Royal Corps of Colonial Troops

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Medal Bar of the Italian merit star for soldiers in the Royal Corps of Colonial Troops.

The Royal Corps of Colonial Troops (Italian: Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali) was a corps of the Italian armed forces, in which all the Italian colonial troops were grouped until the end of World War II in Africa.

Structure[edit]

Since the beginning of the colonial conquest the Kingdom of Italy created military units with colonial soldiers. The main units included as parts of the "Regio Corpo Truppe Coloniali" were:

All these military units underwent a reorganization in the 1930s, but remained active until 1943, when Italy was defeated in WWII.

Libyan paratroopers of the 1 Libyan Division Sibelle

Structure after 1936[edit]

The Italian Army started to modernize the colonial units in the mid-1930s. During the conquest of Ethiopia in 1936 and at the beginning of World War II, it also created some Infantry Divisions manned by colonial troops:

In those years, there were also special units composed mainly of colonial troops such as the Maletti Group, the Libyan paratroopers (Ascari del Cielo) and the Italian Africa Police.

History[edit]

These troops were deployed on all fronts in Africa from the First Italo-Ethiopian War, the Italian-Turkish war, the conquest of Ethiopia, until World War II. The colonial soldiers always showed courage and in some cases (like the Eritrean Ascari) fought with heroism.

Except for the German parachute division in Italy and the Japanese in Burma no enemy with whom the British and Indian troops were matched put up a finer fight than those Savoia battalions at Keren (Eritrea). Moreover, the Colonial troops, until they cracked at the very end, fought with valour and resolution, and their staunchness was a testimony to the excellence of the Italian administration and military training in Eritrea [5]

The colonial troops were commanded by Italian officers and NCOs, while soldiers were drawn from the Italian colonial territories (and to a smaller extent also from neighboring Yemen).

In 1940, 256,000 Askaris in the Italian Royal Army were present in the local Italian colonies. Of these, 182,000 had been recruited in Italian East Africa (Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia) and 74,000 in Libya.

Honours[edit]

The Royal Corps of Colonial Troops has been awarded 4 Gold Medals of Military Valor ("Medaglia d'oro al valor militare"):

  • Royal Corps of Eritrean Colonial Troops.

Two Gold Medal of Military Valor:

Valor militare gold medal - old style BAR.svg In one hundred and fifty battles gloriously sustained in the service of His Majesty the King of Italy, gave constant evidence of strong heroic military discipline, of fierce warrior spirit, of unquestioned loyalty and value, lavishing their blood with a zeal and devotion than never had limitations. Eritrea - Tripoli - Cyrenaica, from 1889 to 1929. - May 12, 1930[6]

Valor militare gold medal - old style BAR.svg With the courage of their race, fueled by love for the flag and the belief in the higher destinies of Italy in Africa, gave during the war, many proofs of the most brilliant heroism. With great generosity, and similar faithfulness, gave their blood for the consecration of the Italian Empire. Italo-Ethiopian War, October 3, 1935 - May 5, 1936. - November 19, 1936.[7]

  • Royal Corps of Libyan Colonial Troops

One Gold Medal of Military Valor:

Valor militare gold medal - old style BAR.svg With the courage of their race - fueled by love for the flag and the belief in the higher destinies of Italy in Africa, gave during the war, many proofs of the most brilliant heroism. With great generosity, and similar faithfulness, gave their blood for the consecration of the Italian Empire. Italo-Ethiopian War, October 3, 1935 - May 5, 1936. - November 19, 1936.[8]

  • Royal Corps of Somali Colonial Troops.

One Gold Medal of Military Valor:

Valor militare gold medal - old style BAR.svg With the courage of their race - fueled by love for the flag and the belief in the higher destinies of Italy in Africa, gave during the war, many proofs of the most brilliant heroism. With great generosity, and similar faithfulness, gave their blood for the consecration of the Italian Empire. Italo-Ethiopian War, October 3, 1935 - May 5, 1936. - November 19, 1936.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Mackenzie, Compton. Eastern Epic. Chatto & Windus, London 1951
  • Renzo Catellani, Giancarlo Stella, Soldati d'Africa. Storia del colonialismo italiano e delle uniformi per le truppe d'Africa del regio esercito italiano. Vol. I - 1885/1896, Albertelli, Parma, 2002 ISBN 978-88-8737-220-5
  • Renzo Catellani, Giancarlo Stella, Soldati d'Africa. Storia del colonialismo italiano e delle uniformi per le truppe d'Africa del regio esercito italiano. Vol. II - 1897/1913, Albertelli, Parma, 2004 ISBN 978-88-8737-239-7
  • Renzo Catellani, Giancarlo Stella, Soldati d'Africa. Storia del colonialismo italiano e delle uniformi per le truppe d'Africa del regio esercito italiano. Vol. III - 1913/1929, Albertelli, Parma, 2006 ISBN 978-88-8737-255-7
  • Renzo Catellani, Giancarlo Stella, Soldati d'Africa. Storia del colonialismo italiano e delle uniformi per le truppe d'Africa del regio esercito italiano. Vol. IV - 1930/1939, Albertelli, Parma, 2008 ISBN 978-88-8737-265-6
  • Gabriele Zorzetto, Uniformi e insegne delle truppe coloniali italiane 1885-1943. Studio Emme, Vicenza, 2003. ISBN 978-88-9013-020-5
  • Raffaele Ruggeri, Le Guerre Coloniali Italiane 1885/1900, Editrice Militare Italiana, Milano, 1988.