47th Infantry Division Bari

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47th Infantry Division Bari
47a Divisione Fanteria Bari.png
47th Infantry Division Bari Insignia
Active1939 – 1944
CountryItaly Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
BranchItaly Regio Esercito
Royal Italian Army
TypeInfantry
SizeDivision
Garrison/HQBari, Italy
Nickname(s)Bari
EngagementsWorld War II
Commanders
Current
commander
General Ernesto Zaccone[1]
Notable
commanders
General Ernesto Zaccone

History[edit]

The 47th Infantry Division Bari was an infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed 15 September 1939 in Bari, and reformed to Internal Security Division "Aosta" 21 September 1944. The Bari Division drafted men in Bari and in the Salento.

Actions[edit]

The Bari division embarked for Vlorë in Albania 28 October 1940, to help in the ongoing Battle of Pindus. All divisional sub-units were en route by 31 October 1940 and landed and engaged separately. The 140th infantry regiment reached border positions at Leskovik 2 November 1940, while 139th infantry regiment was placed under command of 3rd Alpine Division Julia, reaching Konitsa on Greek territory where heavy fighting started immediately. The Greek forces had tried to recapture the key road junction of Perati Bridge to the rear of 139th infantry regiment. Although holding positions and successfully counter-attacking from 4-7 November 1940, the defeat of 3rd Alpine Division Julia on 8 November 1940 resulted in the positions of the 139th infantry regiment being stretched along Sarantaporos river to cover the 3rd Alpine Division Julia retreat. The positions from Konitsa to Sarantaporos river were generally held 11–14 November 1940, but on 15 November 1940, the Bari division abandoned Greek territory and concentrated on the defence of the Perati Bridge. Heavy Greek attacks on Perati Bridge were repulsed 17–18 November 1940, but on 20 November 1940 the nearby Greek breakthroughs resulted in a chain reaction of failures of Italian defensive positions. The defence of Perati Bridge then degenerated into bloody massacre, with a few Italian survivors fleeing to Leskovik and Cerckë, joining the 140th infantry regiment. The events of that day served as the inspiration for the Alpini song "Sul Ponte Di Perati". On 21 November 1940, the re-united division Bari stood blocking the Perati-Përmet road in the Aoös valley. After severe fighting, the remnants of the Bari division were relieved from front line duties in Këlcyrë area on 29 November 1940. The new orders were to build a fortification line from Bodar to Mount Dhëmbel. As Italian forces continued to retreat, the fortification come under Greek attack starting on 16 December 1940. The reserve units of Bari division were also transferred to stop the Greek breakthrough south of Qarrisht’ e Fratarit 23 December 1940. At the beginning of January 1941, the Bari was concentrated in line from the western outskirts of Këlcyrë to Mal Trebeshinë. The Greeks started a heavy attack 2 January 1941, and quickly captured Qafa e Kiçokut. By 8 January 1941, the positions of Bari were severely outflanked, forcing a retreat from Këlcyrë which resulted in the Capture of Klisura Pass on 10 January 1941 and set the stage for the Battle of Trebeshina. Consequently, the Bari division retreated north to the Ball - Panarit line. The Greek ski-equpped light forces continued to try to envelop the Bari positions from the north in order to open the way to Berat, which resulted in a particularly violent clash on 15 January 1941, but the front lines have stabilized nonetheless. After repulsing another Greek assault around Vinokash and Kajcë 29 January 1941, the Bari division was replaced by 51st Infantry Division Siena and sent to Roskovec for reorganization.

On 5 March 1941, the Bari division was moved from the reserve to the second echelon, north of Qafa e Kiçokut. On 9 March 1941, it was moved to Mali i Shëndëllisë mountain, between the 38th Infantry Division Puglie on the right and 59th Mountain Infantry Division Cagliari on the left, as part of Italian Spring Offensive. On 13–14 March 1941, the Bari division participated in the "Apocalypse on Hill 731"[2] - a failed assault on Monastery Hill near Komarak, resulting in thousands of Italian soldiers killed. On 19 March 1941, the attacks on Monastery Hill were repeated (18th attempt in row) together with the 131st Armoured Division Centauro and 51st Infantry Division Siena, resulting in all Italian tanks destroyed or disabled, and all attacking Italian infantrymen been killed, wounded or captured. Due to heavy losses, on 23 March 1941, the division Bari was sent to the rear.

It returned to the battle lines 14 April 1941 near Qafa e Kiçokut, as the Battle of Greece started. On 16 April 1941, the Bari division reached the Këlcyrë (captured 2 days before by 51st Infantry Division Siena) and on 17 April 1941 - Përoi i Lemnicës. The division then travelled to Përmet and later Perati, where contact with the Greek forces was re-established. The clean-up of the Perati area was conducted through 20–23 April 1943. After the end of active fighting, the Bari division stayed at Konitsa on the Sarantaporos river. Later in May 1941, Bari engaged in mopping-up operations in the Aoös valley. Supported by a battalion of the San Marco Regiment, it was intended to be used in the assault on the island of Corfu, but was cancelled due to the losses sustained by combat on the mainland. They were later identified as the landing division for the proposed Invasion of Malta, which was also cancelled.[3] In June 1941, the division was called home to Apulia, where it performed coastal defence duties from Brindisi to Taranto.

In September 1942, the division was transferred to Tuscany, where it was stationed in the areas of Livorno, Pisa, and on Elba island. Also, a separate detachment from the division reinforced the coastal defence site at Cecina. On 5 December 1942, the division was transferred to the Rome area, between Cesano (RM), Cecchignola and Centocelle. In April 1943, it was sent to the Oristano area on the west coast of Sardinia. After the Armistice of Cassibile on 8 September 1943, the Bari division participated in the pursuit of Germans evacuating Sardinia, with minor clashes on 17 September 1943. The Bari division was dissolved on 21 September 1944, and its elements formed the internal security division Aosta which was formed on 14 October 1944.

Order of battle[edit]

  • 139th Bari Infantry Regiment
  • 140th Bari Infantry Regiment
  • 47th Artillery Regiment
  • 152nd Salentina CCNN Legion
  • 47th Mortar Battalion
  • 47th Anti-Tank Company
  • 47th Signal Company
  • 55th Pioneer Company
  • Medical Section
  • Motor Transport Section
  • Supply Section
  • Carabinieri Section[nb 1][3]

Notes[edit]

  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.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Enrico Tagliazucchi and Franco Agostini. "Royal Italian Army". Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  2. ^ The Defence and Fall of Greece 1940-1941, pages 139-162
  3. ^ a b Marcus Wendal. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  4. ^ Paoletti, p. 170.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9.