8th Italian army: what happened in the battle of Stalingrad

History 04/01/20 8th Italian army: what happened in the battle of Stalingrad

In December 1942, during Srednekanskiy offensive was defeated by the 8th Italian army.

Six of the Italian divisions, plus the remnants of three German and Romanian units were literally swept away by the impact of the four Soviet armies of the southwestern and Voronezh fronts. In 1942 the Red Army had not so many successful offensive operations, they can be easily counted on the fingers of one hand, and therefore they are of interest for the study.

In operation little Saturn, the decisive factor for success was the weakness of the Italian troops.

the Italian army in the Second World

the Epigraph to the story about the Italian army could be two anecdote of the First World war. The first read:

Kaiser asked the chief of the General staff: “whose side will speak Italy?” And he answers: “This question is not so important. If they are against us, we need ten divisions to defeat them. If they favor us, we need ten divisions to support them”.

Another anecdote:

– why do we need Italian army?
– who was to defeat the Austro-Hungarian army.

the beginning of the Second World war, the situation has not changed. And although Italy was a major, industrialized country in which developed sophisticated models of weapons in all branches of the armed forces was still far in the first place among the European countries.

the Great ships, combat aircraft of its own design, samples of artillery and small arms on the modern global level, existed in miniscule amounts, and then only on paper. Most of the artillery was Austrian and got the Italians after the First World war, tanks and planes was very small.

ambitious plans for Mussolini ran across that to get Bonposabnie strength could be hard, and they still suffered defeat, even against such an opponent, as the Greek army.

the Italian expeditionary force on the Eastern front in its capabilities did not stand out among the contingents impoverished Romania, constrained by the limits of Hungary and even tiny Slovakia.

the Italians on the don

during the attack on Stalingrad, the German high command, to cover the flanks used the allied troops. 8th Italian army occupied a 240 km front between the Romanian and Hungarian troops. The detailed composition of the army described in the book by V. G. Safronov, “Italian troops on the Eastern front. 1941-1943 g.”.

as part of the 8th army had ten divisions, one of them was used to guard the rear. Among others were three of the Alpine, which was originally intended for action in the Caucasus, two avtotransportnyh infantry (they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as motorized), two gornopehotnye, infantry and mobile (Divisione Celere).

All infantry divisions, though with the prefix of mining or car-, is no different and consisted of two infantry and artillery regiments. Instead of the third infantry regiment in the Italian divisions had to be Legion “blackshirt”. But the combat capability of these legions were still lower than normal infantry, and in most divisions they are simply not there.

the infantry of the division had little heavy weapons, and the state relied only eight anti-tank guns. Division, sent to the Eastern front, strengthened, and anti-tank battery three. But two of them were armed with 47-mm guns, which were even weaker than the German 37-mm “mallets” and against the Soviet tanks were useless. And attached to the divisions of a battery of six 75-mm guns (it was a German 7.5 cm Pak 97/38) the picture is not much changed.

the Only mobile division had two cavalry regiments, a regiment of Bersaglieri (motorcycle and two mechanized infantry battalion) and tank units of the 8th army tank battalion of two companies and a division ofhe self-propelled guns. In August 1942, the division was 31 light tank Carro Armato L6/40, 19 assault guns Semovente L6/40 da 47/32 and 8 armored cars Autoblinda AB.40. The Italians got to ten captured tanks T-34 and T-70, and probably given the trophy cars in December in the division were 30 tanks, despite the losses in previous battles.

in addition to the nine divisions within the 8th army were still separate parts: two Legion of “black shirts”, two cavalry regiment, an army and three of corps artillery group, antiaircraft group (all groups are equal shelf), three division 47-mm anti-tank guns.

Although during the fall the army did not conduct active operations, the loss still was, including non-combat: the patients in some parts was more than 20%. It was surprisingly little for the Italian army deserters, but this is easily explained: in the snowy steppes of the don two and a half thousand kilometers from Italy, wanting to jump a lot was not. The level of discipline was very low, the Italians from privates to senior officers rather dismissive attitude to their duties. Many frankly do not understand why they fight in Russia, especially in such harsh conditions.

as a result, the Italians didn’t even notice how right in front of them for two weeks on the beachhead was deployed several Soviet divisions, and induced three bridges on which the first day of the three Panzer corps crossed the don.

the Predictable end

the Historian Utash B. Ochirov, in his work “the Operation “Big Saturn”: a plan and possible implementation of” writes in detail about the ratio of forces to the beginning of the Soviet offensive. Italian Alpine corps and its three divisions were on the left flank and out-of-band of the Soviet offensive. Therefore, the main blow took six of the Italian divisions and 289-I German infantry who were in the second tier.

Against the Italians acted 1st guards army of the southwestern front and the 6th army of the Voronezh. In the composition of the two armies there were 11 infantry divisions, 3 tank corps, tank brigade and 4 independent tank regiments, a total of about 700 tanks. Supported infantry and tanks, artillery division, 14th artillery, and mortar 5 5 reactive artillery regiments.

In the second tier unfolded armored and mechanized corps. The vast majority of the Soviet units and formations were fully equipped and had arrived at the front. The Italian division was badly battered and had 60-70% of the full-time staff.

After eleven days of fighting, most of the Italian army, not a single combat-capable connection. In January was defeated and the Alpine corps.

the prisoner was 64 thousand Italians, about 21 thousand were killed and more than 30 thousand were injured and frostbitten. Approximately 45-46 thousands of Italians managed to withdraw, but it was not the army, just a crowd. They were flown to Ukraine, but this time Italy switched to the allied side and declared war on Germany.

V. Myasnikov in his work “Your are worse than others,” writes that all the Italians in Ukraine were disarmed and sent to concentration camps, and up to two thousand was almost immediately shot. Thus ended the story of the Italian army on the Eastern front.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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