4th Infantry Division Livorno
|4th Infantry Division Livorno|
4th Infantry Division Livorno Insignia
|Country|| Regno d'Italia |
Kingdom of Italy
|Branch|| Regio Esercito |
Royal Italian Army
|Engagements||World War II|
|General Domenico Chirielieson|
|Livorno Division collar insignia|
The 4th Infantry Division Livorno was a mountain infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The division was formed on 5 April 1939 in Rome. 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.
At the beginning of June, 1940, the Livorno division was deployed at the border with France, south-west of Vinadio, concentrating at Pas de Saint-Anne and Lausfer pass. Rear echelons stretched back to Bagni di Vinadio. It started operations on 13 June 1940 by shelling across the border. The actual advance started 15 June 1940 with the capture of Collalunga pass at altitude 2608 m. There was intermittent fighting mostly in the form of artillery barrage until 23 June 1940, when fierce fighting erupted. After a day-long assault, the Italian forces were able to break the French defenses and reached Saint-Honorat in La Bollène-Vésubie commune. Afterward, the advance stalled and not much progress was made until the armistice of 25 June 1940. The Livorno division was reformed into an assault-landing division in March 1942, for the planned Invasion of Malta. When the invasion was cancelled it was transferred to Sicily in mid-February 1943, and was planned to be shipped to North Africa but that order was cancelled.
The Livorno Division was the only Italian mobile division in Sicily and was considered by the Germans and most Italians to be far superior to the other divisions, as they had originally been intended for the assault on Malta in June, 1942. It consisted of high quality troops and it had sufficient transport to move all of its infantry units simultaneously. Located in Caltanissetta-San Cataldo-Aragona-Raffadali-Butera area at the start of the invasion on 10 July 1943, they carried out a substantial counterattack 10–11 July 1943, and threatened to throw the invaders back into the sea, being stopped just a few hundred meters from the beaches. On 10 July Livorno infantry supported by the 155th Bersaglieri Motorcycle Company and a column of tanks poured onto Highways 115 and 117 and nearly retook the city of Gela, but guns from the destroyer Shubrick and the light cruiser Boise destroyed several Fiat 3000 tanks (a L.5/30 variant). Also, Allied forces had attacked a division right flank from Licata in the direction of Ravanusa and Riesi, tying up much of the Italian troops. The Amphibious Battle of Gela was reported by an American newspaper: "Supported by no less than forty-five tanks, a considerable force of infantry of the Livorno Division attacked the American troops around Gela. The American division beat them back with severe casualties. This was the heaviest response to the Allied advance."  The Livorno regrouped and made a further attempt to retake Gela two days later and the 3rd Battalion, 34 Livorno Regiment, is recorded by its commanding officer as having made a valiant effort in the Gela Beachhead. But on 15 July 1943, the Allied armoured units attacked from west to between Valguarnera Caropepe and Raddusa, threatening to encircle Livorno division. Raddusa was lost by the Italians on 18 July 1943 after heavy fighting, and Livorno division took a stand at Simeto river down to the river mouth south of Catania. On 22 July 1943 the Livorno division was subject to heavy coastal bombardment by British ships between Leonforte and Simeto mouth, but managed to hold its position.
Failures of other Axis units in Sicily then forced Livorno division to retreat. The retreat route passed through Agira and Regalbuto, where Livorno suffered severe losses. The remnants of Livorno were sent to 2nd echelon at Castroreale to reorganize on 30 July 1943, but because of a complete absence of supplies, the decision was made to evacuate to the mainland Italy. On 1 August 1943, the Livorno division reached Messina. From 1 August 1943 until 14 August 1943 the Livorno was ferried to Calabria, suffering further losses in the process. Only 4200 troops out of an initial strength of 13000 were evacuated. In early September, 1943, the Livorno was sent to Piedmont province for reorganization. It surrendered to the German forces on 9 September 1943, while most of the personnel had deserted.
- Generale di Divisione Domenico Chirieleison
Order of battle
- 33. Livorno Infantry Regiment
- 34. Livorno Infantry Regiment
- 28. Monviso Artillery Regiment
- 4. Motor Tricycle Group
- 4. Mortar Battalion
- 4. Anti-Tank Battalion
- 4. Engineer Battalion
- 4. Signals Company
- 4. Training and Radio Company
- 7. Chemical Company
- 20. Pioneer Company
- 11. Engineer Battalion
- 12. Medical Section
- 13. Surgical Unit
- 68. Medical Section
- 20. Field Hospital
- 22. Field Hospital
- 63. Field Hospital
- 122. Field Hospital
- 8. Supply Section
- 4. Motor Transport Section
- 56. Bakery Squadron
- 10. Carabinieri Section
- 11. 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 (Regiment of two Battalions). 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.
- Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- The New York Times, 13 July 1943, page 2
- Paoletti, p 170
- In 1947, Lt. Col. Dante Ugo Leonardi, formerly commander of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment of the Livorno Division, published a little book entitled Luglio 1943 in Sicilia (July 1943 in Sicily). The account can be read here.