Mantova Mechanized Brigade
|Brigata Meccanizzata Mantova|
Coat of Arms of the Mechanized Brigade Mantova
|Active||1 March 1915 - 1919
1 October 1986 - 30 August 1997
1 January 2003 - today
|Part of||5th Army Corps|
|Garrison/HQ||Cividale del Friuli|
The Mantova Mechanized Brigade was an mechanized brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units were mechanized infantry battalions. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Cividale del Friuli. All the brigades units where based in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. In 2003 the Mantova was raised again as a division command.
World War I
The Mantova Brigade was activated on 1 March 1915 in preparation for Italy's entry into World War I. Initially the brigade consisted of the 113th and 114th infantry regiment and was the 1st Army's reserve infantry formation. During the first year of the war the brigade was employed on the borders of Trentino. In 1916 it entered the 37th Territorial Division and fought in the Battle of Asiago. Afterwards the brigade was transferred to the 57th Territorial Division and moved to the area of Redipuglia. In 1917 the brigade was again on the heavily contested Asiago plateau. In 1918 the brigade participated in the Battle of the Piave River near Nervesa and in the Vittorio Veneto. In November 1919 the brigade was disbanded.
World War II
On 15 March 1942 the 104th Infantry Division Mantova was raised in Verona with the re-activated 113th and 114th infantry regiments and the 11th Artillery Regiment Monferrato. At first the division was based in Piedmont, then in Puglia and Calabria. 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.
Already on 26 September 1943 the divisions ceded part of the 11th Artillery Regiment to help form the Italian 1st Motorized Group under command of the 58th Infantry Division Legnano, which was to aid in the allied war effort. On 16 October its 113th Infantry Regiment joined the US Fifth Army and on 30 October 1943 the division received the 76th Infantry Regiment Napoli as replacement for the 113th.
In spring 1944 the division took command of the remnants of the 155th Infantry Division Emilia after they had been repatriated from combat against German forces in Dalmatia. At that point the divisions consisted of the following understrength units:
- 76th Infantry Regiment Napoli
- 114th Infantry Regiment Mantova
- 119th Infantry Regiment Emilia
- 120th Infantry Regiment Emilia
- 155th Artillery Regiment Emilia
- I Group/11th Artillery Regiment
At the beginning of fall 1944 the division was ordered to re-organize as a Combat Group destined for the frontlines in central Italy. The 76th and 114th infantry regiments and 155th artillery regiment were brought up to strength and equipped with British materiel. By spring 1945 the divisions was ready to join the British Eighth Army, but it arrived at the front just as the German forces in Italy were surrendering.
On 15 October 1945, Combat Group Mantova regained its old name, Infantry Division Mantova, and was garrisoned in Varazze on the Ligurian coast. In May 1947, the division was transferred to the city of Udine in north-eastern Italy, where it formed along with the Folgore Infantry Division the first line of defence towards Yugoslavia. On 16 September 1947 the divisions 114th Infantry Regiment Mantova was given the honour of being the first Italian military unit to enter the city of Gorizia after it was returned to Italian control. One week later, on 23 September 1949, the divisions was joined by the 59th Infantry Regiment Calabria and the 5th Artillery Regiment. Mantova was part of the Italian 5th Military Territorial Command. In the following years, the division repeatedly gained and lost minor units, but its core units - 59th, 76th and 114th infantry regiment and 5th and 155th artillery regiment - remained in place. In the 1960s, the division added the 52nd Infantry Regiment Alpi, the LXIII Tank Battalion with M47 Patton tanks and the VI Cavalry Reconnaissance Group Lancieri di Aosta to its ranks, but lost the 155th Artillery Regiment in the process.
In 1975, the Italian Army undertook a major reform of its organization: the regiment level was abolished and battalions came under direct command of newly formed brigades, which combined units from different arms. Therefore, on 21 October 1975, the Mantovas regimental commands and units were used to form two new mechanized brigades: the Brescia Mechanized Brigade in Brescia and the Isonzo Mechanized Brigade in Cividale del Friuli. The division was augmented with the Pozzuolo del Friuli Armoured Brigade in Palmanova to a full mechanized division and consequently renamed as Mechanized Division Mantova. The names and colours of the divisions disbanded regiments where given to the battalions of the Isonzo brigade.
In 1986, the Italian Army abolished the divisional level and brigades came under direct command of the Army Corps. Therefore the Mantova division command disbanded on 1 October 1986, and its brigades and supports units came under direct command of the 5th Army Corps. However on the same day the Isonzo Mechanized Brigade was renamed as Mantova Mechanized Brigade. The brigade then consisted of the following units:
- Mantova Command and Signal Battalion, in Reana del Rojale
- 63rd Tank Battalion M.O. Fioritto, in Cordenons
- 52nd Infantry Battalion Alpi, in Attimis
- 59th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Calabria, in Cividale del Friuli
- 76th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Napoli, in Cividale del Friuli
- 114th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Moriago, in Tricesimo
- 28th Self-propelled Field Artillery Group Livorno, in Tarcento
- Mantova Logistic Battalion, in Tricesimo
- Mantova Anti-tank Company, in Tarcento
- Mantova Engineer Company, in Remanzacco
After the end of the Cold War, the Italian Army began a massive draw down of forces. At the same time the battalions were returned to use the name regiment for traditional reasons:
- on 30 June 1991, the 59th Infantry Battalion Calabria was disbanded
- on 31 October 1995, the 114th Infantry Regiment Mantova was disbanded
- the 63rd Tank Regiment was disbanded on 29 November 1995, followed by the 28th Artillery Regiment Livorno
- on 31 August 1996, the 52nd Infantry Regiment Alpi was disbanded
- on 30 October 1996, the 82nd Infantry Regiment Torino from the disbanded Gorizia Mechanized Brigade joined the Mantova
- on 31 July 1997, the 76th Infantry Regiment Napoli was the last unit to disband.
The brigade itself was disbanded 30 August 1997 and the last unit under its command, the 82nd Infantry Regiment Torino subsequently joined the Ariete Armoured Brigade
In 2002 the Italian Army raised three division commands, with one of the three always readily deployable for NATO missions. The army decided that each division should carry on the traditions of one of the divisions that served with distinction in World War II. Therefore on 31 December 2002 the 2nd Italian Division in Vittorio Veneto was renamed as Division Command Mantova.
In the 2013 Army reform it was decided to abolish the corps level in the Italian Army. Combat brigades will from 2014 onwards come under the three division commands. The Mantova Division will take command of the following brigades:
Together with the Acqui Division and the Tridentina Division the Mantova will come directly under the Armys Operational Center (Centro Operativo dell’Esercito or COE) once COMFOTER has been disbanded.