Royal Italian Army

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Regio Esercito Italiano
Royal Italian Army
Flag of Italy (1860).svg
War Flag of the Regio Esercito
Active1861–1946
Country Italy
AllegianceKing of Italy
TypeArmy
Size5,000,000 (1915)
1,600,000 (1939)
3,500,000 (1943)
Part ofItalian Armed Forces
ColorsGreen, White and Red
Anniversaries4 November
EngagementsItalian War of Independence
Mahdist War
Italo-Ethiopian War (1895–96)
Boxer Rebellion
Italo-Turkish War
World War I
Pacification of Libya
Italo-Ethiopian War (1935–36)
Spanish Civil War
Italian invasion of Albania
World War II
Commanders
Ceremonial chiefFirst Marshal of the Empire
Notable
commanders
Victor Emmanuel II,
Pietro Badoglio,
Luigi Cadorna,
Armando Diaz
Alfredo Guzzoni

The Royal Italian Army, also known as the Regio Esercito, was established during the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy. During the 1800's Italy started to unify into one country and in 1861, Manfredo Fanti signed a creation decree which created the Army of the Two Sicilies. This newly created army first task was to defend against the repressive power in southern Italy. The Army of Two Sicilies combated against criminals and other armies during this time of unification. After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army (Esercito Italiano). The Esercito Italiano has a website and social media accounts, as the militia is still active today.

Within the Italian Royal Army are the elite mountain military corporals called, the Alpini. The Alpini are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world. Their original mission was to protect and secure Italy's northern mountain border that aligns with France and Austria. This group emerged in World War I when a three year campaign was fought against the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserjager and the German Alpenkorps. Again in World War II the Alpini fought alongside Axis forces in the Eastern Front as well as the Balkans Campaigns.[1]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Regio Esercito dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, following the unification of Italy in 1861 after the Papal States were seized. On 4 May 1861, Manfredo Fanti signed the creation decree, by which the new army was to replace the previous Royal Sardinian Army and the Army of the Two Sicilies.

The first two tasks of the new organization were the repression of brigandage in southern Italy against irregular and hit and run forces (mixed with bands of various criminals), who refused to accept the suppression of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and the Third War of Italian Independence. On 20 September 1870, the IV Corps captured Rome, which had remained under Papal control up until then.

On 8 February 1885, a corps of fewer than 1,000 soldiers landed at Massaua, Eritrea, starting the creation of an Italian colonial empire. The Italian advance was halted at the Battle of Adwa by overwhelming Ethiopian forces. The following year, as part of the Italian collaboration with the international pacification program after the revolt against the Turkish domination in Cyprus, another corps disembarked at Candia. On 14 July 1900, another expeditionary force was constituted to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in defense of the European protectorates.

On 3 October 1911, Italy invaded Libya as part of the Italo-Turkish War. The war against the Ottoman Empire ended with the signing of the First Treaty of Lausanne in Ouchy, near Lausanne, Switzerland.[2][3]

Military Justice in the Royal Italian Army[edit]

In the Italian Royal Army, military justice was applied on the based of the 1870 Military Penal Code regulations. This regulation structure was very similar to the 1859 version which was inspired by the Sardinian military penal code of 1840 which preceded the Albertine Statute of 1848. These regulations and factors were determined to be inadequate in the face of direct war violence. In total, 4,028 death sentences were passed in the Royal Italian Army whereas 2,967 were issued absentia where 750 were followed through and completed and 311 were not. [4]

The Invasion of Cos: The Killing of 103 Royal Italian Army Officers[edit]

On October 3rd, 1943, German Naval vessels traveling the Aegean Sea were spotted by Italian lookouts along the northern coast. They alerted island command but the command was not alarmed because they had been notified by British surveillance who assured them the Germans had inadequate ships to complete a seaborn invasion. They also began to make excuses that the ships could be British transporting materials and reinforcements to the units already on the island.

While all the discussion occurred at the command post, three German units were invading the island. Within hours, German troops had slain the advanced Italian defense militia. There were 148 Italian soildiers and officers in Cos on the date of the attack. Many were killed during the initial attack, while others died in hospital or later in German prisons. [5]

World War I[edit]

The Royal Italian Army's first experience with modern warfare was in World War I, from 1915–1918. The war was fought mostly on the Italian Front in Northern Italy, costing the Italian Army serious casualties, including about 600,000 dead.

Interwar period[edit]

During the Interwar period, the army participated in the final subjugation of Libya, participated in the invasion of Ethiopia, provided troops and materials for the Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie) to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and participated in the Italian invasion of Albania.

World War II[edit]

The Regio Esercito (Royal Army) was one of the largest ground forces in World War II, during which it was one of the pioneers of the use of paratroopers.[citation needed] Many Italian divisions were reinforced by a MVSN Gruppo di Assalto of two battalions due to the small size of the divisions.

In 1943, Italy surrendered and split into the Italian Social Republic, which fielded its own army, the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (National Republican Army). On the other side was the Esercito Cobelligerante del Sud (Italian Co-Belligerent Army), the army of the Italian Royalist forces, fighting on the side of the Allies in southern Italy after the Allied armistice with Italy in September 1943.

The Kingdom was ultimately replaced by the Italian Republic in 1946, and the Royal Army accordingly changed its name to become the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army).

Timeline of History[edit]

  • 1861-The Regio Esercito dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, following the unification of Italy in 1861 after the Papal States were seized. On 4 May 1861, Manfredo Fanti signed the creation decree, by which the new army was to replace the previous Royal Sardinian Army and the Army of the Two Sicilies. The first two tasks of the new organization were the repression of brigandage in southern Italy against irregular and hit and run forces (mixed with bands of various criminals), who refused to accept the suppression of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and the Third War of Italian Independence.
  • 1870-September 20th the IV Corps capture Rome, which had remained under Papal control up until then.
  • 1885- On 8 February fewer than 1,000 soldiers landed at Massaua, Eritrea, starting the creation of an Italian colonial empire. The Italian advance was halted at the Battle of Adwa by overwhelming Ethiopian forces. The following year, as part of the Italian collaboration with the international pacification program after the revolt against the Turkish domination in Cyprus, another corps disembarked at Candia.
  • 1900- On July 14th another expeditionary force was constituted to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in defense of the European protectorates.
  • 1911- On 3 October Italy invaded Libya as part of the Italo-Turkish War. The war against the Ottoman Empire ended with the signing of the First Treaty of Lausanne in Ouchy, near Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • 1915–1918-The Royal Italian Army's first experience with modern warfare was in World War I. The war was fought mostly on the Italian Front in Northern Italy, costing the Italian Army serious casualties, including about 600,000 dead.
  • 1918-1939-During the Interwar period, the army participated in the final subjugation of Libya, participated in the invasion of Ethiopia, provided troops and materials for the Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie) to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and participated in the Italian invasion of Albania.
  • 1940-The Italian Royal Army had 1,630,000 men divided into 73 separate divisions. Out of these 73, there are 59 infantry divisions, six Alpini divisions, three Celere divisions, three armored divisions plus numerous Frontier Guard and coastal sector. The main cause of the Italian army’s suffering was due to inadequate equipment, weaponry and leadership. This deficiency ultimately led to numerous defeats in the year 1940. [6]
  • The Regio Esercito (Royal Army) was one of the largest ground forces in World War II, during which it was one of the pioneers of the use of paratroopers.[citation needed] Many Italian divisions were reinforced by a MVSN Gruppo di Assalto of two battalions due to the small size of the divisions.
  • 1943- Italy surrendered and split into the Italian Social Republic, which fielded its own army, the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (National Republican Army). On the other side was the Esercito Cobelligerante del Sud (Italian Co-Belligerent Army), the army of the Italian Royalist forces, fighting on the side of the Allies in southern Italy after the Allied armistice with Italy in September 1943.
  • 1946-The Kingdom was ultimately replaced by the Italian Republic in 1946, and the Royal Army accordingly changed its name to become the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army).

Main campaigns[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "An Alpino in the Royal Italian Army". Library Trust Fund. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  2. ^ Treaty of Peace Between Italy and Turkey The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 7, No. 1, Supplement: Official Documents (Jan., 1913), pp. 58–62 doi:10.2307/2212446
  3. ^ "Treaty of Lausanne, October, 1912". Mount Holyoke College, Program in International Relations.
  4. ^ "Military justice in the Royal Italian Army". +100cal. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  5. ^ Blogger, Guest (28 April 2018). "The Invasion of Cos: The Killing of 103 Royal Italian Army Officers". WAR HISTORY ONLINE. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Royal Italian Army - Quartermaster Section". www.quartermastersection.com. Retrieved 20 April 2019.

External links[edit]