Italian Victories In Ww2, Are There Any..

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by liba85, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    Gallipoli was a failed gamble, but if succesfull would have been a major victory, leadership did matter but as far as I know the failure was basically due to mistaken expectations that the Turks would break. Caporetto was basically a failure of command, Badoglio's orders to withhold fire "to conserve ammo" and the command and communications breakdown, which as corps commander he was responsible for, led to the disintegration of his corps that in turn forced a global retreat of the whole front.
    At Caporetto the same troops that had bravely assaulted strong Austrians mountain positions for years proved unable to react effectively in a more fluid environment, this was to happen time and again in WW2. IMHO the key weakness was in command, as long as they held the initiative the badly led Italian soldiers were reasonably effective, though likely to suffer heavy losses due to unimaginative planning, the results of the CSIR in the USSR in 1941 are comparable to similar German units, but in defensive battles the lack of effective leadership made the forces extremely brittle. Some units made of high quality troops made up for this lack by low level initiative, but the bulk of the conscript units were likely to shatter in a confused situation.
    Also significant is that the Italian line soldier fought at a firepower advantage against most of his opponents due to poor choices in infantry weapons, only the medium mortars were on a par with foreign equipment, the rifles, grenades, machine guns, light mortars, and anti tank guns were all poor designs, and the Beretta SMG was much to expensive to produce for widespread distribution, which wasn't likely to contribute to morale. The low firepower practically prevented effective infiltration tactics as the squads lacked the firepower to operate unsupported practically forcing the use of more costly linear attacks.

    What is amazing in Badoglio's note of July 1940 is:
    - 1) He was convinced that understanding the capabilities of mechanized forces was not a priority.
    - 2) He truly believed the war would be over in a few weeks.
  2. Avigliana

    Avigliana Active Member


    Thanks very much for your constructive reply. In one of my earlier posts 22/04-16.49. I put a number of bullet points together.
    Numbers 1, 2, 3. I am in total agreement about poor or non existant leadership, poor supply of adequate weapons.
    At the same time they were practically fighting a civil war at home, and perhaps a large number of the Italian soldiers did not want to die for a cause
    in which they did not believe in. Having said that, they suffered heavy casulties in the campaign in Russia. They were a tough nut to crack on The Mareth Line.
    Number 5. Italy has always been divided, the rich Industrial North carrying their poor relations from the South.

    So at the end I must agree with most of your comments.

  3. Combover

    Combover Guest

    The Italian Navy was remarkably effective despite their leaders' desire not to sacrifice the larger ships. One only has to look at the actions of the smaller ships to see how much they managed to keep the Royal Navy in check in numerous actions in the Med.

    Reference the successes achieved by the Spica Class Torpedo Boats for an idea of just how well the Italian Navy could fight.
  4. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    I know some may guffaw at the title of this post, but take a moment to consider the Japanese army. Many would say that Japan was primarily a sea power, but its army was formidible as well.
    > yes in numbers...and beyond a certain ratio , numbers are matter what high tech rifles you place against .... 10 men with M16 can stop 50 men with bolt action rifles...but not 1000.

    They defeated many European powers, notably in the Philippines, HK, Malay and Singapore, despite being what some have termed as a "world war one army".
    > again..numbers, numbers...wave after wave.(and the "small" army of Yamashita has proved to be a myth..)...and AIR DOMINANCE (!).

    Despite having virtually no armor or heavy weapons,
    > oh, but they had light armor..that functioned decisively..when there is no anti tank opposition at all...
    > heavy artillery was at hand..old school models. but the 1908 model artillery functioned extremely well. The dutch army pounded the german paras to smithers in 1940 Den Haag area too..
    >Nothing wrong with old model artillery.
    > and you miss again..AIR DOMINANCE...

    the Japanese managed to come up with a winning model. They had no logisitics,
    >huh ? no ? logistics ?
    depended on foraging and looting instead,
    >no, not particularly, the jap soldier lives on rice.. that was cheap and at hand everywhere.

    they made many of their kills by sword or bayonet
    >nonsense..the "many" bajonet, sword kills were the POW or just taken in surrenderers...that doesnot account as a classic banzai attack which you may unintentionally hint with.

    instead of bullets, and managed to route Western armies.
    > again..smaller units, less equipment, little support, no manouvering capability, strained wareconomies, sometimes hostile locals...and air planes..many air planes..

    Could the Italians then have come up with a military model and doctrine that would make them an effective fighting force?
    > yes..they did the same in Eritrea...OVERWHELM a demoralised small ineffective obsolete "army".

    The main element they lacked was not arms or numbers but leadership and a strong underlying vision.
    > oh, there was leadership, and vision..but unlike the japs vs the brits, the Italians did not "hate" the brits, and they only despised the locals.
    and the greeks HATED the Italians even more (and defended mountain areas).

    I thought it may be an interesting thought-experiment to try and come up with one. Let's deal strictly with the resources they had or could produce since it was beyond their means to mass produce tanks or APCs.
    hen one considers the environment though, it is no easy task; as Lawrence of Arabia noted, the desert is an ocean in whcih one dips no oar; with its vast expanses, foot soldiers were useless. Mobility was key.
    > or numbers and planes in a zero infrastructure environment.
    How then could the Italian army be effective in these conditions? Perhaps if they fielded an army of motorcycle riding infantry? (Yamashita used bicycles in Malaya, but i don't think a bicycle would work in the desert!).
    >The japs on bikes worked to move armee over distances when there is no opposition. And bikes and rice were cheaper and lighter than trucks and petrol..and the roads were fine.
    But where the jap bikers faced an ambush..they were mowed down faster than a marching troop. No question.

    You can fire from a motorcycle, so the spectre of 5,000 Italians riding toward you firing machine guns is a daunting image!
    >the MG on german sidecar motors were not and never used as "minitanks"...

    Or.... how about a different concept. Convince Il Duce to give up on holding far-flung desert territory. The new Roman empire could be symbolic. Italy could play to its strengths by making a Mediterrannean empire centered on islands of the Med and a few port cities in Libya. These could be held by an expeditionary force specialized in urban warfare and supplied/reinforced by the Italian navy.
    > for what gain ?

  5. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

  6. arnhem44

    arnhem44 Member

    And from what I remember in statistics they have suffered the LEAST mortal casualties (soldiers and civilians) of any other WW2 conflict country *. Both in totals per day, as in percentage of population !

    * but really a country in the thick of it with fighting taking place on its own land.
    So USA , Brasil and Luxemburg don't count...
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    Nor do Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, Norway, Thailand, etc. etc. etc.
    Getting an exact figure of Italian war losses is hard as the deaths in the internal fighting are badly documented and MIA in the USSR still a matter of debate.
  8. Avigliana

    Avigliana Active Member

    National Holiday in Italy- Liberation Day 25/04/1945

    I have transferred this story to
    Liberation day in Italy 25th Of April?
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    I firmly disagree with this assumption.

    Rice may have been plentiful in China and SE Asia but it did not grow on the islands of the Pacific. It had to be brought in by ships. The IJN's inability to find the necessary 300,000 tons of shipping to service the Solomons Campaign forced the decision by the Japanese to evacuate Guadalcanal. General Miyazaki gave testimony postwar that only about 20% of the supplies dispatched from Rabaul to Guadalcanal ever reached the latter and about 10,000 men starved to death.

    Guadalcanal was early in the war. The situation got worse as the Pacific war wore on and starvation was a very real threat to the effectiveness of the Japanese Army whose logisitics planning for the early campaigns included assumptions that their combatants were to forage for food where none ultimately existed.
    Drew5233 and Combover like this.
  10. I used to joke with my friend's that the Italians were like a weathervane during WW2. I think it has remained a staple of British humour. What's the truth of this? I've seen the thread about Italian military effectiveness but if anyone also wants to post their thoughts about the reality of the Italian army's part in the war, do please feel free.

  11. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day josh&historyland,m, changeable as the wind! the italians did not like being at war.they would surrender by the thousand when they were up against the desert rats.they had a saying.they were lovers not warriors,they made good prisoners of war,they did not try to escape.interesting post,regards bernard85
  12. Thanks very much as always Bernard, your thoughts are much appreciated. I have been reading up on Italian Renaissance army's and its interesting to note, how many of them had a much different approach to war than say the French, Spanish or English.

  13. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    I have always felt that whilst the Italian Army was the butt of much humour (and some of it, frankly, was hardly undue), you could not say this of the Folgore Division and you certainly could not say it of the Italian Navy's frogmen - especially the charioteers.
    Drew5233 likes this.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Never having been too close to the Italian resistance - we often heard of good things about their Artillery and some of their Armoured divisions- and many of

    their groups attached to British units at the back end of the Italian Campaign- main trouble was being very badly led in the desert with the Officers having

    a luxurious life style while the men had old equipment to fight a more modern 8th Army - their midget submarines did a fantastic job in closing down the

    Med fleet…in main ports….That took guts…

  15. ufficiale

    ufficiale New Member

    Two recent books deal with Italian victories in Africa 1940-43:

    Folgore Parachute Division: North African Operations 1940-43

    The North African campaign was one of the hardest fought episodes of the Second World War, yet the vital part played by the Italian Army - and in particular, its Folgore Parachute Division on behalf of the Axis Alliance - is frequently overlooked. Initially created to emulate the German Fallschirmjäger in order to carry out the planned airborne attack against the British base of Malta, Folgore Airborne Division fought on the battlefields of North Africa - including the key Battle of El Alamein. This elite unit distinguished itself at El Alamein despite inadequate equipment and weapons while facing unfavorable odds. This book describes a paratroop unit that earned the respect of its Allied opponents during some of the hardest-fought engagements of North Africa. The key theme of the book is the paratroopers’ involvement in the Axis war effort through an analysis of their training, weaponry and battle tactics. Another key focus is an assessment of the Folgore's specific role during the major battles of the North African campaign.The volume draws heavily upon both Axis and Allied (Britain and New Zealand) archival sources such as the war diaries and the post-battle reports of the military units engaged in North Africa. It thus sheds new light into one of the most important campaigns of the Second World War. By drawing from archival sources from both sides, it also furnishes a more complete and balanced perspective on a critical juncture in the war such as the Battle of El Alamein.

    The First Victory: The Second World War and the East Africa Campaign

    Surprisingly neglected in accounts of Allied wartime triumphs, in 1941 British and Commonwealth forces completed a stunning and important victory in East Africa against an overwhelmingly superior Italian opponent. A hastily formed British-led force, never larger than 70,000 strong, advanced along two fronts to defeat nearly 300,000 Italian and colonial troops. This compelling book draws on an array of previously unseen documents to provide both a detailed campaign history and a fresh appreciation of the first significant Allied success of the war.

    Andrew Stewart investigates such topics as Britain’s African wartime strategy; how the fighting forces were assembled (most from British colonies, none from the U.S.); General Archibald Wavell’s command abilities and his difficult relationship with Winston Churchill; the resolute Italian defense at Keren, one of the most bitterly fought battles of the entire war; the legacy of the campaign in East Africa; and much more

  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place.... Patron

    This is a bit of a zombie thread but to add my 2p

    One lessons that could be learned from the history of Italy between 1815 and 1940 was that you could emerge the winner from war, even if you lost the important battles, as long as you were on the winning side. It well worked enough for Victor Emanuel and in WW1. Despite picking the wrong side in WW2, the legal Italian government ended up with the winning United Nations.

    It wasn't entirely irrational for Mussolini to build armed forces that looked better than they were. A bit like a Lancia car, the problems were internal and in the rust prone components!
    There were some Italian tactical victories. The action at Bir El Gubi by the Ariete CVivision against 22 Armoured Brigade is seen as a success.

    As a co-belligerent the Italians had mixed fortunes. By winter 1944-45 there was a two division corps with Italian Infantry and the artillery from 1st British Armoured Division organised in a similar fashion to other British native corps. I think the acquitted themselves reasonably well. Richard Lamb who served with the Italian corps writes a positive view here
  17. ufficiale

    ufficiale New Member

    Good points. Richard Lamb wrote some important works on the topic. John Gooch also wrote important works but mostly concentrated on WW1

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