61st Infantry Division Sirte
|61st Infantry Division Sirte|
61st Infantry Division Sirte Insignia
|Active||1937 – 1941|
|Country||Kingdom of Italy|
|Engagements||World War II North African Campaign|
|Vincenzo della Mura|
The 61st Infantry Division Sirte was an auto-transportable Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Sirte Division was formed 9 May 1937 in Misrata, and destroyed 23 January 1941 east of Tobruk. The Sirte was classified as an auto-transportable division, meaning staff and equipment could be transported on cars and trucks, although not simultaneously.
The division was mobilized for action in October 1939. By 10 June 1940, the Sirte division was deployed on Tunisia-Libya border. In September 1940, it was part of the Italian XXII Corps that took part in the Italian invasion of Egypt, performing supply lines defence role behind Kambut and its airfields of RAF Gambut. At the start of Operation Compass 9 December 1940, the division was stretched from ‘Ayn al Ghazālah to hills south of Saqīfat az Za‘farānah. 8 January 1941, the parts of division were encircled and subject to heavy bombardment while still on the initial positions. At this point, the rest of Sirte division have started to retreat, but by 20 January 1940 the situation has become desperate, as British forces have managed to make several breakthrough, capturing a large swaths of the poorly manned second line of defences of Sirte division. It was completely overrun by 23 January 1941.
Order of battle
- 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.
- Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Paoletti, p. 170.