo page 250; Italian Army
Authorized Strength Command, Medium Tank Regiment June 1942
George Nafziger 1995 (National Archives Microcopy No. T-821, Roll 21, American Historical Association Committee for the Study of War Documents, Washington, DC., 1960). Authorized in August 1941, the regimental structure remained unchanged in 1942.

[50] Italian Army Authorized Strength Medium Tank Battalion June 1942 George Nafziger 1995 (from National Archives Microcopy No. T-821, Roll 21, American Historical Association Committee for the Study of War Documents, Washington, DC., 1960

[51] Seconda offensiva Britannica in Africa Settentrionale e ripegamento Italo-Tedesca nella Sirtica orientale (Roma 1949) allegato 33.

[52] Ibid.

Originally published on 23 January 2012, this article was updated on 05 May 2020.

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