65th Infantry Division Granatieri di Savoia

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65th Infantry Division Granatieri di Savoia
Active 26 December 1939 – 19 May 1941
Country Italy
Branch Italian Army
Type Infantry
Size Division
Nickname(s) Granatieri di Savoia
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
General Amedeo Liberati

The 65th Infantry Division "Grenadiers of Savoy" (Italian: Granatieri di Savoia) was an infantry division of the Italian Army (Regio Esercito Italiano) during World War II. It was created 12 October 1936 in Latina and was officially dissolved 20 April 1941 in Soddu, Ethiopia.[1]

Action[edit]

Ethiopia garrison duty[edit]

In November 1936, the division was transferred to Addis Ababa, the capital of Italian East Africa. The Granatieri di Savoia were used for mopping-up at Shewa Kifle Hāger and Addis Ababa. Also, they provided protection to the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railroad. In February 1938, the greandier brigade under divisional command was dissolved and grenadier regiments were placed under direct divisional control. Also, some units were detached for the police duties at Blue Nile, Debre Sīna, Sendafa and Ādīs ‘Alem until 10 June 1940. In May 1940, the division was reinforced by 11th CCNN legion comprising two battalions. As dangers at the beginning of the Second World War multiplied, several divisional units were attached but was always physically separate from the rest of division. The 11th CCNN legion, 65th Heavy machine gun battalion and 5th artillery battalion (armed with Canon de 105 mle 1913 Schneider) were permanently posted at the border with British Somaliland. Another CCNN battalion and training battalion were posted on the border with Sudan. Also, the Bersaglieri battalion from 11th Grenadier Regiment was posted at Jimma to cover the western borders.

Second Sino-Japanese War[edit]

Prompted by the start of the Battle of Shanghai 13 August 1937, the Italy has dispatched a grenadier battalion from 10th regiment to Shanghai International Settlement 23 August 1937. It performed a police duties uneventfully until being recalled to Italy 28 December 1938.

Italian conquest of British Somaliland[edit]

All of divisional units who participated in the invasion were advancing to the French Somaliland border. They started advancing from Dire Dawa 3 August 1940 and reached coastal Zeila 6 August 1940, without encountering any resistance. The units then proceeded in two columns to Berbera, one through the Buuloxareed on coast, and another through Hargeisa. The progress of the column on Buuloxareed route was significantly hindered by incessant coastal bombardment by British ships, but inland column have reached front-line 15 August 1940, contributing to the capture of the fortifications near Cadaadley (Tug Argan). By that time the British have already decided to left the colony.[2] After 3-days fighting with British rearguard, the soldiers of Granatieri di Savoia have entered already abandoned Berbera 19 August 1940.

Skirmishes on Sudan border[edit]

The training battalion (comprising two machine gun companies, infantry company and mortar company armed with da81) was located north-west of Lake Tana, and 2nd battalion of the 11th CCNN legion was at Gondar. In the aftermath of the less-than-successful Capture of Kassala, the elements of 10th Indian Infantry Brigade have captured the border fort Qallābāt near Metemma, but retreated after facing superior Italian ground and air forces.[3]

Defence of Ethiopia (1941)[edit]

After the Emperor Selassie have returned to Ethiopia 18 January 1941, the last units of Granatieri di Savoia have finally left Addis Ababa to cover as many threats by insurgents and foreign powers as possible. The divisional command and heavy machine gun battalion have taken positions along Awash River. The machine gun company, 2nd and 3rd close support battalions (armed with 65mm cannons) took positions at Amba Alagi. The bulk of the forces (10th and the 11th Grenadier regiments, the 11th CCNN legion, 1st close support battalion (armed with 65mm cannons) and 4th artillery battalion (armed with 100mm howitzers) were stationed in the border with Eritrea. The 5th artillery battalion (armed with 105mm cannons) was stationed around Dire Dawa for over a year.

The main force got hit first. As Battle of Keren have started 5 February 1941, the Granatieri di Savoia have mostly held a positions and counter-attacked, resulting in British attack failure by 13 February 1941. Subsequently, the British forces has paused for a month to gather more troops and supplies. Renewed British attack from 15 March 1941 have not penetrated initially, but 27 March 1941 the British armor have penetrated Italain defences and were rampant on the Keren plain, forcing Italians to fall back. The retreat have failed, and British have destroyed or forced to surrender Italian garrisons at Adi Tekelezan 1 April 1941. Consequently, Massawa fell 8 April 1941.

5th artillery battalion in Dire Dawa region has failed simultaneously. After heavy fighting for 17 March 1941 to 27 March 1941, the last remnants of the battalion were overrun around Harar. The line of defence along Awash River was reached by strong enemy forced by the end of March 1941. After several delaying battles by Italian machine gunners, the defence line was penetrated to such an extent, what 3 April 1941 the command of Granatieri di Savoia ordered a retreat to Galla-Sidamo Governorate to prevent a complete encirclement. Italian forces were concentrating first to Shashamane and then at Sodo. 20 April the surviving elements of divisional command and machine gunners were blended with the remnants of the 25th Colonial Infantry Division.

The units of Granatieri di Savoia, entrenched at Togora Pass, Kalaga and Cerarsi around Amba Alagi have participated in the Second Battle of Amba Alagi from 21 April 1941 to 17 May 1941. The last elements of the Granatieri di Savoia Division surrendered on 19 May 1941 after their drinking water supply was destroyed.

Orders of Battle[edit]

Order of battle (1936)[edit]

  • 10. Granatieri di Savoia Grenadier Regiment
  • 11. Granatieri di Savoia Grenadier Regiment
  • 65. Heavy Machine gun battalion (36 machine guns in 4 companies)
  • 60. Field Artillery Regiment

Order of battle (1940)[edit]

  • 10. Granatieri di Savoia Grenadier Regiment
    • 1. Grenadier battalion
    • 2. Grenadier battalion
    • Alpine battalion "Uork Amba"
  • 11. Granatieri di Savoia Grenadier Regiment
    • 1. Grenadier battalion
    • 2. Grenadier battalion
    • Bersaglieri battalion
  • 60. Field Artillery Regiment
  • 11. Monteferato Blackshirt CCNN Battalion
  • Negelli Cavalry Battalion
    • 1. Cavalry squadron
    • 2. Cavalry squadron
    • 1. Motorized infantry company
  • 65. Heavy Machine Gun Battalion (36 machine guns in 4 companies)
  • 65. Combat Engineer Company [nb 1][5]

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.[4]
Citations
  1. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rediv65.htm
  2. ^ Playfair (1954), p. 177
  3. ^ Bill Slim. By Di Robert Lyman, p. 12
  4. ^ Paoletti, p 170
  5. ^ Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 

References[edit]

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