The Legione Redenta was an Italian military formation that participated in the Siberian Intervention during the Russian Civil War. It was formed with 2500 prisoners of war who had been captured by the Russians from the Austro-Hungarian Army.
With the Russian withdrawal from the war in 1918, German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners were allowed to return home as a result of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. Many of the Austro-Hungarian prisoners were of various nationalities reflecting the multi-ethnic composition of the empire.
A number of these prisoners were of Italian ethnicity, primarily from Trentino, Istria and Dalmatia (Italian nationalists considered these areas part of the Italia irredenta). The Italian government decided to form units from these prisoners (even because many of them declared to be Italian irredentists). They were allowed to fight for Italy and swore an oath to the King of Italy.
They were placed in a special new military unit called "Legione Redenta": this name was related to the word "redenta" (Italian for "redeemed") as a reference to the fact that the soldiers were "redeemed" from Austrian control and now were Italian legionaries.
As a result, the "Legione Redenta" was created in the summer of 1918 in China and attached to the "Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Estremo Oriente" (Italian Expedition in the Far East). Initially they were stationed in the Italian Concession in Tientsin. They were trained in Tientsin by Major Cosma Manera, an official of the Italian Carabinieri who chose the name "Redenta" for the unit.
Irregular Brigate Savoia
The Italian legionaries were divided in 2 groups, one with black ribbons the other with red ribbons.
Those with the red ribbons were recruited initially by Andrea Compatangelo in an irregular Brigate Savoia and after heavy fighting, occupied the important railway hub of Krasnojarsk for nearly two months before reaching Tientsin in summer 1918.
- Italian troops in Siberia and Manchuria (in Italian)
- Prigionieri "irredenti" in Russia (in Italian)
- Headquarters building of Italy in Tientsin
- First World War - Willmott, H.P.; Dorling Kindersley, 2003, Page 251
- A History of Russia, 7th Edition, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky & Mark D. Steinberg, Oxford University Press, 2005
- La Legione Redenta del maggiore Cosma Manera (in Italian)
- Compatangelo and his "Savoia" irregulars (in Italian)
- Mautone, Antonio. Trentini ed Italiani contro l'Armata Rossa. La storia del Corpo di Spedizione in Estremo Oriente e dei Battaglioni Neri. Temi editrice. Trento, 2003
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- Stevenson, David. World War First - A Global History. Rizzoli. Milano, 2004 ISBN 88-17-00437-5