21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna
|21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna|
|Nickname||Granatieri di Sardegna|
|Engagements||World War II|
|General Alfredo Guzzoni|
|Granatieri di Sardegna collar insignia|
The 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Granatieri di Sardegna Division can trace its origins to 1659 when the Duke Carlo Emanuele II of Savoy formed a regiment of Guards. It became a unit in the national army in 1866.
On 8 February 1934 the 21st Infantry Division received the name Granatieri di Sardegna (Grenadiers of Sardinia). In 1939 the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna lost the 3rd Granatieri di Sardegna Regiment. The division entered World War II with the two Granatieri di Sardegna, the 13th Artillery Regiment and some minor units.
In spring 1943 the division was moved to Rome to aid in the defence of the city in case of an Allied attack. During this time the division was reorganized along the lines of the Mod.43 reform of the Italian Army and was augmented with the XXI Mortar Battalion. In total the division fielded 14,500 troops. After the armistice between Italy and Allies of 8 September 1943 the division found itself fighting Italy's former allies the Germans and along with the 12th Infantry Division Sassari and 135th Armored Division Ariete II the Granatieri defended Rome. The Granatieri fought along the Via Ostiensis for two days before falling back to the Porta San Paolo where the division fought a last stand. There the division was joined by remnants of the Sassari division, the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello and hundredths of civilian volunteers. The future Italian president Sandro Pertini brought a detachment of Socialist resistance fighters to Porta San Paolo were they received the weapons of fallen grenadiers. Civilians at Porta San Paolo included communist leader Luigi Longo, lawyer Giuliano Vassalli, writer Emilio Lussu, unionist leaders Vincenzo Baldazzi, Mario Zagari, retired Air Force generals Sabato Martelli Castaldi and Roberto Lordi, and 18 year old future partisan leader Marisa Musu. Around 12:30 the Catholic Communist movement arrived with reinforcements including famed actor Carlo Ninchi. However by 17:00 the Germans broke the line of the Italian defenders, who had suffered 570 dead. Soon after the Italian military units surrendered to the Germans as the flight of the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III from Rome had made further resistance senseless. However the Italian soldiers handed thousands of weapons over to the civilian population, which was quick to form an organized resistance movement in the city of Rome.
For their role in the defence of the Rome the 1st Granatieri di Sardegna Regiment and the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello were awarded with the Gold Medal of Military Valour.
After the surrender of the Granatieri di Sardegna division three Granatieri battalions based in Corsica refused to surrender to the Germans and along with the 20th Infantry Division Friuli, 44th Infantry Division Cremona, 225th Coastal Division, 226th Coastal Division and French Partisans began to fight retreating German troops. The German Sturmbrigade Reichsführer SS and 90th Panzergrenadier Division and the Italian 12 Parachute Battalion of the 184 Parachute Regiment, which had come from Sardinia tried to retreat through Corsica towards the harbour of Bastia in the islands north. On 13 September elements of the Free French 4th Moroccan Mountain Division landed in Ajaccio to support the Italian efforts to stop the 30,000 retreating Germans. However the Germans managed to escape.
By augmenting the existing three battalions the Italian Co-Belligerent Army managed to raise the Granatieri di Sardegna division anew in Sardinia on 15 May 1944. The division consisted of the 1st and 2nd Grenadier Regiments, the 32nd and 132nd Armoured Infantry Regiments, 548th and 553rd Artillery Regiments and an Engineer Company. However it was decided that the infantry units of the division should join the Friuli Combat Group in Italy. On August 31 the Granatieri division was disbanded with the remaining units used to augment the Cremona Combat Group.
- General Alfredo Guzzoni
- General Carlo Geloso
- General Giovanni Vacchi
- General Ubaldo Soddu
- General Ezio Rossi
- General Umberto Spigo
- General Taddeo Orlando
- General Adolfo De Rienzi
- General Giunio Ruggiero
- General Gioacchino Solinas
Order of battle
- 1st Granatieri di Sardegna Infantry Regiment
- 2nd Granatieri di Sardegna Infantry Regiment
- 3rd Granatieri Guardie Infantry Regiment
- 13th Granatieri di Sardegna Artillery Regiment
- 21st Mortar Battalion
- 121st Anti-Tank Company
- 21st Engineer Battalion
- 1st Medical Section
- 161st Motor Transport Section
- 62nd Carabinieri Section[nb 1]
- Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade
- Military history of Italy during World War II
- Regio Esercito
- An Italian Infantry Division normally consisted of two Infantry Regiments (three Battalions each), an Artillery Regiment, a Mortar Battalion (two companies), an Anti Tank Company, a Blackshirt Legion of two Battalions was sometimes attached. Each Division had only about 7,000 men, The Infantry and Artillery Regiments contained 1,650 men, the Blackshirt Legion 1,200, each company 150 men.
- "21a Divisione di fanteria Granatieri di Sardegna". Retrieved 2009-04-17.
- "Esercito Italiano: Divisione "NEMBO" (184^)". Archived from the original on 2009-05-14. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- Paoletti, p. 170.