2nd Mountain Infantry Division Sforzesca

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2nd Mountain Infantry Division
Active 1940 - 1943
Country Italy Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Branch Flag of Italy (1860).svg Regio Esercito
Royal Italian Army
Role Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Novara, Italy
Nickname Sforzesca
Engagements World War II
Disbanded 1943

The 2nd Mountain Infantry Division Sforzesca was an Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Division was mobilized in June 1940 in Novara, for the Italian invasion of France. Mountain Divisions are not to be confused with the "Alpini" (specialized mountain troops). The Mountain divisions had pack horse artillery instead of the usual towed type.

Action[edit]

20 June 1940, the Sforzesca Division has started offense against France between Claviere and Cesana Torinese. It spearheaded the attack to the direction of Briancon, but encountered heavy French fortifications. Only 22 June 1940 the area of Bois de Praria fort was secured, and fighting shifted to Bois de Sestriere, with the capture of Montgenèvre commune.[1] On the southern flank, the advance stalled at La Crete (Crete de Chaussard). 23 June 1940, Sforzesca Division has made very modest advance. On the night from 23 to 24 June 1940 the Sforzesca division was moved to reserve and replaced by 58th Infantry Division Legnano. The Sforzesca Division took part in the Greco-Italian War in 1941, being transferred to Albania 12–18 January 1941. That time Sforzesca Division has 30th legion CC.NN. attached. The division has assembled in Tepelenë. It has the first encounter with Greek army 28 January 1941 on the ridge over Mali i Shendellise (Scindeli). The heavy defensive fighting, with frequent hand-to-hand combat and trenches lost and re-captured several times, has continued until 28 February 1941. During offense started 1 March 1941, the Sforzesca Division has captured Chiaf. By 4 March 1941 it passes Bregu i Buzit, and by 6 March 1941 has captured Klisura? road junction. The Sforzesca division has remained in occupied Greece until middle of July, 1941. Later it was transferred to mainland Italy, tentatively to Novara. It was then chosen to be part of the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia in June 1942, and was transferred to the Eastern front. First it reached and helped to storm the Ivanovka village in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. 14 July 1942 it reached Fashchivka village in Luhansk Oblast. By 18 July 1942, the Sforzesca division has started mop-up operation near the Krasny Luch. At beginning of August, 1942, it marched to area north of Serafimovich, establishing a bridgehead on the east bank of Don river up to khutor of Yarskoy 1-y. Together with 3rd Cavalry Division Amedeo Duca d'Aosta, the Sforzesca beat off several Soviet attacks in from 12 August 1942 to 1 September 1942. Although Soviet attacks were stopped, Italians have failed to continue offense or to expand a bridgehead as result.[2][3] before also withdrawing. After retreating South of Don, Sforzesca division have fought among the units of Romanian 3rd Army, along with sub-units and remnants of 9th Motorised Division Pasubio and 3rd Cavalry Division Amedeo Duca d'Aosta. The Sforzesca Division was under heavy attacks from 20 November 1942 until 28 November 1942. The retreat has started at the beginning of December, 1942. The Sforzesca division fought a defensive battle in village of Kranoyarovka, Rostov Oblast from 25 December 1942 until 28 December 1942. It suffered heavy losses in January 1943, and remnants has break through the encirclement by Soviet 1st Guards Army 3 January 1943[4] and was withdrawn to Italy for reforming in March, 1943. The Sforzesca division was disbanded in April, 1943 but re-formed in 1 June 1943 based on garrison division "157th Infantry Division Novara". Elements of former Sforzesca division were allocated to coastal divisions in France.[5] The newly-formed Sforzesca division was garrisoning village Divača, towns Sežana and Ilirska Bistrica(Villa del Nevoso) towns border between Italy and Yugoslavia. It performed mop-up and anti-partisan duties. The remnants of Sforzesca division has surrendered to the German forces in 9 September 1943.

Order of battle[edit]

  • 53. Infantry Regiment
  • 54. Infantry Regiment
  • 17. Artillery Regiment
  • 4. Mixed Carabinieri Section
  • 5. Motorized Carabinieri Section
  • 53. Flak Company
  • 302. Flak Company
  • 2. Anti-Tank Company
  • 70. Anti-Tank Company
  • 121. Anti-Tank Company
  • II Divisional Mortar Battalion
  • 16. Pioneer Company
  • 2. Telephone & Radio Company
  • 1. Supply Company
  • 2. Command Transport Unit
  • 2. Transport Section
  • 569. Field Post Office [nb 1]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ 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 (Regiment of two Battalions). 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.[6]
Citations
  1. ^ http://digilander.libero.it/avantisavoiait/Fronte%20Alpino%20Occidentale.htm
  2. ^ "The first Soviet counteroffensive began on August 12, 1942 and is referred to in Italy as the First Battle of the Don. Three Soviet divisions crossed the river. Infantry Division Sforzesca was outnumbered 4 to 1 and had no tanks. It resisted as best it could. When it collapsed, Italian survivors held two strong points: Yagodny and Chebotarewksy. Chebotarewksy was overwhelmed, but Yagodny resisted. While the breach widened, the Yagodny garrison was attacked on August 20. It held and counterattacked from August 21–24, until ammunition ran out; and then the Italians faced the last Soviet attack with bayonets. Bersaglieri reinforcements arrived just in time and repelled the enemy." A Military History of Italy, Ciro Paoletti, p. 176, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008
  3. ^ "On 20 Aug., the Spighi Batallion defended its position valiantly and tenaciously, but eventually had to fall back ... When the counter-attack of 3 other battalions began at 16:00, I observed along with the divisional commander, the scattered remains of the Spighi Battalion. Some of them arrived with no rifles or equipment ... Their morale was badly shaken ... They tried not to let on at first." The Unknown Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht and Hitler's Foreign Soldiers, Rolf-Dieter Müller, pp. 81.-82, I.B.Tauris, 28 Feb 2014
  4. ^ Italian General Reported Killed, New York Times, 15 January 1943
  5. ^ http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/italianarmy/Order%20of%20Battle/slides/Italian%20Army%20OB%20%20066.html
  6. ^ Paoletti, p 170
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9.