Armies of the Second World War

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Army Data: Italy (Co-Belligerent)

Following the armistice of 8 September 1943, units of the Italian army remaining under control of the anti-fascist Badoglio government included nine regular divisions and twelve coastal divisions. All were demoralized, understrength, poorly equipped, and completely unprepared to face German units on even terms. Nevertheless, the government, in its attempt to accomplish the triple objectives of securing its regime in southern Italy, recovering German-controlled territory, and legitimizing its new role as an Allied "cobelligerent", petitioned the Allied Military Mission to commit Italian units at the front. Despite Italian desire to furnish an army of some seven to ten divisions, the Allies initially accepted only a token contribution of Italian-armed and -equipped forces.

First in the field, 1st "Raggruppamento Motorizzato" (equivalent of a U.S. regimental combat team) received its baptism of fire at Monte Lungo with 5th Army. Later redesignated "Corpo Italiano di Liberazione," the unit expanded sufficiently to be considered a weak division and served with 8th Army until disbanded in September 1944.

Although unwilling to provide on the lavish scale requested, the Allies eventually began supplying weapons and materiel to form a number of reasonably well-equipped "gruppi di combattimento" for employment in quiet sectors of the front line. These combat groups were essentially old-style Italian binary (two regiment) divisions with beefed up artillery components, but not strong enough for the Allies to consider them full-strength divisions. The Cremona, Friuli, Folgore, and Legnano groups participated in the final offensive in northern Italy while the Mantova group did not reach the front before the end of the campaign. The short-lived Piceno group never saw action prior to conversion to a replacement and training unit.

In addition to the above, cobelligerent Italy also provided a variety of small labor, security, anti-aircraft, and service formations for the Allied war effort. None are tracked in this OB.

More resources

Books about Italian armies and and ground forces

Italian units on file

C. I. L. Infantry XX
Cremona Infantry X
Folgore Infantry X
Friuli Infantry X
Legnano Infantry X
Mantova Infantry X
Piceno Infantry X
1st Motorized III




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21:51 on 19 January 2017