32nd Infantry Division Marche
|32nd Infantry Division Marche|
32nd Infantry Division Marche Insignia
|Country|| Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Royal Italian Army
|Engagements||World War II|
|General Riccardo Pentimalli
|Marche Division collar insignia|
The 32nd Infantry Division Marche was a mountain infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed 22 February 1939 in Conegliano as Division 32a Marche, based on earlier infantry brigade Marche. The only difference between line infantry divisions and mountain infantry divisions was that the latter's artillery was carried by pack mules instead of the standard horse-drawn carriages. Italy's real mountain warfare divisions were the six alpine divisions manned by the "Alpini" mountain troops.
10 June 1940, the Marche division was transferred to Treviso. In the March, 1941, the division was assigned to Italian XVII (Armoured) Corps and was sent to the Potenza-Eboli-Padula on the south of Italy to reinforce a coastal defence.
But before the move was completed, in the 1–10 April 1941 interval, the Marche division was rerouted to Albania due to the collapse of the Greek resistance in the Greco-Italian War. Initially, the division was garrisoned on the Yugoslavia-Albania border at Shkodër-Lezhë-Koplik area. It crossed the border with Yugoslavia 20 April 1941 as part of Invasion of Yugoslavia, and proceed to capture Dubrovnik, Trebinje, Bileća, Metković, Mostar, and islands of Mljet and Korčula. Afterward, the division was tasked with the coastal defence and the anti-partisan actions.
The initial fighting with Yugoslav Partisans have started in July, 1941, near Gacko. In this period the Giuseppe Amico have assumed the post of division commander instead of Riccardo Pentimalli. The change of the command was the immediate result of division capturing the main Yugoslavian gold reserve, a total of 56 tons of gold bars and coins, hidden in the cave. 30 July 1941, a fighting escalated at Dragalj-Grahovo, Nikšić in a joint anti-partisan action with a 48th Infantry Division Taro and a 22nd Infantry Division Cacciatori delle Alpi. In September 1941, partisan raids on Gacko has become so severe what the Marche division was forced to garrison the Gacko permanently. As local partisan activity diminished, the division have performed a series of patrols and skirmishes on the Serbia-Croatia border from 9 October 1941, to 9 November 1941. Heavy fighting for the control of Trebinje-Bileća road have happened from 5 December 1941 to 20 December 1941, and ended with a victory for the Marche division. In the same period, the division have repulsed a partisan attacks on the city of Dubrovnik and Gabela-Dubrovnik-Kotor railroad. From the January, 1942, to May, 1942, the intensity of skirmishes with Yugoslav Partisans in the Bileća-Gacko-Trebinje region have increased gradually. In June, 1942, a major mopping-up operation have started at Dobromani-Lastva-Plana, Bileća area. Especially heavy fighting has happened at Plana, Bileća, which was initially firmly under Yugoslav Partisans control. Later, the focus of fighting has shifted back to Gabela-Dubrovnik-Kotor railroad.
The Division was in the Axis order of battle during the Battle of the Neretva (Operation Weiss) between 20 January and 17 February 1943 and in Battle of the Sutjeska (Operation Schwarz) between May and June 1943, but was not ordered any offensive actions because it was considered unreliable due to well-known pro-Jewish attitude of Marche division commander, Giuseppe Amico. After the Armistice of Cassibile 8 September 1943, the division fought the German 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen near the city of Dubrovnik until 10 September 1943, than the Marche division was routed and dissolved.
Order of battle
- 55. Marche Infantry Regiment
- 56. Marche Infantry Regiment
- 32. Artillery Regiment
- 49. CCNN Legion (Blackshirts)
- 32. Mortar Battalion
- 32. Anti-Tank Company
- 32. Signal Company
- 39. Pioneer Company
- 39. Medical Section
- 4. Supply Section
- 32. Bakery Section
- 35. Carabinieri Section
- 36. Carabinieri Section [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.
- Paoletti, p 170
- "1940 Infantry Division". World War II Armed Forces – Orders of Battle and Organizations. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21.