58th Infantry Division Legnano

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This article is about the historic Italian 58th Infantry Division Legnano. For the historic Italian Army brigade, see Legnano Mechanized Brigade.
58th Infantry Division Legnano
Active 1939–1945
Country Italy
Branch Italian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname Legnano
Engagements World War II

The 58th Infantry Division Legnano was an Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II.

History[edit]

The Legnano was activated as an infantry division on 8 February 1934. Initially the division consisted of the 7th Infantry Regiment Cuneo, 8th Infantry Regiment Cuneo, 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo and 27th Artillery Regiment. On 24 March 1939 the division was split into the 6th Infantry Division Cuneo and 58th Infantry Division Legnano. After the split the Legnano fielded the 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo, 68th Infantry Regiment Palermo and 58th Artillery Regiment.

In 1940 the division remained in Fenestrelle as a reserve force during the Italian invasion of southern France. After the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 bogged down under stiff Greek resistance the Legnano division was dispatched to Albania in January 1941 to augment the Italian forces under pressure by the Greek counteroffensive.

In November 1942 the division participated in the occupation of Vichy France and remained afterwards in France on occupation duty. In August 1943 the division returned to Italy - first to Bologna and then to Brindisi in Puglia in the South. After allied forces had landed on the Italian peninsula and an armistice between Italy and the Allies had been signed, the division stayed loyal to the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, who fled with the royal court from Rome to Brindisi.

Already on 26 September 1943 the division formed the Italian 1st Motorized Group, which was to aid in the allied war effort. The 1st Motorized Group consisted of the following units:

  • 1st Motorized Group Command (formed with the men of the 58th Infantry Division Legnano Command Group)
    • 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo
    • V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed)
    • V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed)
    • 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment (from the 104th Motorised Division Mantova)
    • Engineer Company

In the next months the division lost all its units, which were needed on the front lines. On 17 February 1944 the division was deactivated after its last units had joined other units. On 24 September 1944 the I Brigade of the Italian Liberation Corps (Corpo Italiano di Liberazione, or CIL), was renamed as Legnano Combat Group. The Combat Group consisted of the 68th Infantry Regiment Palermo, the 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment, the elite IX Assault Battalion and the Special Infantry Regiment, which consisted of the remnants of the 3rd Alpini Regiment and 4th Bersaglieri Regiment. The Combat Group was equipped with British weapons and materiel.

The Legnano entered the front as part of the Polish II Corps on the extreme left of the British 8th Army near the river Idice and was tasked with liberating Bologna.

Order of battle[edit]

  • 67. Palermo Infantry Regiment
  • 68. Palermo Infantry Regiment
  • 58. Artillery Regiment
  • 58. Mortar Battalion
  • 58. Anti-Tank Company
  • 58. Engineer Battalion
  • 61. Medical Section
  • 163. Motor Transport Group
  • 18. Carabinieri Section
  • 19. Carabinieri Section
  • 240. Carabinieri Section
  • 104. Bersaglieri Company [nb 1][2]

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 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.[1]
Citations
  1. ^ Paoletti, p 170
  2. ^ Marcus Wendal. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 

References[edit]

  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9. 
  • Jowett, Phillip. The Italian Army 1040–45 (3): Italy 1943–45. Osprey Publishing, Westminster. ISBN 978-1-85532-866-2. 
  • Mollo, Andrew. The Armed Forces of World War II. Crown Publishing, New York. ISBN 0-517-54478-4.