18th Infantry Division Messina
|18th Infantry Division Messina|
18th Infantry Division Messina Insignia
|Engagements||World War II|
|General Silvio Bonini|
|Messina Division collar insignia|
The 18th Infantry Division Messina was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed 24 May, 1939 in the Fano area on the Italian Adriatic sea coast and was dissolved by Germans 13 September, 1943 in Croatia.
From formation to occupation of Montenegro
The division Messina did not participated in the Italian invasion to France, quartering in Ancona coast besides the Fabriano and Fossombrone valleys nearby until the end of 1940. 3 April, 1941, it was ordered to Albania, on the positions north of Shkodër. It was expected to occupy Ulcinj Castle to shell the Yugoslavian positions. 12–13 April, 1941, it resisted Yugoslavian attacks at Mount Korab. The Messina Division took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia as part of the Italian XVII (Armoured) Corps. The first crossing of Yugoslavian border occurred 15 April, 1941, between Bar, Montenegro and Lake Skadar. 16 April, 1941, after piercing through the Yugoslavian defences, it advanced to Bar. 17 April, 1941, it surprised and captured both Cetinje and Kotor and much of the Royal Yugoslav Navy. The Messina division has reached Podgorica city 25 April, 1941 and received the orders to stay as occupation force. Its area of responsibility was stretched over 100 km around Cetinje, Danilovgrad, Podgorica, Berane and Kotor.
Anti partisan operations
The Messina division was transferred to the Croatian city of Metković in early August, 1942. Therefore, it took part in Operation Alba which was an anti Partisan operations in Croatia carried out on the 12 August to the 2 September 1942, to destroy partisan groups in the Biokovo area 40 to 50 kilometres east of Split. Italian forces burned down 10 villages and killed and arrested several hundred people. The now orders to move to the Neretva Delta was issued 8 September, 1942.
The Messina also took part in Operation Alfa between the 5 and 10 October 1942. The objective was to retake the town of Prozor which had been overrun by a strong Partisan force. The operation was under the command of the Italian VI Corps, which achieved all its objectives in 6 days.
After the Italian Armistice 8 September, 1943, the Messina division have received an orders to disarm by German, Yugoslavian and Croatian forces. In the resulting confusion, elements of the division (93rd Messina Infantry Regiment and 108th CCNN Legion (Blackshirts)) were able to board ships and arrived to Apulia coast of Italia. Nonetheless, the division was officially dissolved 13 September, 1943.
Order of battle
- 93. Messina Infantry Regiment
- 94. Messina Infantry Regiment
- 2. Metauro Artillery Regiment
- 108. CCNN Legion (Blackshirts)
- 18. Mortar Battalion
- 118. Anti-Tank Company
- 18. Signal Company
- 20. Mining Company
- 48. Pioneer Company
- 49. Medical Section
- 190. Heavy Motor Transport Section
- 23. Supply Section
- 52. Carabinieri Section
- 53. Carabinieri Section
- 44. Field Bakery [nb 1]
- 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 of two Battalions was sometimes attached. 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.
- Hronologija oslobodilačke borbe naroda jugoslavije 1941-1945 (Belgrade, 1964), p.323
- Oslobodilački rat naroda Juooslavije 1941-1945, 2 Vols (Belgrade: 1965), p.298
- Le Operazioni delle Unita italiane in Jugoslavia 1941-1943 (Rome: Ministero della Difesa stato Maggiore dell' Esercito, 1978), pp.211-212
- Tomasevich, Jozo - The Chetniks Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1975, p.233.
- Paoletti, p 170