Italy War Engagement During the Second World War Part 1
From Italy’s entry into the war to the coup d’etat of 25 July 1943. – On 10 June 1940 the Italian forces began hostilities giving rise to the set of operations constituting the so-called Battle of the Alps (see in this App.). After the armistice with France he inclined to believe in the ease of victory; orders were even given for the dismissal of officers and soldiers. The war, at least in the terrestrial field, was moving away from Italy, where few large units remained. However, the subsequent course of the war imposed, step by step, the problem of the direct defense of insular and peninsular Italy, and in the years between 1941 and 1943, an impetus was therefore given to the organization of coastal defense in Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and later on the coast of the continent. The potential shortcomings of the country immediately appeared serious: industries not equipped for war, deficient raw materials, antiquated and insufficient armament and equipment, the problem of ammunition serious, harmful privileges and exemptions in the calls to arms of personnel. While German elements flowed into Italy to contribute to the organization of the defense, the same structure of the coastal defense, the vain and unnerving waiting for an attack that never occurred, the long stay in the same localities, often coinciding with the headquarters of the interests of the singles, created a mentality that led many to territorialize and settle down if not to abandon themselves to discouragement and pessimism also due to the terrifying effects of the aerial bombardments which were becoming more and more violent.
From 25 July 1943 to 8 September 1943. – As of 25 July 1943, the Germans had 7 divisions in Italy – 3 armored and one paratrooper – an armored brigade and autonomous groupings of loose elements, units divided between Tuscany, Campania, Puglia and the islands. The troops deployed in Sicily had suffered considerable losses and were recovering personnel and material; complements were in full flow, so that by the end of August all the units were completely rearranged. The troops were employed by the OBS (Oberbefehl Süd) stationed in Frascati (general A. Kesselring), in turn dependent on the Germanic supreme command and only nominally on the Italian one.
They formed mobile maneuvering masses to support the coastal cover. An increase in these forces, in view of possible landings, had been requested during the Feltre conference (19 July 1943), but the German representatives had explicitly declared that they could not join. Due to its organic constitution and its location this mass was not able to control the Italian territory, and it is therefore to be assumed that, at least until 25 July, it had exclusively operational functions.
According to ALLCOUNTRYLIST.COM, the coup d’état that led to the collapse of fascism took place on 25 July 1943. Everyone was led to wonder what the ally would have thought of it, even if the declaration contained in a proclamation by Marshal Badoglio (“the war continues”) was intended to be an element in itself clarifying. But it took only a few hours to get a clear sense of how Germany judged the event.
On 26 July at dawn, the 44th German Infantry Division and the 136th Mountain Brigade arrived at Brenner and on the 29th they forced it into combat formation, occupied Alto Adige, imposed the continuation of their transport to the south, established detachments on communication lines and at industrial plants, and issued an occupation currency. Overall, the following flowed: a) from France: 76th, 94th, 305th divisions destined for Liguria and the 2nd paratroopers destined for Lazio; b) from Germany: 44th division and 136th mountain brigade for Alto Adige; 65th and 24th battleship divisions and SS. Hitler, destined for the Emilian Apennines.
At the same time the forces displaced in Sicily flowed towards Calabria, those displaced in Campania radiated and extended the occupation, those displaced in Sardinia and Corsica, concentrated, asked to be able to compete for coastal coverage (see fig. 1). And there was no doubt that Germany had the intention of occupying Italy, an operation that cannot be considered improvised but conceived and organized previously. In the following days, the German supreme command adopted measures which in the space of three weeks led to the concentration in Italy of huge forces, in areas coinciding with those in which the Italian divisions were located, which thus came in a short time to find themselves encapsulated and paralyzed (see. fig. 2). The attitude was masked with the intention of jointly defending Italy, but at the same time 4 other divisions were announced on arrival (2 from the Innsbruck area and 2 from the Klagenfurt area). The Germans confirmed this concept in the Tarvisio (6 August) and Bologna (15 August) conferences to justify their work, adding that they intended to set up two reserve masses on the Apennines and in Liguria and asking to be able to contribute to the protection of communications and plants in upper Italy.
By August 10 the second to parachute division from France put her out of Rome and the 3rd Armored Division, from Orvieto, he sent a group of reinforcing combat (dislocated the Alban Hills), complementing itself with units from Germany and reached the strength of 24,000 men and over 600 tanks. Thus two armored mobile masses were formed north and south of Rome. Finally, the Germans warned that Marshal E. Rommel had been appointed commander of the forces of upper Italy (Armed Group B).