5th Infantry Division Cosseria
|5th Infantry Division Cosseria|
|Active||January 1, 1935 - September 12, 1943|
|Engagements||World War II|
The 5th Infantry Division Cosseria was an Infantry Division of the Italian Army during the Second World War. The 5th Division "Cosseria" participated in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and was reorganized as a binary division prior to the start of the Second World War. It was made up almost totally of Ligurians and Montferratians.
Order of Battle October 1935
5th Infantry Division "Cosseria"
- 41st Infantry Regiment "Modena"
- 42nd Infantry Regiment "Modena"
- 29th Artillery Regiment (2 x 75L13 bns)
- 505th MMG Battalion
- 5th Engineers Company
- 5th Replacements Battalion
- Each Army Division in the Ethiopian Campaign had a Pack-Mules unit of 3000 mules and three Regimental Trucks units (20 light trucks each).
- Cosseria Division was organized in Ethiopia as a Binary Division (2 Infantry Rgts only)
Order of Battle June 1940
5th Infantry Division "Cosseria"
- 89th Infantry Regiment "Salerno"
- 90th Infantry Regiment "Salerno"
- 5th 81mm Mortar Battalion
- 10th 81mm Mortar Battalion
- Antitank Gun Battalion
- 135th Antitank Gun Company (47/32)
- 335th Antitank Gun Company (47/32)
- Semoventi da 47/32 Company
- 37th Artillery Regiment
- 23rd Engineer Company[nb 1]
Deployment in Russia
The division was one of the twelve divisions that served on the Eastern Front as part of the Italian Army in Russia. By mid-November 1942, German intelligence had spotted the massing of the tanks of the Russian 5th Tank Army across the Don River, yet a German officer attached to the Cosseria wrote, that the morale of the division and neighbouring Ravenna was confident considering all the difficulties. The division was destroyed in Operation Little Saturn, the Red Army's offensive operation which consisted of a pincer movement which threatened to cut off the forces attempting to reach Stalingrad. The 1st Guards Army and the 3rd Guards Army attacked from the north, encircling 130,000 soldiers of the Italian 8th Army on the Don and advancing to Millerovo. The severely outnumbered Cosseria and Ravenna divisions initially resisted all Russian attempts to break their lines, winning praise from the attached German officers, but eventually had to retreat after German reinforcements showed up late.  The division was reforming in Italy, when Italy surrendered in September 1943, it then surrendered to the Germans.
- 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.
- Paoletti, p 170
- "In spite of the unfavourable balance of forces - the 'Cosseria' and the 'Ravenna' faced eight to nine Russian divisions and an unknown number of tanks - the atmosphere among Italian staffs and troops was certainly not pessimistic.... The Italians, especially the officers of the 'Cosseria', had confidence in what they thought were well built defensive positions." All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-43, Jonathan Steinberg, p. ?, Routledge, 2003
- "During this phase, the Germans praised the steadfastness of Italian infantry, who held out tenaciously even in isolated strongpoints but eventually reached their breaking-point under this constant pressure. " The Unknown Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht and Hitler's Foreign Soldiers, Rolf-Dieter Müller, p. 83-84, I.B.Tauris, 28 Feb 2014
- "The attack at dawn failed to penetrate fully at first and developed into a grim struggle with Italian strongpoints, lasting for hours. The Ravenna Division was the first to be overrun. A gap emerged that was hard to close, and there was no holding back the Red Army when it deployed the mass of its tank forces the following day. German reinforcements came too late in the breakthrough battle." The Unknown Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht and Hitler's Foreign Soldiers, Rolf-Dieter Müller, p. 84, I.B.Tauris, 28 Feb 2014