Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade
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|Brigata Meccanizata "Pinerolo"|
Coat of Arms Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade
13 November 1831 – 25 October 1871
Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade
|Part of||Acqui Division Command|
|Engagements||World War I
World War II
1831 to 1914
After the ascension to the throne of Charles Albert of Sardinia on 27 April 1831 a major reform of the military of the Kingdom of Piedmont was undertaken. Thus on 13 November 1831 the Pinerolo Brigade was raised with two infantry regiments. These two regiments were the "His Royal Highness' Regiment of Saluzzo" (Reggimento di Saluzzo di Sua Altezza Reale) founded during 1672 as Regiment Lullin and a newly raised Infantry Regiment. From 1 November 1815 to 1821 the "HRH Regiment of Saluzzo" was known as "Saluzzo Brigade" (Brigata Saluzzo) and based in the city of Saluzzo. From 1821 to 13 November 1831 the brigade was known as "Brigade of Pinerolo" (Brigata di Pinerolo) and based in Genoa, however in size and function both brigades were akin to an infantry regiment with just two battalions. Initially each regiment of the brigade consisted of three battalions: the 1st and 2nd battalions fielded each three companies of fusiliers and one company of grenadiers, while the third battalions consisted of four companies of skirmishers. A fourth battalion was added to each regiment and the companies personnel strength was increased. By 1839 each regiment fielded four battalions, which in turn fielded 4 companies of 250 men each. In 1839 the regiments of the Pinerolo were numbered and renamed as 13th Infantry Regiment Pinerolo Brigade and 14th Infantry Regiment Pinerolo Brigade.
The brigade participated in the First Italian War of Independence fighting in the battles of Santa Lucia and Novara. In the Second Italian War of Independence the brigade was employed in the battles of Magenta and Solferino. In the Third Italian War of Independence the brigade fought in the Battle of Custoza.
World War I
At the outbreak of World War I the brigade was based in the city of Padua with its two regiments fielding three battalions each and each of the battalions consisting of four companies and a machine gun section. On 24 May 1915 the brigade advanced to the South of Palmanova into Austrian territory until it met Austrian positions near the village of Selz. During the First Battle of the Isonzo the brigade tried to take the area of Selz and the nearby fortified hill of Sei Busi but managed only to capture some Austrian trenches. During the Second Battle of the Isonzo the brigade again tried to take the two objects. The only success of the battle came on 24 July when the 14th Regiment managed to enter the Austrian trench system on Sei Busi, but the Austrian artillery fire and counterattacks drove the Italians back to their own positions by evening of the same day.
Having suffered horrendous casualties in the Second Battle of the Isonzo the brigade was taken out of the front for a two month rest. In October the brigade returned to the front to participate in the Third Battle of the Isonzo. Again the brigade tried to take Sei Busi and Selz and once more the brigade suffered horrendous losses. Reduced to half its strength the brigade was not employed during the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo but sent to Monfalcone to be rebuilt once more.
During the first half of 1916 the brigade was stationed on the front lines on the Kras Plateau and tasked with continuous attacks on the Austrian positions to impede the Austro-Hungarian Army from sending reinforcements to the stalled offensive on the Asiago Plateau. On 29 June 1916 the brigade managed to break Austrian defenses near Doberdò conquer important staging areas that ultimately led to the success of the Battle of Doberdò during the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo. On 14 August 1916 the brigade was ordered to conquer the mountains of Pecinka and Veliki Hriback near Lokvica. For three days the brigades soldiers tried to reach the two summits, but having suffered over 2,000 dead by 17 August, the Italian Supreme Command ordered to cease combat operations along the front.
Once again the brigade had to be rebuild and was therefore sent to the city of Romans. However less than a month later the brigade was already back at the front for the Seventh and Eighth Battle of the Isonzo. Both times the brigade was again tasked with taking Pecinka and Veliki Hriback. Both times the brigades battalions did not manage to enter the Austrian trenches, this feat only was achieved during the Ninth Battle of the Isonzo when the 13th Regiment managed to break into the Austrian defenses and hold the newly conquered positions.
Until May 1917 the brigade saw little combat, alternating between front line duties and rest in the village of Hudi Log. In the Tenth Battle of the Isonzo the brigade was tasked to the take hills of Stari Lokva and Versic near Sela na Krasu. Although the first Austrian were taken, artillery fire forced the Italians back to their own positions. Again employed in the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo the brigade suffered devastating casualties attacking heights 244 and 251 near the Kostanjevica Monastery.
After the Italian front was broken in the Battle of Caporetto the brigade fought rearguard actions during the general Italian retreat towards the Piave river. On 30 October 1917 the command of the 14th Regiment and one of its battalions had to surrender to German troops as the rapidly advancing German and Austrian forces had already blocked all crossings over the Livenza river. The remnants of the brigade were employed in defensive battles on the lower Piave until December 1917.
On 7 April 1918 the brigade entered the front on the Asiago Plateau, where it was surprised by the Austrian attack towards Vicenza during the Battle of the Piave River. In face of the massive Austrian offensive the brigade had to abandon all its forward positions and managed to hold onto only the las lines of defense. With Austrian offensive bogging down the brigade managed to recapture part of the lost territory.
When the Battle of Vittorio Veneto finally broke the Austrian Army the brigade managed to advance towards the Vezzena Pass, which it reached on 3 November 1918, just before the Armistice of Villa Giusti came into effect.
World War II
After the end of World War I the brigade moved to Abruzzo and was garrisoned in the city of Chieti. In 1926 the brigade gained the 255th Infantry Regiment Arezzo and changed its name to XXIV Infantry Brigade. Along with the 18th Artillery Regiment the brigade formed the 24th Territorial Division in Chieti. In 1934 the division and brigade gained the name Gran Sasso and were forthwith known as 24th Infantry Division Gran Sasso and XXIV Infantry Brigade Gran Sasso. In 1935 the division was sent to Eritrea and participated in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The division operated in the Tigray Region and fought in the Battle of Shire.
In 1939 the brigade lost the 255th Infantry regiment and was renamed 24th Infantry Division Pinerolo. This binary division consisted of only two infantry regiments (13th and 14th) and the 18th Field Artillery Regiment. In 1940 the Pinerolo took part in the Italian invasion of France. In January 1941 the division arrived in Albania stabilize the crumbling Italian front during the Greek counteroffensive in the Greco-Italian War.
On 18 January 1941 the division was in Berat and entered the approaching front near Këlcyrë. The division fought defensive battles for the next month ending with the defense of Tepelenë. The division participated in the Italian Spring Offensive, and participated in a small offensive towards Ohrid in Macedonia during the German-led Invasion of Yugoslavia.
In June 1941 the division transferred to Larissa in Thessaly to suppress the growing Greek Resistance. During its time in Thessaly the Pinerolo division committed the Domenikon Massacre against Greek civilians. the division continued on anti-partisan duty until the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces of 8 September 1943. In the confusion after the armistice the division was the only one in continental Greece to refuse German demands to surrender. While the Piemonte, Forlì, Modena, Casale and Cagliari divisions surrendered to the inferior German forces the Pinerolo defended Larissa against German attacks and then retired towards the Pindus mountain range where it joined the Greek People's Liberation Army in fighting the Germans.
The remnants of the division were repatriated to Italy in March 1945.
On 1 April 1952 the Pinerolo Infantry Division was raised again in the city of Bari. The division consisted initially of the 9th Infantry Regiment Bari and the 13th Infantry Regiment Pinerolo. Both regiments fielded two battalions, one less than the other divisions of the Army at the time. The divisions was rounded out by the 14th Field Artillery Regiment, the 9th Engineer Company and the 9th Signal Company.
However already on 1 September 1962 the division was reduced to a brigade. It consisted now of the 9th Infantry Regiment Bari (with three infantry battalions) and the Field Artillery Group Pinerolo. Minor units of the brigade were a Signal and an Engineer company. During the next years the Pinerolo Logistic Battalion was raised in Bari and on 30 October 1965 the LX Armored Battalion joined the brigade.
On 1 November 1975 the Italian Army abolished the regimental level and battalions came under direct command of the brigades. Therefore the 9th Regiment was disbanded and its three battalions came forthwith under direct command of the Pinerolo Motorized Infantry Brigade. The new organization of the brigade was therefore:
- Pinerolo Command and Signal Battalion, in Bari
- 60th Armored Battalion M.O. Locatelli, in Altamura, (with a mix of M48 Patton main battle tanks and VCC-1 armored personnel carriers)
- 9th Motorized Infantry Battalion Bari, in Trani
- 13th Motorized Infantry Battalion Valbella, in Avellino
- 67th Bersaglieri Battalion Fagarè, in Persano
- 231st Infantry (Training) Battalion Avellino, in Avellino
- 47th Field Artillery Group Gargano, in Persano, (M114 155/23 towed howitzers)
- Pinerolo Logistic Battalion, in Bari
- Pinerolo Anti-tank Company, in Bari
- Pinerolo Engineer Company, in Trani
On 1 February 1979 the 60th Armored Battalion M.O. Locatelli changed composition shedding its two VCC-2 armored personnel carrier companies and received two additional tank companies. The unit was renamed as 60th Tank Battalion M.O. Locatelli. Additionally the battalion was equipped with new Leopard 1 tanks and the brigades infantry battalions were equipped with VCC-1 armored personnel carriers. Therefore on 1 February 1979 the brigade was renamed as Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade. In 1981 47th Field Artillery Group Gargano was disbanded and replaced in the same location by the 11th Field Artillery Group Teramo. The Teramo later replaced its M114 155/23 towed howitzers with M109 self-propelled howitzers.
In the early 1990ties the battalions returned to their traditional regimental names. As example on 30 September 1992 the 9th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Bari was renamed 9th Infantry Regiment Bari without changing composition or size. On 31 December 1990 the Army wide reduction in forces after the end of the Cold War began at the Pinerolo brigade with the disbanding of the 13th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Valbella. On 1 July 1991 the brigade lost the 67th Bersaglieri Battalion Fagarè and the 11th Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Teramo to the Garibaldi Bersaglieri Brigade. The 11th Self-propelled Artillery Regiment was replaced by the 2nd Self-propelled Artillery Regiment Potenza in Barletta
On 17 October 1992 the 133rd Tank Regiment from the Ariete Armored Brigade moved to Altamura and joined the Pinerolo, while on 21 October 1992 the 11th Bersaglieri Battalion Caprera (formerly part of the Garibaldi Bersaglieri Brigade) moved to Bari and joined the brigade as 7th Bersaglieri Regiment. On 10 October 1995 the 131st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Centauro from the Centauro Armored Brigade transferred to Barletta were it replaced the 2nd Self-propelled Artillery Regiment Potenza. On 20 May 1996 the 131st Artillery Regiment moved to Foggia. On 18 April 1997 the 11th Bersaglieri Battalion Caprera was renamed as 10th Bersaglieri Battalion Bezzecca. On 9 October 1995 the 31st Tank Regiment was transferred from the Centauro Armored Brigade to Altamura and joined the Pinerolo. On the same day the 133rd Tank Regiment moved to Lecce and became a reserve unit. With the arrival of the second tank regiment the brigade was renamed as Pinerolo Armored Brigade.
By the of 1997 the brigades composition was as follows:
- Pinerolo Command and Tactical Support Battalion in Bari
- 7th Bersaglieri Regiment in Bari
- 9th Infantry Regiment Bari in Trani
- 31st Tank Regiment in Altamura
- 133rd Tank (Reserve) Regiment in Lecce
- 131st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Centauro
- 47th Infantry (Training) Regiment Ferrara
- Pinerolo Logistic Battalion in Bari
The following years brought additional changes: In March 2001 the 131st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Centauro was replaced with the 21st Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment Trieste from the Friuli Mechanized Brigade. The same year on 5 November the 82nd Infantry Regiment Torino from the Ariete Armored Brigade moved to Barletta and joined the Pinerolo. The same year the 11th Engineer Regiment moved from Motta di Livenza in the north of Italy to Foggia and joined the brigade, while the 133rd Tank Regiment was disbanded.
The last change in the brigades structure occurred when the 31st Tank Regiment transferred to the Cavalry School on 1 January 2011, followed by the renaming of the brigade on 1 October 2011 as Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade. In 2013 it was announced that the brigade would receive by 2016 at the latest the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello from the disbanding Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade. Also in 2013 the brigade received the Pinerolo Logistic Regiment.
Today the brigade is composed of the following units:
- Pinerolo Combat Service Support Battalion in Bari
- 7th Bersaglieri Regiment in Bari
- 9th Infantry Regiment Bari in Trani
- 82nd Infantry Regiment Torino in Barletta
- 21st Self-propelled Artillery Regiment Trieste in Foggia
- 11th Engineer Regiment in Foggia
- Pinerolo Logistic Regiment in Bari
- Italian Army Homepage: Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade
- Regio Esercito: 24a Divisione di fanteria "Pinerolo"
- History of the Pinerolo Brigade in World War I