26th Mountain Infantry Division Assietta

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26th Mountain Infantry Division Assietta
Active 1935 - 1943
Country Italy Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Branch Flag of Italy (1860).svgRegio Esercito
Royal Italian Army
Role Infantry
Size Division
Garrison/HQ Asti
Nickname(s) Assietta
Engagements Second Italo-Abyssinian War
World War II
Insignia
Identification
symbol
26 Infantry division assietta.jpg
Identification
symbol
Assietta Division collar insignia

The 26th Mountain Infantry Division Assietta was an Infantry Division (formed 6 August 1935) of the Italian Army during World War II. The Assietta Division was reorganized 5 April 1939 as a binary Mountain division.[1] Mountain Divisions are not to be confused with the "Alpini" specialized mountain troops. The Mountain divisions had pack horse artillery instead of the usual towed type.

Most men drafted in the Assietta Division came from Asti and surroundings.

Action[edit]

Second Italo-Abyssinian War[edit]

As the war become imminent, the 25th divisional artillery regiment was sent in September, 1935 to the Lybia, and transferred to Eritrea in March, 1936, to fight within the newly formed Assietta Infantry Division II (126a) which was dissolved later in 1937.

The Assietta division itself, receiving a 49th divisional artillery regiment instead of the missing 25th, have landed in Massawa in January, 1936. Soon it reached Endaga Robo-Enticho-Dek’emhāre region. Than it moved the headquarters to Mek'ele, guarding a front from Doghea to Kwīhā. The Assietta division has participated in the Battle of Amba Aradam in February, 1936, fighting mostly in defence. Some detachments of Assietta division were used to reinforce the left flank of the 27th Infantry Division Sila. 2 March 1939, it blocked a retreat routes of the Ethiopian army on the front from Yereserē to Edai. But the retreating Ethiopian army have bypassed the Asietta division, breaking through Italian lines further to the east in their push to Amba Alagi. The Assietta division, now used as rear areas guard force, followed in March–April, 1936 first to Aderat and Amba Alagi and than to Atzalo and Aiba. After the conclusion of war, it was used in June, 1936, for the mopping-up south of the Lake Ashenge. In July, 1936 it was transferred to unidentified location "Seggiù". The last duty assignment was in September, 1936 to the city of Dessie. The orders to return to Italy were received 2 February 1937.

Second world war[edit]

Following return to Italy, the Assietta division in March, 1937 was placed in Latina, Lazio, where it received back the 25th artillery regiment. Several reorganizations and detachments followed, until 5 April 1939, when the form of the new Assietta division has been settled. The newly reorganized division took part in the Italian invasion of France. It was then involved in the Invasion of Yugoslavia and soon after moved to Sicily. It was destroyed during the Allied landings.

Italian invasion of France[edit]

10 June 1940, the Assietta division have stayed on the border with France near mountain peaks Rochers Charniers, Grand Queyron, Mont Chaberton, the pass of Col de Montgenèvre, and valleyThuras. The advance on French territory have started 18 June 1940, with border post captured by surprise. By 20 June 1940, the division have moved past mountain crests, completing capture of mount Chenaillet and mount Sommet des Anges fortified area 22–23 June 1940, but further advance was stopped by the Franco-Italian Armistice 25 June 1940.

Invasion of Yugoslavia[edit]

At the start of April, 1941, the Assietta division was in the border town of Ajdovščina. 6 April 1941, it has moved to defensive positions at Javornik, Idrija. After the failure of the Yugoslavian army the division moved its headquarters to Delnice 20 April 1940, performing for a while mopping-up operations in the Gerovo-Karlovac-Lokve, Croatia region. As operations has been wrapping up, the division has moved to Ilirska Bistrica 6 May 1941 before departing for Italy 15 May 1941.

Defence of Scily[edit]

The location of Assietta division has changed during first half of August, 1941 to the western part of Sicily island as part of XII army corps. Initially, the headquarters were located in Caltanissetta and coastal defence sector have stretched from Porto Empedocle to Licata. 10 July 1943, the day of Allied invasion of Sicily, the division was in Santa Ninfa-Partanna area on the west of Sicily, but have started marching to Licata immediately. By the time the division was able to make a contact with the enemy, the rapid Allied advance resulted in battles in the Lercara Friddi area. Unable to cover the wide front against the numerous Allied troops, the Assietta division 15 July 1943 has to split in three roadblock groups near Bisacquino, blocking routes from Agrigento to Palermo. Unfortunately, the rapid crumbling of Italian defences elsewhere mean what a defensive line to be abandoned 16 July 1943. The division then fell back to the Cerda-Chiusa Sclafani line. Unlike other Italian units nearby, it maintained a constant contact with the enemy, constantly setting up a delaying battles. Attempt was made to make a stand 22 July 1943, but by the late evening 23 July 1943, the Allies have made a breakthrough, resulting in Italian run to Santo Stefano di Camastra. 29 July 1943, the division thought at San Fratello-Troina line. The nearby Battle of Troina was over 6 August 1943, and United States units have turned their forces to the battered Assietta division again. Initial armor attack to San Fratello and mount Pizzo degli Angeli was repulsed, but 7 August 1943, the Assietta has to fall back to Tortorici after Allied have made landing at the division rear in the Militello Rosmarino. By this time the division was severely crippled by heavy casualties and unfit for battle. The remains of it stayed in Messina area 11–14 August 1943, before being evacuated to the mainland.

Dissolution[edit]

It was being rebuilt in the North of Italy in Asti when the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces was signed and surrendered to the Germans.[2]

Order of Battle 1935[edit]

  • 38th Infantry Regiment "Ravenna"
  • 63rd Infantry Regiment "Cagliari"
  • 49th Artillery Regiment
  • 504th Medium Machine Gun Battalion
  • Engineers Company
  • Replacements Battalion
  • Each Army Division in the Ethiopian Campaign had a Pack-Mules unit of 3000 mules and three Regimental Trucks units (20 light trucks each).
  • Assietta was a Binary Division (2 Infantry Rgts only)

Order of battle 1940[edit]

  • 29. Pisa Infantry Regiment
  • 30. Pisa Infantry Regiment
  • 17. CCNN Legion (Blackshirts)
  • 25. Assietta Artillery Regiment
    • 5 x Battalion
  • 10. Anti Aircraft Battery
  • 326. Anti Aircraft Battery
  • 26. Mortar Battalion
  • 126. Mortar Battalion
  • 126. Anti-Tank Company
  • 64. Pioneer Company
  • 26. Signal Company
  • 16. Medical Section
  • 9. Field Hospital
  • 10. Field Hospital
  • 151. Field Hospital
  • 468. Field Hospital
  • 262. Heavy Motor Transport Section
  • 18. Supply Section
  • 31. Bakery Squadron
  • 51. Pack Transport Section [2][nb 1]

Notes[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ An Italian Infantry Division 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.[3]
Citations
  1. ^ http://www.regioesercito.it/reparti/fanteria/rediv26.htm
  2. ^ a b Wendal, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  3. ^ Paoletti, p 170
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9. 

External links[edit]