51st Infantry Division Siena

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51st Infantry Division Siena
Active 1939–1943
Country  Kingdom of Italy
Allegiance King of Italy
Branch  Royal Italian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Naples
Nickname(s) Siena
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
General Ercole Caligian, General Gualtiero Gabutti,[1] General Giulio Perugi, Lieutenant General Angelico Carta

The 51st Infantry Division Siena (Italian: 51a Divisione di Fanteria "Siena") was a regular infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Siena Division was formed 15 September 1939 and dissolved 8 September 1943. Historically a Campanian unit, it was made almost entirely of Neapolitans.

Actions[edit]

By 10 June 1940, the Siena was transferred to Piedmont as part of army reserve. It did not participate in Italian invasion of France. Fully mobilized in August 1940, the Siena division have received order to move to Albania in September 1940.[2] By the start of Greco-Italian War 28 October 1940, the division was deployed in the Delvinë-Konispol region as part of the Italian VIII Corps, covering border from Mal Stugarë where it linked with 23rd Infantry Division Ferrara, to the coast. Ordered to contribute in the attack on the Greek city of Ioannina, the division have failed to even cross Thyamis river until 6 November 1940 due heavy Greek resistance. 6 November 1940, the beachhead across Thyamis was established, but the division have immediately turned to defence because of the severe Greek forces build-up. 14 December 1940, it repelled a Greek probing attacks, but by 19 December was running with the main forces in the line from Himarë to Kallarat. It was able to stop the Greek advance only short of the valley of Shushicë, on the mountaintops of Mali i Çorajt to Horë-Vranisht. The fighting was bloody, with the infantry regiments of Siena down to the battalion strength.[3] The 33rd Mountain Infantry Division Acqui has come to the Siena rescue 24 December 1940, and 26 December 1940 the Siena division was relieved from the front line duties and sent to Berat to regroup.

To plug the Greek breakthrough after Capture of Klisura Pass, 25 January 1941 the Siena division was thrown to line Qafa e Kiçokut - Monastery Hill (Height 731) north of Këlcyrë. It managed to stop the breakthrough, despite of incessant Greek attacks. 8 February 1941 the division was sent to reserve again. It participated in Italian Spring Offensive 19 March 1941 (with disastrous results) and in Battle of Greece, capturing Këlcyrë 14 April 1941. An order was given to Siena 16 April 1941 to stop and to give a way to the 47th Infantry Division Bari.

After the fighting ended, the Siena was first re-organized in the Osum valley and then sent to Peloponnes at the beginning of May, 1941, forming garrisons in Corinth, Nemea, Argos and Nafplion. In the late September, 1941, the division was transferred to the eastern part of the island of Crete, joining the Italian XXVI Corps. 18 April 1943, the parts of Siena have repelled an Allied landing attempt on the Koufonisia island. The division remained in Crete until September 1943, when Italy surrendered to the Allies according to Armistice of Cassibile and the division was disarmed by the Germans.[4] 2,670 men drowned when they were transported to the mainland as PoWs on the SS Petrella, which was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Sportsman.

Orders of battle[edit]

Order of battle (1940)[edit]

  • 31. Siena Infantry Regiment
  • 32. Siena Infantry Regiment
  • 265. Lecce Infantry Regiment
  • 341. Infantry Regiment (from 37th Mountain Infantry Division Modena)
  • 51. Artillery Regiment
    • 1. Artillery group
    • 2. Artillery group
    • 3. Artillery group
  • 141. CCNN Legion
    • 141. CC.NN Battalion "Capuana"
    • 251. Machine gun company
  • 51. Mortar Battalion (da 81)
  • 312. Tank Battalion (transferred to command of 50th Infantry Division Regina later)
  • 51a Anti-Tank Company (47/32)
  • 251. Anti-Tank Company (47/32)
  • 51. Mixed telegraph/radio Signal Company
  • 160. Mixed telegraph/radio Signal Company
  • 83. Pioneer Company [nb 1][4]

Order of battle (1943)[edit]

  • 31. Siena Infantry Regiment
  • 32. Siena Infantry Regiment
  • 51. Artillery Regiment
    • 1. Artillery group
    • 2. Artillery group
    • 3. Artillery group
  • 141. CCNN Legion
    • 141. CCNN Battalion "Capuana"
    • 251. Machine gun company
  • 51. Machine gun battalion
  • 51. Mortar Battalion (da 81)
  • 312. Tank Battalion (1 company, the rest is under 50th Infantry Division Regina)
  • 51. Pioneer battalion
  • 51. Chemical warfare platoon
  • 1. District detachment of Guardia di Finanza

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  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.[5]
Citations
  1. ^ Enrico Tagliazucchi and Franco Agostini. "Royal Italian Army". World War II Armed Forces – Orders of Battle and Organizations. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rediv51.htm
  3. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rgt/rgt31.htm
  4. ^ a b Marcus Wendal. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  5. ^ Paoletti, p 170
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9.