60th Infantry Division Sabratha

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60th Infantry Division Sabratha
60a Divisione Fanteria Sabratha.png
60th Infantry Division Sabratha Insignia
Active 1937–1942
Country Italy Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Branch Flag of Italy (1860).svgRegio Esercito
Royal Italian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Gharyan
Nickname(s) Sabratha
Engagements World War II
North African Campaign
Commanders
Notable
commanders
General Giuseppe Tellera

The Italian 60th "Sabratha" Infantry Division was an Italian auto-transportable infantry division during World War II. "Sabratha" was created in May 1937, in Gharyan, Libya and was destroyed 25 July 1942 near El Alamein, Egypt. Some staff and equipment was inherited by 102nd Motorised Division Trento.[1][2][3] The Sabratha was classified as an auto-transportable division, meaning staff and equipment could be transported on cars and trucks, although not simultaneously.

Action[edit]

While standing on the Tunisia-Libya border from 10 June 1940 to 25 June 1940, the Sabratha soon returned to the garrison duties in Tripoli. In December 1940, the division has moved to defensive positions south of Derna. During late January 1941, it thought a series of desperate delaying battles against superior British forces advancing according to Operation Compass in Derna-Al Qubbah region. 30 January 1940, as danger of encirclement become apparent, the Sabratha division has run through Sulunţah, Marj and Benghazi, arriving to Qaminis 5 February 1941. At this point the contact with the British forces was lost, and the remnants of Sabratha have retreated in order through Ajdabiya-Sirte route, and was assigned for coastal defence at Al Khums region. In May 1941, the replenished division was ordered to defensive positions inland, to cover Gharyan-Nalut front, with most units covering the approach to Gharyan. By September 1941, the Sabratha division was transferred to the reserve east of Tobruk.

The reformed division met with mixed fortune during the balance of the Western Desert Campaign. Initially, the Sabratha was covering Sallum area. Soon the Italian defenses failed, and division was forced to arduous retreat through Minqār ‘Ayn al Ghazālah, Derna, Al Qubbah and Mechili. Finally, 23 December 1941, it made a stand at coastal road at Brega, blocking Allied advance through coastal road. On 23 January 1942, the Sabratha has started to advance again, partially enveloping Ajdabiya from the north-east. In May 1942, the further advance was made to Bi’r Timrāz, reaching Gulf of Bomba. The division proceed to defeat enemy forces at ‘Ayn al Ghazālah, and reached Tobruk 15 June 1942 and proceed east without trying to attack it. The Sabratha took part in the Battle of Gazala and played an important role in the capture of 6,000 prisoners at Gazala on 16 June 1942 after the 101st Motorised Division Trieste and 15th Panzer Division had defeated the British 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigades.[4] 20 June 1942 the division was located east of Acroma. After the Fall of Tobruk 21 June 1942, the Sabratha has accelerated its movement, passing in quick succession through Bardia, Sallum and Sidi Barrani, reaching a vicinity of El Alamein 1 July 1942.

Before the positions west of El Alamein (now marked by Sacrario Italiano di Tell-El-Eisa shrine) were adequately fortified, the Australian 26th Brigade have attacked. The Sabratha division was thoroughly routed under heavy artillery barrage 10 July 1942, with over 1500 Italians made prisoner, of them 835 Italian troops that (largely part of an infantry battalion and artillery group) were taken prisoner by the Australian 2/48th Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Hammer at Tell-El-Eisa. The Italians reacted vigorously and a battalion of the 102nd Motorised Division Trento with the assistance of Bersaglieri troops were ordered to retake the position.[5] While the Italian counterattack failed to achieve its objective, it bought time to allow the Italian XXI Motorised Corps to rush in a battalion of the "Trieste" Division and L3 and M13/40 tanks of the 3rd "Novara" Armoured Group and Major Gabriele Verri's 11th Armoured Battalion to affected sector and contain the Australian advance. In the meantime the "Sabratha" Division had recovered from the initial blow and Colonel Angelozzi's 1st Battalion 85th Infantry Regiment of the Sabratha Division, launched a fierce counterattack on the forces on Tell-el-Eisa on 14 July supported by Italian tanks and succeeded in piercing the defences, between the feature and the main Tell-el-Eisa Ridge. Under fierce pressure the Australian troops were forced to withdraw from their forward positions, but their main defences remained largely intact. The survivors of Sabratha were incorporated into 61st infantry regiment of 102nd Motorised Division Trento, and Sabratha division was officially dissolved 25 July 1942.

Orders of battle[edit]

Order of battle (1940)[edit]

    • 85th Infantry Regiment
    • 86th Infantry Regiment
    • 42nd Artillery Regiment (later 3rd Articelere Artillery Regiment)

Order of battle (1 February 1941)[edit]

  • 85. Infantry regiment "Verona"
    • 1a Infantry company 1a Cp. fanteria
    • 2a Infantry company
    • 85a Mortar company (da 81)
  • 86. Infantry regiment "Verona"
    • 1a Infantry company 1a Cp. fanteria
    • 2a Infantry company
    • 86a Mortar company (da 81)
  • Artillery regimental group
  • 60. Mixed engineer battalion
  • Medical section
  • 20a Feld hospital
  • 105a Medical mixed transport section
  • Infantry Battalion "San Marco"[6]
  • 136. Giovani Fascisti Infantry Regiment (from 136th Division)
  • 340a Close support battery (65/17)
  • 18. Artillery battalion
  • 42. Artillery battalion
  • 14a Artillery battery (76/30 Mod. 15 Armstrong di Pozzuoli naval gun)
  • 33. Sapper battalion

Order of battle (24 May 1942)[edit]

  • 85. Infantry Regiment
  • 86. Infantry Regiment
  • 42. Artillery Regiment
  • 60. Mixed engineer battalion

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rediv60.htm
  2. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rgt/rgt85.htm
  3. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rgt/rgt86.htm
  4. ^ The Rise of the Wehrmacht: The German Armed Forces and World War, 2 Volumes, p.564, Samuel W. Mitcham, Praeger (June 30, 2008)
  5. ^ War in the Desert, Neil D. Orpen, p. 367, Purnell, 1971
  6. ^ http://www.feldgrau.com/sanmarco.html