1st Libyan Division Sibelle

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1st Libyan Division Sibelle
Active 1939–1941
Country Italy
Branch Italian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname Sibelle
Engagements World War II

The 1st Libyan Division Sibelle was an Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II.

History[edit]

Originally called in the 1920s with the name Italian Libyan Colonial Division. This was a formation of colonial troops raised by the Italians in their colony in Libya and participated in the invasion of Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

This formation was reorganized into the "1st Libyan Infantry Division Sibelle" by the beginning of Italy's entry into World War II. It had 7224 men (mostly native Libyans).[1] There was even a "Regiment Libyan Paratroopers", that was formed mainly by the Libyan Paratrooper Battalion "Fanti dell’Aria" (Strength: 500 paratroopers; organization: 4 Companies).

In September 1940, the 1st Libyan Division (commanded by general Sibelle and named after him) participated in the Italian invasion of Egypt. By December, the division was dug in at Maktila near Sidi Barrani and was forced to surrender after heavy fighting during Operation Compass.[2]

Indeed on September 13 the entire 1st Libyan Division, including a regiment of Libyan paratroopers attacked Sollum on the Egyptian northern coast, held by platoons of Coldstream Guards.[3] The British laid mines in the area and quickly withdrew to Marsa Matruh after suffering 50 casualties.

But on December came the British counter-offensive. The Arabs and paratroopers of 1st Libyan Division fought hard on the December 10, 1940 amid a howling sandstorm, but on the 11th the division began to disintegrate with heavy losses.[4]

Some units of Libyan paratroopers were able to reach Tobruk in Italian Libya, after a long march in the desert. The Division was not recreated in the following years, because of direct orders from Rommel (who did not appreciate Libyan colonial troops use, and believed that the Italian defeat in Egypt in December 1940 was due mainly to excessive use of these colonial troops [5] ).

Order of battle[edit]

Libyan paratroopers of the Battalion "Fanti dell'Aria".
  • 1st Libyan Division "Sibelle"
    • 1º Raggruppamento libico
    • 2º Raggruppamento libico
    • Regiment Libyan Paratroopers
      • Battalion Commander – Lieutenant colonel Tonini
      • Deputy Commander – Major Ermete Dandini
      • 1st Company – Captain Luigi Sartini
      • 2nd Company – Lieutenant Ubaldo Fiamingo
      • 3rd Company – Lieutenant Ugo Rapoccini
      • 4th Company – Lieutenant Enrico Cirillo

References[edit]

  1. ^ Organization of Italian Colonial Divisions
  2. ^ Walker, Ian W. (2003). Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts: Mussolini's elite armoured divisions in North Africa. Marlborough: Crowood. ISBN 1-86126-646-4.
  3. ^ Delusione nel deserto - Dall’entrata in guerra (10-6-1940) alla vigilia del contrattacco inglese (9-12-1940)
  4. ^ The Italian Army in Egypt during World War II
  5. ^ Current Biography Yearbook 1942 New York: H.W. Wilson, 1943. pp. 701–04

See also[edit]