Sassari Mechanized Brigade

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This article is about the currently active Italian Army Sassari Mechanized Brigade. For for the historic Italian Infantry Division, see 12 Infantry Division Sassari.
Brigata Meccanizzata "Sassari"
CoA mil ITA b mec Sassari.jpg
"Sassari" Mechanized Brigade shoulder sleeve insignia
Active March 1, 1915 – March 11, 1926
Sassari Brigade
March 11, 1926 - 1934
12th Infantry Brigade
1934 - 1939
Timavo Infantry Brigade
1939 - September 10, 1943
Sassari Infantry Division
December 1, 1988 - January 1, 1991
Sassari Motorized Brigade
January 1, 1991 – today
Sassari Mechanized Brigade
Country  Italy
Allegiance Italian Army
Type Infantry
Role Mechanized
Size Brigade
Part of Friuli Division Command
Garrison/HQ Sassari
Motto Sa vida pro sa Patria
("life for homeland")
Colors red and white
March Dimonios
("devils")
Anniversaries 28 January 1918
Engagements World War I
World War II
Bosnia SFOR
Kosovo KFOR
Afghanistan ISAF
Iraq Multinational force in Iraq
Commanders
Current
commander
Brigadier Luciano Portolano

The Sassari Mechanized Brigade is a mechanized infantry brigade of the Italian Army, based on the island of Sardinia. Its core is two infantry regiments which distinguished themselves in combat during World War I.

History[edit]

World War I[edit]

During the general mobilization in preparation for entering World War I the Italian Army raised the Sassari Infantry Brigade on 1 March 1915, at Tempio Pausania and Sinnai on Sardinia. The brigade consisted of the 151st Infantry Regiment and 152nd Infantry Regiment. Unlike all other Italian infantry brigades the Sassari was recruited locally on Sardinia; even most officers came from the island.

The brigade saw its first combat in the summer of 1915 in the First Battle of the Isonzo and distinguished itself in the Second Battle of the Isonzo. In May 1916 the brigade was sent to the Asiago Plateau to help in the Italian effort to stop the Austrian Spring offensive. In the month of June 1916 the brigade conquered Monte Fior, Monte Castelgomberto, Monte Spil, Monte Miela and Monte Zebio. For these actions both regiments of the brigade were awarded a Gold Medal of Military Valor.

After the Italian defeat in the Battle of Caporetto and the following flight of the remnants of the Italian Army towards the Piave the Sassari fought with extraordinary discipline and toughness. In fact the last battalion to retreat over the Piave and to safety was a battalion of the Sassari brigade.

Between 28 to 31 January 1918 the Sassari was again in the first line during the first Italian offensive operations after the Army had spent the second half of 1917 in a defensive posture. To the north of Vicenza the brigade managed to capture the Col del Rosso, Col d’Ecchele and Monte Valbella and for this feat was awarded a second Gold Medal of Military Valor for both its regiments. A feat not achieved by any other brigade in the course of the war. At the end of the war the Sassari was the highest decorated Italian unit of World War I, and individual soldiers of the Brigade earned:

The brigade had suffered the highest loss rate of all Italian Infantry brigades in the war: 2,164 dead, and 12,858 wounded and missing in action; a death rate of 13.8% of all men that had served in the brigade during the war. The Italian writer Emilio Lussu had served in the brigade during World War I and would later write an anti-war book about his experiences: A Year on the High Plateau (Un anno sull'altipiano).

World War II[edit]

After the end of World War I the Italian Army disbanded all brigades raised during the war with the exception of the Sassari brigade and three further brigades, which also had distinguished themselves during the war: Liguria, Arezzo and Avellino. The brigade moved to Trieste as part of the 12th Infantry Division Timavo'. In 1926 the brigade gained the 12th Infantry Regiment Casale and changed its name to XII Infantry Brigade. Along with the 34th Artillery Regiment the brigade were the only units of the 12th Division. In 1939 the brigade lost the 12th Infantry regiment and was renamed 12th Infantry Division Sassari. This binary division consisted of only two infantry regiments (151st and 152nd) and the 34th Field Artillery Regiment. To increase the weak strength of the division in 1941 the division was joined by the 73rd Blackshirt Assault Legion Boiardo, a battalion sized militia unit of the Italian Fascist Party.

The division remained in Istria on garrison duty until 6 April 1941 when Axis forces began the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first Yugoslav cities to fall were Prezid and Čabar on 12 April, followed Novi Lazi and Borovec on 14 April. On 19 April the division reached Delnice, the following day Knin. for the next two years the division's command remained in Knin, while the division's units were continuously employed in anti-partisan operations: in Šibenik, Brod na Kupi, Gračac, Petrovac and Drvar. The heaviest fighting occurred during July 1942 when the division tried to clean the Velebit mountains of Partisan forces.

In March 1943, after the Battle of the Neretva, the division transferred to Rome to aid in the defense of the city in case of an Allied attack. During this time the division was reorganized along the lines of the Mod.43 reform of the Italian Army and was augmented with the XII Mortar Battalion and the XII Semovente Battalion which was equipped with 24 Semovente 75/18 self-propelled guns. In total the division fielded 14,500 troops, 24 Semovente and 80 artillery pieces. After the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces of 8 September 1943 the division found itself fighting Italy's former allies the Germans and along with the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna and 135th Armored Division Ariete II the Sassari defended Rome for two days. On 10 September 1943 the remnants of the Sassari joined the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna and the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello and hundreds of civilian volunteers at Porta San Paolo for a last stand. Civilians at Porta San Paolo included communist leader Luigi Longo, lawyer Giuliano Vassalli, writer Emilio Lussu, unionist leader Vincenzo Baldazzi, Mario Zagari, retired Air Force generals Sabato Martelli Castaldi and Roberto Lordi, and 18 year old future partisan leader Marisa Musu. The future Italian president Sandro Pertini brought a detachment of Socialist resistance fighters to Porta San Paolo and around 12:30 the Catholic Communist movement arrived with further reinforcements including famed actor Carlo Ninchi. However by 17:00 the Germans broke the line of the Italian defenders, who had suffered 570 dead. Soon after the Italian military units surrendered to the Germans as the flight of the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III from Rome had made further resistance senseless. However the Italian soldiers handed thousands of weapons over to the civilian population, which was quick to form an organized resistance movement in the city of Rome.

Recent history[edit]

The Sassari was recreated in Sardinia on 1 December 1988 as Sassari Motorized Brigade with two light infantry battalions:

  • Sassari Command and Signal Battalion, in Sassari
    • Sassari Headquarter Company
    • Sassari Signal Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 151.png 151st Motorized Infantry Battalion Sette Comuni, in Cagliari
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 152.png 152nd Infantry Battalion Sassari, in Sassari

The brigade was under command of the Sardinia Autonomous Military Command/Sardinia Military Region in Cagliari, which had administrative command of all units based in Sardinia and was furthermore tasked with the defense of the island in case of war. Besides the Sassari the following units were based on Sardinia:

  • Command Battalion, in Cagliari
  • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 001.png 1st Armored Infantry Regiment, in Teulada (Armored Training Center)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 045.png 45th Infantry (Training) Battalion Arborea, in Macomer
  • 21st Light Aviation Squadrons Group Orsa Maggiore, at Cagliari-Elmas Air Base
  • 47th Signal Battalion Gennargentu, in Cagliari
  • 12th Mixed Transport Battalion, in Cagliari
  • 12th Medical Company, in Cagliari
  • 12th Supply Company, in Nuoro
  • 12th Maintenance Company, in Cagliari

When the Italian Army disbanded a large number of its mechanized brigades in Northern Italy after the end of the Cold War, the Sassaris infantry battalions were mechanized and received VCC-2 armored personnel carriers. Accordingly the brigade changed its name on 1 January 1991 to Sassari Mechanized Brigade. Over the next years Sassari became a fully professionalized brigade, one of the first Italian brigades to do so. In the early 1990s the Italian Army for traditional reasons began to rename battalions as regiment; thus the Sassari consisted by the end of 1993 of the following units:

  • Sassari Command and Tactical Support Battalion, in Sassari
    • Sassari Headquarter Company
    • Sassari Signal Company
    • Sassari Engineer Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 045.png 45th Infantry (Training) Regiment Reggio, in Macomer (Regiment on 1 September 1993)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 151.png 151st Infantry Regiment Sassari, in Cagliari (Regiment on 30 July 1992)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 152.png 152nd Infantry Regiment Sassari, in Sassari (Regiment on 25 October 1992)

The brigade saw two changes to its structure in the following years: on 1 January 2003 the 45th Regiment Reggio was disbanded and replaced by the 5th Engineer Regiment and on 25 November 2009 the 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment arrived from Milan and merged with the I Battalion of the 1 Armored Infantry Regiment in Teulada.

The Brigade employed often in out of area operations and has served in Kosovo, Bosnia, Lebanon, Afghanistan and in Iraq, where it lost seven soldiers in various engagements with Iraqi insurgents.

Structure[edit]

Sassari Mechanized Brigade is located in Sardinia
Brigade HQ & CSS Btn.
Brigade HQ & CSS Btn.
3rd Bersaglieri
3rd Bersaglieri
151st Infantry
151st Infantry
152nd Infantry
152nd Infantry
5th Engineer
5th Engineer
Magnify-clip.png
Sassari Mechanized Brigade unit locations
  • CoA mil ITA b mec Sassari.jpg Sassari Combat Service Support Battalion (Sassari, province of Sassari)
    • Headquarters & Logistical Support Company
    • Signal Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt bersaglieri 03.png 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment (Teulada, province of Cagliari)
    • Regimental Headquarters
    • Headquarters & Logistical Support Company
    • 18th Bersaglieri Battalion Poggio Scanno
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • 3 Infantry Companies
      • Maneuverer Support Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 151.png 151st Infantry Regiment Sassari (Cagliari, province of Cagliari)
    • Regimental Headquarters
    • Headquarters & Logistical Support Company
    • 1st Mechanized Battalion
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • 3 Infantry Companies
      • Mortar Company
      • Anti-tank Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 152.png 152nd Infantry Regiment Sassari (Sassari, province of Sassari)
    • Regimental Headquarters
    • Headquarters & Logistical Support Company
    • 1st Mechanized Battalion
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • 3 Infantry Companies
      • Mortar Company
      • Anti-tank Company
  • CoA mil ITA rgt genio 05.png 5th Engineer Regiment (Macomer, province of Nuoro)
    • Regimental Headquarters
    • Headquarters & Logistical Support Company
    • Engineer Battalion Garda
      • Battalion Headquarters
      • 2 Engineer Companies
      • Mobility Support Company
      • Deployment Support Company

Each constituent regiment is battalion-sized. In 2013 the Army began to form the new Sassari Logistic Regiment in Teulada.

Equipment[edit]

The two infantry regiments of the brigade are equipped with VCC-2 tracked armored personnel carriers, which will be replaced with Freccia wheeled infantry fighting vehicles as soon as funds become available. The Bersaglieri regiment is equipped with Dardo tracked infantry fighting vehicles.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]