16th Infantry Division Pistoia
|16th Infantry Division Pistoia|
16th Infantry Division Pistoia Insignia
|Active||1940 - 1943|
|Country||Kingdom of Italy|
|Branch|| Regio Esercito
(Royal Italian Army)
|Engagements||World War II|
|Pistoia Division collar insignia|
The 16th Infantry Division Pistoia was an auto-transportable infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was created by dividing the infantry division "Fossalta" in 1939. The Pistoia was classified as an auto-transportable division, meaning staff and equipment could be transported on cars and trucks, although not simultaneously.
The Pistoia division was mobilized in June 1940 as an infantry division and was sent to the French border and held in reserve for the Italian 1st Army. Original deployment was in the Varaita Valley. 20 June 1940, the Pistoia division was transferred to the Maddalena Pass, with only artillery regiment ending up at occupied French territory by July 1940. On 10 October 1941, the Pistoia division was partially motorized and sent to Athens, Greece in the end of July 1942.
North African Campaign
In September 1942, it began transferring to the positions in North Africa at the border with Egypt, finally taking responsibility for the Bardia-Sallum-Naqb al Halfayah defensive line. It failed to hold the positions after the severe British attack, starting 11 November 1942. After a long retreat, it was able to re-establish the defensive line at Mareth, from 4 February 1943. On 6 March 1943, the Pistoia division attacked the British positions en masse with the goal of disrupting British offensive preparations and trigger a premature counter-offensive, as part of the Battle of Medenine. After the attack failure, the Pistoia division fell back to the Mareth Line, leaving previous positions without a fight. When the British started the heavy attack 19 March 1943, it held the positions until 25 March 1943, but then retreated to El Hamma under the threat of being outflanked. The Pistoia division was targeted again by British forces on 5 April 1943, and again started to retreat 7 April 1943. By the time it reached Enfidha on 13 April 1943, the division was severely decimated. After a few days, despite some successful counter-attacks at the west of the Takrunah (Takrouna) road junction, the Allies had effectively put Pistoia division under siege. The last of its positions were overrun by 13 May 1943.
It was reforming in northern Italy in September 1943 when it was disbanded by the Germans.
Order of battle
- 35. Pistoia Infantry Regiment
- 36. Pistoia Infantry Regiment
- 3. Fossalta Artillery Regiment (mot)
- 16. Mortar Battalion
- 16. Anti-Tank Company
- 51. Engineer Battalion
- 111. Medical Section
- 210. Motor Transport Section
- 120. Supply Section
- 50. Bakery Section [nb 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 (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, and each company 150 men.
- Mulholland, John. "Axis Order of Battle 10 June 1940 - The Italian Invasion of France". Axis History. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- endel, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- Paoletti, p 170