Monte Cervino Battalion

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Monte Cervino Battalion
Active November 1915-1919/1940-1943
Country Italy
Branch Army
Type Air Assault Infantry
Role Alpini Special Operations Forces
Part of 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment
Garrison/HQ Verona (VR)
Motto(s) "Mai strac" (never tired)
Decorations 2 Gold Medals of Military Valor
1 Silver Medal of Military Valor

The Alpini Parachutist battalion Monte Cervino is the sole battalion of the Italian Army's 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment. The 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment is one of the Italian Army's (Forces for Special Operations) units. The Alpini are a mountain infantry corps of the Italian Army that distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. To this day, this is the only unit of "mountain paratroopers" in the world.[citation needed]

World War I[edit]

In November 1915, the Monte Cervino Alpini Battalion was raised in the village of Ivrea in northern Italy. Initially only fielding a single Alpini company (133rd Alpini Company "La nobile tonante"), it was augmented quickly by the 87th and 103rd Alpini Companies, which were reserve companies of the Aosta Alpini Battalion of the same regiment. After a short training regime in the village of Tirano, the battalion was sent in April 1916 to the Asiago plateau to reinforce the front, arriving just in time to feel the full brunt of the Austrian "Strafexpedition" offensive on the Asiago Plateau. After fierce fighting on May 15, the 103rd Company was overcome and had to surrender the Borcola Pass to the advancing Austrians. The 87th and 133rd Companies were able to withdraw from the advancing Austrians. With the commencement of the Italian counter-offensive, the remaining soldiers of the Monte Cervino fought in the Caldiera e Posina valleys.

In 1917, the battalion was employed on the Isonzo Front in a futile attempt to take Monte Vodice. In November of the same year, the battalion was tasked to defend the Melette di Gallio on the Asiago plateau against a renewed Austrian attack on the Asiago plateau. Afterwards, it was sent to the rear to rest and refit. In June 1918, the battalion defended the Monte Fior and Monte Castelgomberto mountains against the last Austrian attempt to break through the Italian lines on the Asiago plateau and thus open up a way into the Padan plain. Thirty officers and 1,000 Alpinis of the battalion died during the defence of Monte Fior - 2/3 of the unit's men at the onset of the Austrian offensive. For this sacrifice, the battalion was awarded Italy's second highest military order: the Silver Medal of Military Valor.

After being augmented with new recruits, the battalion spent the last months of the war on Monte Pasubio and later Monte Grappa. With the cessation of hostilities, the battalion was dissolved in 1919.

World War II[edit]

The battalion was reformed in 1940 as the Monte Cervino Ski-battalion ("Battaglione Sciatori Monte Cervino"), with the 1st and 2nd Ski Companies, and was sent as reinforcement to the crumbling Italian front on the Albanian border with Greece. After the German invasion of Greece and subsequent cessation of hostilities, the battalion was dissolved in May 1941. For the successful operations in the Greek theatre, the battalion was awarded Italy's highest military order: the Gold Medal of Military Valor.

Five months later, the battalion was again reformed, and with two ski companies and the 80th Support Weapons Company, was sent to the Soviet Union as part of the Italian Army in Russia. There, the battalion distinguished itself in heavy combat with Soviet forces in the Italian campaign on the Eastern Front, barely escaping annihilation in the Battle of Nikolayevka. After its return to Italy in spring of 1943, the battalion was awarded its second Gold Medal of Military Valor. The battalion was then assigned to the XX Alpini Skier Group, but did not participate in combat. The battalion surrendered to German forces in France in September 1943 after the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces.

The Cold War[edit]

During the Cold War, the IV Alpine Army Corps in Bolzano raised an Alpini Parachutist Platoon in all five of its brigades. The first to become active was the platoon of the Alpine Brigade Tridentina, which officially was added to the brigade's unit roll on September 1, 1952. That platoon was quickly followed by platoons raised in the Alpine Brigade Julia, Alpine Brigade Taurinense, Alpine Brigade Cadore and Alpine Brigade Orobica. On April 1, 1964, the five platoons were merged into an Alpini Parachutist Company (COMPALPAR), under the direct command of the IV Alpine Army Corps. On January 1, 1990, the company received the name Monte Cervino and became the heir to the battalion's colours and traditions. In 1993, the company was sent to Mozambique as part of the Italian contribution to the United Nations Operation in Mozambique.

On July 14, 1996, the Alpini Parachutist Company Monte Cervino became the first company of the reformed Alpini Parachutist Battalion Monte Cervino, which quickly augmented its personnel by adding a second Alpini Parachutist Company. From 1997 onwards, the battalion was employed in Bosnia as part of SFOR. Beginning in 2002, the battalion was constantly present with at least a company of troops in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force.

Today[edit]

On September 25, 2004, the Monte Cervino became the sole battalion in the reformed 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment. Today, the 4th Alpini Parachutist Regiment is one of the Italian Army's (Forces for Special Operations) units. Its structure is as follows:

  • CoA mil ITA rgt alpini 004.png Regimental Command
    • Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png Command and Logistic Support Company Aquile
    • Nappina blu - Comando Alpino.png Alpini Battalion Monte Cervino
      • Nappina blu - Comando Alpino.png 1st Alpini Parachutist Company
      • Nappina blu - Comando Alpino.png 2nd Alpini Parachutist Company
      • Nappina blu - Comando Alpino.png 3rd Alpini Parachutist Company

As one of the best trained and equipped units of the Italian Army the Alpini Paracadutisti have recently served in Iraq and one company is constantly deployed to Afghanistan.


External links[edit]