4th Mountain Infantry Division Livorno
|4th Mountain Infantry Division Livorno|
|Country|| Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Royal Italian Army
|Engagements||World War II|
|General Domenico Chirielieson|
|Livorno Division collar insignia|
The 4th Mountain Infantry Division Livorno was an Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Division was formed in 5 April, 1939 in Rome. 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.
At the beginning of June, 1940, the Livorno division was deployed at border with France, south-west of Vinadio, concentrating at Pas de Saint-Anne and Lausfer pass. Rear echelons have stretched back to Bagni di Vinadio It started the operations 13 June, 1940 by shelling across border. Actual advance have started 15 June, 1940 with the capture of Collalunga pass at altitude 2608 m. There was an intermittent fighting mostly in form of artillery barrage until 23 June, 1940. The fierce fighting has erupted 23 June, 1940. After a day-long assault, the Italian forces was able to break the French defenses and reached Saint-Honorat in La_Bollène-Vésubie commune. Afterward, the advance has stalled and not much progress was made until armstice of 25 June, 1940. The Livorno division was reformed to assault-landing division in March 1942, for the planned Invasion of Malta. When the invasion was canceled it was transferred to Sicily in mid-February 1943, and was planned to be shipped to North Africa but that order was cancelled.
The Livorno Division was the only Italian mobile division in Sicily and was considered by the Germans and most Italians to be far superior to the other divisions, as they had originally been intended for the assault on Malta in June, 1942. It consisted of high quality troops and it had sufficient transport to move all of its infantry units simultaneously. Located in Caltanissetta-San Cataldo-Aragona-Raffadali-Butera area at invasion start 10 July, 1943, they carried out a substantial counterattack 10-11 July, 1943, and threatened to throw the invaders back into the sea, being stopped just few hundred meters from the beaches. On 10 July Livorno infantry supported by the 155th Bersaglieri Motorcycle Company and a column of tanks poured onto Highways 115 and 117 and nearly retook the city of Gela, but guns from the destroyer Shubrick and the light cruiser Boise destroyed several Fiat 3000 tanks (a L.5/30 variant). Also, Allied forces has attacked a division right flank from Licata in the direction of Ravanusa and Riesi, tying up much of Italian troops. The Amphibious Battle of Gela was reported by an American newspaper: "Supported by no less than forty-five tanks, a considerable force of infantry of the Livorno Division attacked the American troops around Gela. The American division beat them back with severe casualties. This was the heaviest response to the Allied advance."  The Livorno regrouped made a further attempt to retake Gela two days later and the 3rd Battalion, 34 Livorno Regiment, is recorded by its Commanding Officer as having made a valiant effort in the Gela Beachhead. But 15 July, 1943, the Allied armoured units has attacked from west to between Valguarnera Caropepe and Raddusa, threatening to encircle Livorno division. Raddusa was lost by Italians 18 July, 1943 after heavy fighting, and Livorno division has taken a stand at Simeto river down to the river mouth south of Catania. 22 July, 1943 the Livorno division was subject to heavy coastal bombardment by British ships between Leonforte and Simeto mouth, but managed to hold a positions.
Failures of other Axis units in Sicilia then forced a Livorno division to retreat. The retreat route has passed through Agira and Regalbuto, where Livorno have suffered a severe losses. The remnants of Livorno were send to 2nd echelon at Castroreale to reorganize at 30 July, 1943, but because of complete absence of supplies, the decision was made to evacuate to the mainland Italy. 1 August, 1943, the Livorno division has reached Messina. From 1 August, 1943 until 14 August, 1943 the Livorno was ferried to the Calabria, suffering further losses in the process. Only 4200 troops out of initial strength of 13000 were evacuated. In early September, 1943, the Livorno was sent to Piedmont province for reorganization. It surrendered to the German forces in 9 September 1943, while most of the personnel have deserted.
- Generale di Divisione Domenico Chirieleison
Order of battle
- 33. Livorno Infantry Regiment
- 34. Livorno Infantry Regiment
- 28. Monviso Artillery Regiment
- 4. Motor Tricycle Group
- 4. Mortar Battalion
- 4. Anti-Tank Battalion
- 4. Engineer Battalion
- 4. Signals Company
- 4. Training and Radio Company
- 7. Chemical Company
- 20. Pioneer Company
- 11. Engineer Battalion
- 12. Medical Section
- 13. Surgical Unit
- 68. Medical Section
- 20. Field Hospital
- 22. Field Hospital
- 63. Field Hospital
- 122. Field Hospital
- 8. Supply Section
- 4. Motor Transport Section
- 56. Bakery Squadron
- 10. Carabinieri Section
- 11. Carabinieri Section [nb 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.
- Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- The New York Times, 13 July 1943, page 2
- Paoletti, p 170
- In 1947, Lt. Col. Dante Ugo Leonardi, formerly commander of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment of the Livorno Division, published a little book entitled "Luglio 1943 in Sicilia" (July 1943 in Sicily). The account can be read here