The Italian Military Enigma CSC 1988 SUBJECT AREA General THE ITALIAN MILITARY ENIGMA Eric G. Hansen Major, USMC 2 May 1988 Command and Staff College Education Center Marine Corps Combat Development Command Quantico, Virginia 22134 Title: The Italian Military Enigma Author: Major Eric G. Hansen, U. S. Marine Corps Date: 2 May 1988 Italy as a nation is famous for, among other things, its art, fashion, racing cars and beautiful women. Throughout its history great geniuses from da Vinci to Marconi have contributed immeasurably to the well-being of mankind. From Italian soil have emerged great Roman legions and military giants such as Napolean, Machiavelli and Garibaldi-men who have shaped the very course of history. In view of this great cultural and military heritage, one of the great enigmas, at least to the casual student of military history, is that of modern Italy's failure to produce a military system capable of effectively projecting the country's national policy. But more than that, why is it that Italy, among all those countries which have been relatively unsuccessful militarily, been singled out as being particularly inept? Has this judgment been passed just by Americans who base their views on hearsay, bad jokes and shallow knowledge, or is it also shared by other countries who base their criticism on the hard facts of history? In reality, one is not justified in making a definitive judgment of anything important without having delved into the facts of the matter. This seminar will therefore examine the Italian military system from its inception in the mid 1800s under a unified government to its present status as an important NATO ally. To that end, analyses and opinions of foreign as well as domestic Italian writers will be included in this seminar to provide a broad base of study. Political and social influences will be addressed in an attempt to determine their effect on Italian military performance. Perhaps the most important aspect of this seminar will be to determine if Italy has learned from its past mistakes and has corrected perceived and actual deficiencies. Along with the purpose of broadening the military officer's capability through the study of an important history, this seminar will make a judgment as to Italy's current capability of assisting in the defense of NATO's southern flank. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER TITLE PAGE Introduction 2 I The 19th Century and Italy's Unification 8 II Italy Enters World War I 17 III Italy Seeks Her National Identity Under Mussolini: The Tragedy of World War II 39 IV Operations In North Africa 57 V Near the End 71 VI Conclusion 80 Endnotes 87 Bibliography 90 INTRODUCTION Throughout history, Italy has held great fascination both for its would-be conquerors and its innocuous tourists. Its important geographic location in the Mediterranean has made it a target of invading armies since the beginning of recorded history. In fact, Italian language etymology readily identifies the influence that these occupying foreign cultures have exerted on modern-day speech. However, to study Italian linguistics is not the purpose of this paper, but rather to determine why, in light of its particularly strategic location, Italy failed to produce a modern military system (at least from the mid-l800s through World War II) which was capable of achieving its governments foreign policies when the resort to force required it. And why, among all those countries which have been relatively unsuccessful militarily, has Italy been singled out as being particularly inept?. The Italian military has, in fact, been the subject of historians' criticism, past allies' irritation and current American humor. Even those who know very little about military history can readily produce a joke dealing with some aspect of Italian military inability. There is common reference, for example, to Italian tanks which have one forward and three reverse gears, or to used Italian military rifles for sale which have "been dropped only once". Ethnic jokes are, of course, common, are not told maliciously, and many are admittedly funny, but this particular negative association between Italians and military capability nevertheless raises interesting questions. Martin Blumenson, the historian, in his 1988 address to the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, said that for history to be properly written, it must first be observed, then identified and finally judged. If we were to take Italian military history at face value and simply added up battles won and lost, without applying Mr. Blumenson's formula, we would find it to be very cruel indeed. As he indicates, there is more to studying military history than simply declaring winners and losers. A key issue for the student of history is why wars and battles are won and lost. Why was the United States, for example, so successful in World War II (especially the US Marine Corps) and yet so frustrated and ultimately unsuccessful in Vietnam? Why did we win most of the battles and yet lose the war? To determine, then, if an army is capable or inept, one must delve not only into how that army operates, but also into the important peripheral matters of its political and popular support. The purpose of this study, then, is to better understand the Italian military forces as well as to understand the political and social systems which determine the policies for their implementation and then thrust them into battle. As stated, these three areas are inseparable and must be studied in parallel. There are two ways of approaching a study of this type. One could select a significant battle, operation or war, and study in depth its command structure, operations orders, training, logistics, personnel losses, etc. Such a dissection serves to look into the heart of the military machine and allow a detailed understanding of its function; however, at the completion of such a study, one can only presume how the military system has functioned or will function in other battles. Because commanders change, and because no two situations in war are exactly the same, narrow selective analyses from which generalizations are drawn limit understanding of the broader issue. For that reason, I elected to cover a broad spectrum of time with the purpose of pursuing a more general study to determine trends both in Italian military operations and in the political support structure. With this approach, it will be readily apparent that details of battles are not provided (this will be pursued in future studies) ;rather, a very general overview will be given, followed by my analysis or that of military or political figures of the countries involved. The time period selected for this study begins in 1848 and ends in 1945. This period is significant because it encapsulates a segment of Italian history which is particularly tumultuous. This is not to say that periods prior to 1848 and subsequent to 1945 were not also wrought with confusion and instability, but for the purpose of studying military history, this period is representative of the difficulties that the Italian military system has always faced: It must be said at the outset that no earthshaking, Nobel Prize-winning discoveries were made during this research such as a war-losing gene found only in Italian chromosomes. But serious deficiencies both in the military and political structure surfaced throughout this time period, and they are both very interesting and very didactic. When studying the external influences which affect the efficiency of a military system, racial, regional and ethnic culture are important factors. The point is that, cultural influences affect the behavior of the soldier on the battlefield. Some cultures instill aggressiveness (or even fanaticism) in combat, while others seem to instill a more passive behavior. Iran is perhaps the primary example of fanaticism on the battlefield today. Religious extremism combined with unrelenting state propaganda result in a culture, the youth of which are willing to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks against the enemies of that culture. In contrast to this fanatical extreme are non-violent societies such as Iceland or Costa Rica which believe that having military forces invites aggression. They therefore possess no forces and can only hope that their allies will come to their rescue in the event of enemy attack. Most cultures and countries like Italy, are somewhere in between these two extremes. It is in these more moderate cultures where individualism prevails and where the influences of the state or of the prevailing religion are less pronounced. It is obvious that cultural and societal influences maybe cyclical and may change significantly from one year to the next. Iran is, again, the prime example; having transitioned from a semi-western society (at least in large cities and at the top of the societal pyramid) to a strict Islamic culture in a matter of months, it has assumed a totally new identity.. Although Italy has seen a great transition from city-states, to principalities, and finally to the unification of the peninsula in the last several hundred years, the culture has not made such drastic changes. The Catholic Church has remained a great unifying force and common thread among Italians especially since the final unification of Italy in 1870. The common language, even though somewhat modified from dialect-to-dialect, also binds the Italians in a common heritage. And, finally, the sense of isolation engendered by the large peninsula protected from the rest of Europe by the Alps gives the Italians a common identity. But the great dichotomy of the Italian culture is that, despite these unifying factors, there has always existed a divisive regionalism which has been viewed as a curse to both military success and political stability. And so, the fact remains that the Italian culture has not and does not, because of this regionalism, lend itself to military fanaticism or even, in many cases, to any interest in a strong national military system.. Fascism's attempt at military, social and economic glorification was forced on a population which, as will be seen, was willing to accept some of its benefits but rejected its precepts. We will also see, though, that some aspects of the culture, such as the particularly close family ties which are so typical of the Italians, had a bearing on the outcome of at least one of Italy's wars. The Italian has never had any real interest in politics or government except as they directly affect him and his family. This is not to say that there isn't also a sense of nationalism under the Italian flag, but regional loyalties have always been strong and remain so. Italians themselves admit that the Italian victory in the 1986 Soccer World Cup promoted greater national pride than any other event in recent history. A problem associated with the study of the Italian military system is that of stereotyping. More than any other military, that of the Italians is associated with failure. Admittedly, the Italians have lost many more battles than they have won, and there is the curious phenomenon of what often seems to be early surrender in many battles. The result is that the casual observer of history automatically equates the Italian military with weakness and the individual soldier with cowardice. Such conclusions are erroneous and are falsely deduced. That is not to say that, just as in any other army, there are not weaknesses and individual soldiers who are less than courageous, but before over-generalizing, an entire system including the political, must be studied to determine whv an army functions as is does and why the soldier either fights to the death or surrenders without using every means at his disposal to avoid defeat. Herewith is an attempt at such an analysis. CHAPTER I THE 19TH CENTURY AND ITALY'S UNIFICATION In 1848, Italy was still seeking its national identity. Since the Napoleonic wars which brought the French Army across the northern plains of Italy in 1796, many prominent Italians from all parts of the big boot were seeking unification of the many divergent states which were bound together by nothing more than a geographically isolated peninsula, by a common linguistic heritage and by the influence of the Church. The language commonality was culturally binding and yet the various Italian dialects were diverse enough to promote regional pride and micro-cultural diversity. The regions of central Italy, for example, were quite similar linguistically and were, in fact, the birthplace of modern Italian as it is spoken today, whereas there is a great difference between the dialects spoken in the north and those spoken in the south. Those of the north are more similar to the European languages whose countries they juxtapose, while those of the south resemble in some ways the languages of the invaders which anciently occupied their lands such as the Arabs and the Spanish. Such was the linguistic flavor and regional diversity in 1848, when, prompted by territorial disputes, the northern state of Piemonte (Italian spelling) declared war on Austria. This was the first time that these somewhat divergent states had unified themselves against an external foe, and the venture was, for the most part, enthusiastically supported. On 23 March, troops of the Piemonte, (which was a powerful and autonomous state) supported by Neapolitan and other armies, pushed into Austrian occupied Lombardia (north central Italy) and Venezia (in the Northeast). The war went well for the first two months, but by June and July the "Italian" forces had suffered many serious defeats and were forced to withdraw their forces back to their original lines. There were several reasons for this defeat. Among them were Pope Pius'IX withdrawal of support for the cause of the struggle against Austria (which was a Catholic state), the withdrawal of Neapolitan forces from the war, and the feeling by other Italian states that Piemonte's cause was not for Italy but rather for self-aggrandizement. The final reason for this military failure was that of an ill-coordinated and inept military command.1 In March 1849, there was still great Italian hatred for the Austrians who were now holding Venice under siege. With renewed support from other Italian states, the Piemontesi again resumed hostilities against the Austrians, but in just three days they had suffered a major defeat at Novara. Although courageous in their stand against the detested Austrian influence, this second failure of Italian arms pointed to the need for foreign alliances. Had there not been such political turmoil within Italy, it is possible that the motto "L'Italia fara da se" (Italy will go it alone), could have been a reality. But how could the army function effectively alone against a well-established enemy when the Pope had pulled his support for fighting another Catholic country? And how could a soldier feel any obligation to fight for a national cause when there did not appear to be one? Border disputes continued with Austria up to 1859 and in March of that year war broke out again. After several bloody battles in which the Italians finally dominated, an armistice was signed in which some territories were realigned. But mistrust and hatred would not allow protracted peace; however, the result of the armistice and brief respite from battle provided time for improved peninsular affairs and the official unification of Italy in 1861 although not all states were included. Would this unification now mean that the military forces would be united with the firm support of a solid political system? Amazingly, by 1866 perhaps because of the failure to ever really decisively defeat the Austrians, a unified Italy (at least officially) once again declared war on its northern neighbor. The result of this war was the famous battle of Custozza in which the Italians were again defeated on the same site where they had been defeated in the first battle of 1848. Perhaps the greatest embarrassment to the Italian forces was the fact that they had outnumbered the Austrians two to one. This is not to say that during this battle, or those previous, some Italian units did not fare quite well. The great Giuseppe Garibaldi, for example, with his 40,000 man independent corps of Piemontese volunteers, fought very successfully using guerrilla tactics during Custozza and somewhat vindicated the poor showing of the regular Italian Army. In the midst of the continuing internal and external political turmoil, Garibaldi was one of the few with the leadership ability and bravado to unify his troops against a common foe. History tells us that that type of leadership was generally lacking during the battle of Custozza. Attributed to the defeat were, "division of field command, confusion of plans and poor staff work."2 The Italian Army was not alone in this failure. The fleet also suffered a defeat in the Adriatic, presumably for the same shortcomings. This is a very simplistic review and analysis of this period of Italian history but the basic problem in conducting military operations is self-evident. Because of the internal turmoil and regional differences during its unification and conflicts with Austria, there was no sound political base from which to direct a well-defined national cause. and compounding the problem was the ineptitude of the military leadership in general. These difficulties were still not solved by the end of the 19th century. They were, rather, intensified in a period of turmoil which was not to be rivaled in modern Italian history. This was a period of social and political reform which saw the birth of Italian socialism and the advent of foreign adventurism and colonialism in Africa. This adventurism would return to haunt the Axis powers in World War II when they would be forced to spread their forces thin in the deserts of North and East Africa to protect their holdings from the Allies. The Italians were initially fairly comfortable and successful in managing their holdings in Eritrea, the northern province of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). They had also been successful in military skirmishes with the Abyssinians to the south and thus felt confident in sending expeditions into the heart of Abyssinia to seek additional lands. But political and military overconfidence brought with it the destruction of a two thousand-man advance force of Italian soldiers and native levies. The end result of the government's miscalculation of enemy strength (the Italians were outnumbered 80,000 to 14,500) was the Italian defeat at Aduwa in 1896 (in Abyssinia) in which 8000 of 14,500 men were killed or wounded. Two generals were killed and 2,000 men were captured. Two aspects of this battle were particularly difficult for Italians at home to accept. The first was that the withdrawal of the remainder of the troops was so disorderly that charges of cowardice resulted, and the second was the fact that their captured countrymen were brutalized by the Abyssinians, an act for which the Italians would return years later for vindication and revenge (as well as for an excuse to continue their colonial expansion). What is the significance of the battle of Aduwa in light of the analysis already made of previous wars against Austria? A basic deficiency in political unity and foreign policy still existed which created a situation unfavorable to the Italian military forces. In analyzing actual Italian military capabilities of the period, they do not appear to be too different from those of other European armies. Italy's conscription and national service policies were, in fact, very similar to those of Germany and France. In his book, Armies of Asia and Europe, Emory Upton describes in detail the prescribed requirements for noncommissioned and commissioned officer selection and training as it applied in 1875. Again, it was very similar to that of other armies. One weakness which Upton noted in the Italian academy system was that, because of the great need for officers, only 3 percent were attrited for academic or other failure. Italian tactics were also considered standard for a European army. They were based on the German model since Germany was considered to be the superior military force at the time. Upton's study reveals, then, no serious flaws in the Italian military system; however, he did not address morale, or cultural aspects which might have affected the fighting effectiveness of the Army. An important aspect of the Italian officer corps was the fact that parents were required to pay for the cadets'education (unless the cadet's father had been an officer killed in battle). This meant that only a very small percentage of the male population could financially qualify for academy training. This restriction obviously excluded the greater percentage of the population from which much talent undoubtedly could have been drawn. Not only was political imprudence a problem in Abyssinia but also generalship. General Baratieri, who was in command of all forces in Abyssinia had learned that he had fallen from favor by political circles in Italy and that another General was en route to replace him. Determined to enter battle before his replacement arrived, he marched his forces to Aduwa, was cut off and defeated. Aside from the political and military reasons for this defeat, the economic situation at home in Italy would have made the prospect of conducting a prolonged war in Ethiopia a great struggle to say the least. Many countries have created wars ostensibly to stimulate economic growth. In this case, Italy entered Abyssinia, partly to divert attention from its industrial production problems, its financial crises and its domestic disorders. The end goal would have been continued colonization, additional markets for goods produced at home and increased total agricultural production. However, the effort, at least in Abyssinia, was self-defeating and Italy was forced to pull back to its original positions in Eritrea and Somaliland. During the conduct of operations in East Africa, there was much debate both internally and abroad regarding the legitimacy of Italy's presence in that area. In his discourse to the Italian parliament on 12 May 1888, Francesco Crispi, who headed the government from 1887 to 1896, replied to demands that Italy withdraw from the region. The following is an excerpt from that discourse. The comments in parentheses are those of the members of the parliament in attendance: Gentlemen, Italy arrived far too late in the family of great powers. She had the honor of discovering America but did not have the strength to impose her dominion there... Colonies are a necessity of modern life. We cannot remain inert and allow the other powers to occupy by themselves the portions of the world as yet unexplored. If this were to occur, we would be guilty of a great crime toward history because we would thereby close forever the avenues to our ships and the markets to our products. (Good!). Since 1860 Italy has been in a state of continuous economic progress, and the day may come when we shall have need of easy and secure markets. We shall not have them except by unfurling our flag on all the seas of the world. Someone has thought to ask us: But what will you do at Massawa? What material profit, what benefit shall we have after the expenses and dangers we have undergone? Gentlemen, in the public shops benefits are not counted in lire and cents. Great nations have the need to assert themselves in the various parts of the world for the protection of their commerce and for the performance of that civilizing mission in whose triumph we are obliged to participate. (Bravo!) I said that we begin today (in colonial endeavors), and we would begin very badly if at the first setback [as at Dogali in 1887) we were to flee from the places we have occupied. (Very good! Bravo!--Lively signs of approval). We would give a very poor show of ourselves if we were to tire so easily and fail in perseverance. This policy of looking only to material interests is too bourgeois. (Good! Bravo!) There is something much greater: it is the dignity of the fatherland and the interests of civilization. (Very good! Bravo!) We are at Massawa, [area in Eritrea already held by the Italians] and we shall stay".3 We have already discussed what happened to the Italians precisely because of their attempted expansion beyond Massawa. The reference in Crispi's speech to Dogali is the site about 18 kilometers west of Massawa where Ethiopians destroyed an Italian column of 500 men who were attempting to penetrate into central Ethiopia. This particular speech of Crispi is cited because it illustrates the mood of the Italian government (and people) at the time. It also demonstrates how the government forged ahead blindly and created a military defeat where none should have occurred.. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that Italy did not have to conduct a protracted war because, although it was a developing country, it did not have the resources to sustain itself indefinitely. With the defeat at Aduwa which resulted in Crispi's downfall, Italy turned inward and concentrated on its continuing political turmoil. The military would not see any significant action again until the Libyan (Italo-Turkish) war of 1911-1912. This particular conflict will not be discussed in this study. Suffice it to say that the Italians did throw the Turks out of Tripolitania and established a colony there. But, as history has shown, Libya would become just another battlefield which would later try the power of the Axis. CHAPTER II ITALY ENTERS WORLD WAR I By 1914, practically all of Europe was embroiled in disputes over politics, boundaries, and economics. Italy's problem, among other things, was her relationship with Austria. It was a strange relationship in that she had been a member of the Triple Alliance with Austria and Germany since 1896 and yet border disputes and basic enmity between the two neighbors caused continual mistrust and tension within the Alliance. The Trentino and Trieste areas of Northeastern Italy had been in dispute for years. Italy felt that since this region was on the Italian side of the Alps and since the people living there spoke Italian, it should not, therefore, belong to Austria. And so, with the major powers of Europe forming opposing alliances to do battle, Italy had to make the decision to either remain neutral (the prudent thing to do, considering her rather weak military status) or to come in on the winning side and hopefully regain what she felt were her rightful territories. On 3 August 1914, Italy announced that she would remain neutral in the conflict. There were three reasons for this decision, the most important being that her military forces were simply not prepared. The second was concern for the internal unrest caused by unruly socialist, republican and revolutionary factions in the country, and the third was the government's feeling that the Italian people truly wanted peace. It was felt in Parliament that Italy technically had a legitimate reason for not entering the war on the side of the Alliance since Austria had declared war on Serbia without first notifying Italy as required by the Alliance. In addition, Germany's declaration of war on Russia and France nullified the pact since Article II of same specified its defensive nature.1 For nine months, debate raged in the Italian parliament on whether or not to persuade Austria to cede disputed territories to Italy in compensation for the latter's continued neutrality, or to simply enter the war on the side of the Entente (which was a pact between England, France and Russia) and hope to win the spoils of the victor. To fully explain the confused political situation in Italy which had, naturally, a direct effect on the fighting performance of her military, an excerpt must be included here of "L'intervento (1915): Ricordi e Pensieri" (The Intervention (1915): Memories and Thoughts) of Antonio Salandra who was Italian head of state at the beginning of World War I: "By the end of 1914 two currents of opinion had gradually formed and become pronounced in the country, which had received with almost unanimous favor the declaration of neutrality. One current was for remaining indefinitely in the position of spectators in the enormous conflagration; the old alliance being broken in fact if not in law caused the other current to favor intervention as quickly as possible on the side that had become reputed to be the only one suitable to Italian sentiments and interests....Those who spoke and wrote-that is, the active minorities which in every great country carry along with them the mentally inert majority-became divided between interventionists and neutralists. These two currents were nurtured by reasons, passions, recollections, and connections of varied nature, and in their ranks there met political groups that until then had been inspired by contrasting idealities. And so, Nationalists and Freemasons had fervently adopted the cause of intervention, whereas irreligious socialism joined with political Catholicism in propounding the cause of absolute neutrality. It was the arduous but indeclinable duty of the government to consider the situation and the interests of the country with courageous serenity, to set a goal for itself, and to prepare the means for its realization. After the first battle of the Marne (September 1914) and after the Russian invasion of East Prussia was arrested at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, both sides in the war were stripped of their illusions about a quick end to the conflict. Time was necessarily in favor of the Entente which, although much less prepared at the outbreak of war, was richer in men and means; but these had to be prepared and brought into the field. Meanwhile, no one, not even the most tenacious neutralists dared maintain that, while the hurricane of war raged not far from its borders and agitated the seas surrounding it, Italy could remain idly at rest and disinterested in the development and outcome of the world conflict. Everyone understood that the war would lead to a profound change in international relations and that an historical crisis was developing in which we could not avoid becoming involved. This conviction naturally aroused the inner patriotic passion of the men in charge of the government, although it was our duty to master this passion and control its expression. We thought, we felt that perhaps never again for generations and centuries would the occasion arise for completing the task of the Risorgimento by acquiring those frontiers which nature had given to the Italian people and by establishing supremacy on our seas. Consequently, as I have shown, we chose our perilous but inescapable path and we prepared to follow it. But although we had committed ourselves to each other, as long as was possible we abstained from committing ourselves with others because we could not exclude the possibility that unexpected events and new conditions might arise to modify the decisions we had reached. We had reached these decisions fully aware of their enormous gravity and without pretensions of infallibility. Therefore we still retained full freedom of action while preparing for intervention, which we thought inevitable in the spring of 1915."2 Reading this passage gives one the impression that, although the Italians wanted peace and felt that neutrality was right for *"Risorgimento" refers to the period in Italy beginning in the 18th Century and ending in 1870 with her final unification. the country, fate was somehow propelling them into the "great conflagration". It is indeed surprising that Italy, fully conscious of its military inadequacies, decided that "now" was the time to take its rightful territories. They must have felt that luck alone would assure them victory. Continued verbal conflict with Austria resulted in the Pact of London of April 26, 1915 in which Italy separated herself from Austria-Hungary and entered the Triple Entente by siding with Great Britain, France and Russia. This was a political decision which resulted in the suspicion other countries felt toward Italy both politically and militarily during this period. The indecision, and then sudden change from Alliance to Entente could not possibly have inspired and cultivated future international relationships. Let us look now at the conflict from the military perspective. It should be noted that all Italian armed services--Army, Air Service and Navy were involved in World War I, and, as stated previously, many units, especially those of the Navy, performed admirably; however, the general perception of Italian forces, based on their performance in both world wars, is low. Part of the problem faced by Italian units of World War I was the political situation in which there was a lack of unanimity among yarious factions of the government. As for the troops on the battlefield, it is undeniable that they had not established a winning tradition. There were many reasons for the Italians' poor performance on the battlefield and they will be addressed later, but as for the mental preparation of the troops, the winning spirit was simply not cultivated in most them as they entered the conflict. In 1917, when First Lieutenant Erwin Rommel first marched with his mountain troops through Austria toward Italy, that nation had already been in the war for two years. Rommel's superb book, Attacks, describes firsthand his experiences in battle against the Italians. His commentary seems to be unbiased, as he praises and, in turn, criticizes his enemy as he feels appropriate. Herewith are Rommel's own words as he became part of the Austro-German offensive which ended in the great Italian defeat at Isonzo (known as Caporetto in the United States) of October 1917: It was early October in the magnificent countryside of Carinthia where the Wurttemberg Mountain Infantry Battalion had been sent by the roundabout way of Macedonia when I again assumed command of my detachment. We had no idea what the Army High Command had in store for us. The Isonzo front? Since Italy's entry into the war in May of 1915, the chief operational objective of the Italian army had been the capture of Trieste. In the course of two years of warfare, ten battles had taken place along the lower course of the Isonzo, during which the Austrian forces had slowly but persistently been pushed backwards. In the sixth battle the Italians had gained a foothold on the east bank of the river near Gorizia and had taken the city itself". For the eleventh Isonzo battle, which began in August 1917, General Luigi Cadorna patterned his offensive on the Western Front model. Supported by 500 guns, 50 divisions attacked on the narrow front between Gorizia and the sea. By fine fighting the worthy Austrian troops nullified the Italians' initial success, but in the second part of the battle the Italians crossed the middle reaches of the Isonzo and took the high plateau of Bainsizza where, by exerting their supreme efforts, our allies succeeded in halting the attack. This all-out attack lasted until the beginning of September when things quieted down and Cadorna began to get ready for the twelfth Isonzo Battle. The newly won territory east of the middle reaches of the Isonzo materially improved the Italian prospects for the next battle and their objective, Trieste, was finally within reach. The Austrians did not feel equal to ieeting this new attack and they were obliged to ask for German help. In spite of the tremendous expenditure of forces in the battles in the west (Flanders and Verdun), the German High Command sent an army consisting of seven battle-tried divisions. A combined German and Austrian offensive on the upper Isonzo front was to effect the desired relief. The objective was to throw the Italians back across the imperial boundary, and, if possible, across the Tagliamento. Such was the strategic background as interpreted by Rommel as he and his mountain troops prepared for the battle. Based on Rommel's assessment, the Italian Army initially did quite well in systematically pushing the Austrians back to the point where they (the Austrians) felt it imperative to seek assistance from the Germans. It should be understood that the Austrian Army, at the beginning of the 20th Century, was one of the significant military powers of the world, whereas that ofthe Italians still suffered from the imbalance of infancy. But, although it appears that there was initially a certain unity of Italian effort, Rommel, in his descriptions of battle on the small unit level, indicates that there were grave shortcomings in command and, in many cases, a fatal lack of will among the troops. Initially, according to his account, they fought tenaciously but then began to inexplicably surrender. The following, then, are excerpts from Rommel's, Attacks: ... The scouts did not enjoy favorable prospects; for the enemy, [Italians) obviously unshaken, was from time-to-time traversing the bare grassy slopes in front of his wire with bursts of machine gun fire in various directions. This local enemy garrison appeared to be on its toes and was not inclined to surrender at any price. ... In the Alpine corps, the Bavarian Infantry Life Guards and the Wurttemberg Mountain Battalion were fighting at the cornerstone of the third Italian position on Hill 1114. Schoerner's company (12th Life Guards) held the peak proper, but the Italians held their surrounding positions and were attempting to regain their lost positions by counterattacks. The 1st Jager Regiment of the 200th Division was still fighting for the second Italian position in the region of Hill 732...4 After some of these encounters in which Rommel probably determined that he could certainly not underestimate this enemy, he had several experiences which puzzled him such as the following: ... What was going on? The soldiers at the head of the 2d Company had discovered some Italians asleep in a clump of bushes down the slope. Inside of a few minutes they had routed out an Italian combat outpost of forty men and two machine guns. Not a shot, not a loud word was heard. To be sure, a few hostile sentries fled downhill as fast as their legs could carry them; but fortunately in their excitement they forgot to warn the garrison of the positions above by shots or shouts. I made certain that no one tried to shoot them as they fled... ... It required all our strength to climb up out of the hollow and across the steep slope. In a few moments the hostile obstacles were reached and passed and then we moved across the hostile position. The long barrels of a heavy Italian battery loomed before us and in its vicinity Streicher's men were cleaning out some dugouts. A few dozen Italian prisoners stood near the guns. Lieutenant Streicher reported that he surprised the gun crews while they were washing themselves... ... Down on the right, on the north slope, hand grenades burst as the assault team from Ludwig's company fought its way along the hostile position. The Italian garrison clung tenaciously to every nook and cranny, and our troops made slow progress even though they were attacking downhill...5 There were manv instances in Rommel's experience where Italian soldiers were simply caught unaware and were either captured or tried to escape as in the following excerpts: ... Meanwhile, to our great astonishment, Italian traffic started up again on the Luico-Savogna road. From north and south single soldiers and vehicles came unsuspectingly toward us. They were politely received at the sharp curves of the road by a few mountain soldiers and taken prisoner. Everyone was having fun and there was no shooting. Great care was taken that the movement of the vehicles did not slacken on the curves thereby alerting any what might be following. While a few mountain troops took care of the drivers and escorts, others seized the reins of the horses or mules and drove the teams to a previously designated parking place. Soon we were having trouble handling all the traffic that came from both directions. In order to make room, the vehicles had to be unhitched and moved close together. The captured horses and mules were put in a small ravine immediately behind our barricade. Soon we had more than a hundred prisoners and fifty vehicles. Business was booming... ... The head of my detachment reached the valley a mile and a half southwest of Luico at 1230. The sudden apparition of the leading soldiers, among them Lieutenants Grau, Streicher, Wahrenberger and myself, who suddenly rose from the bushes a hundred yards east of the road, petrified a group of Italian soldiers who were moving unsuspectingly along, partly on foot and partly awheel. They were totally unprepared to encounter the enemy two miles behind the front at Golobi and they fled at top speed into the bushes to the side of the road, probably expecting to be fired on at any moment...6 At the end of an operation on Mount Kuk, Rommel gave his usual didactic observations: The decision of the Italian commander on Kuk to stop the German breakthrough in the Kolovrat position by committing his numerous reserves for defense in several lines on the east slope of Kuk was incorrect. He gave the Rommel detachment the urgently needed respite (for organization of the defense, reassembly, bringing up of support). It would have been more advantageous to use these forces to recapture Hill 1192. The necessary fire support could have been given from the numerous positions on the north slope of Kuk. If the hostile command had succeeded in getting an attack going from the east against the Rommel detachment, the latter would have been in a very difficult position. Further, it was not profitable to locate the three positions on the steep, bare and stony east slope of Kuk (forward slope). In hours of work the Italian soldiers barely succeeded in denting the ground even though their work was not disturbed by any harassing fire. Reverse slope positions on the west slope of Hill 1192 would have been much more favorable for the enemy since they would have been out of reach of our artillery and machine guns. Furthermore, the enemy delayed in blocking the ridge road on the south slope of Kuk and in covering the bare slopes below the ridge road with fire. At the start of the attack against Kuk, two or three Italian battalions opposed the Rommel detachment with numerous machine guns in commanding positions, in part well developed; in part hastily installed. The detachment first attacked only with two assault teams of 16 men each under the fire support of one machine-gun company, six light machine guns and two heavy batteries. These teams felt out the possibilities of approaching the enemy and I then used the main body to encircle the entire Kuk garrison which was captured during the later hours of the morning assault and units from Wurttemberg Mountain Battalion and a company of the Bavarian Infantry Life Guards. In the attack the effects of the machinegun and heavy artillery fire against the hastily entrenched enemy proved to be especially strong. In many places the enemy was unable to stand up under this severe nervous strain. This fire would have had little effect had the Italians been properly entrenched. Our own machine gun fire from Hill 1192 proved to be a magnet and attracted the entire attention of the Italian fire units, thus permitting our initial assault team and then the entire detachment to reach the eastern slope of Kuk without suffering losses by means of the camouflaged road which was open to enemy observation. A regiment of the 4th Bersaglieri Brigade, in march column, unexpectedly bumped into our road block in the narrow valley. Even though the leading units were pinned down by fire, the rearward units could have mastered the situation by attacking on the slopes to the east or west. Clear thinking and vigorous command were lacking here.7 Aside from some of the inattention and poor command decisions noted here by Rommel, there were incidents which raise questions about the Italian leadership of World War I. One of the most curious is contained in the following account of Rommel's attack on Mount Mrzli: ... Already during our attack we had observed hundreds of Italian soldiers in an extensive bivouac area in the saddle of Mrzli between its two highest prominences. They were standing about, seemingly irresolute and inactive, and watched our advance as if petrified. They had not expected the Germans from a southerly direction--that is, from the -rear... ... The number of enemy in the saddle on Mrzli was continually increasing until the Italians must have had two or three battalions there. Since they did not come out fighting, I moved near along the road, waving a handkerchief, with my detachment echeloned in great depth. The three days of the offensive had indicated how we should deal with the new enemy. We approached to within eleven hundred yards and nothing happened. Had he no intention of fighting? Certainly his situation was far from hopeless! In fact, had he committed all his forces, he would have crushed my weak detachment and regained Mount Cragonza. Or he could have retired to the Matajur massif almost unseen under the fire support of a few machine guns. Nothing like that happened. In a dense human mass the hostile formation stood there as though petrified and did not budge. Our waving with handkerchiefs went unanswered... We drew nearer and moved into a dense high forest seven hundred yards from the enemy and thus out of his line of sight, for he was located about three hundred feet up the slope. Here the road bent very sharply to the east. What would the enemy up there do? Had he decided to fight after all? If he rushed downhill we would have had a man to man battle in the forest. The enemy was fresh, had tremendous numerical superiority, and moreover enjoyed the advantage of being able to fight downhill... ...We reached the edge of the forest unhindered. We were still three hundred yards from the enemy above the Matajur road; it was a huge mass of men. Much shouting and gesticulating was going on. They all had weapons in their hands. Up front there seemed to be a group of officers. . With the feeling of being forced to act before the adversary decided to do something, I left the edge of the forest and, walking steadily forward, demanded, by calling and waving my handkerchief, that the enemy surrender and lay down his weapons. The mass of men stared at me and did not move. I was about a hundred yards from the edge of the woods, and a retreat under enemy fire was impossible. I had the impression that I must not stand still or we were lost. I came to within 150 yards of the enemy! Suddenly the mass began to move and, in the ensuing panic, swept its resisting officers downhill. Most of the soldiers threw their weapons away and hundreds hurried to me. In an instant I was surrounded and hoisted on Italian shoulders. "Evviva Germania" [Long live Germany] sounded from a thousand throats. An Italian officer who hesitated to surrender was shot down by his own troops. For the Italians on Mrzli peak the war was over. They shouted with joy. The Italian officers became pugnacious seeing the weak Rommel detachment and they tried to reestablish control over their men. But now it was too late. Some captured Italians had told me shortly before that the 2nd Regiment of the Salerno Brigade was on the slopes of Matajur; it was a very famous Italian regiment which had been repeatedly praised by Cadorna in his orders of the day because of outstanding achievements before the enemy. They assured me that this regiment would certainly fire on us and that we would have to be careful. Their assumption was correct. The head of the Rommel detachment no sooner reached the west slope of Mrzli that strong machine gun fire opened up from Hills 1497 and 1424. The hostile machine gun fire was excellently adjusted on the road and soon swept it clear.8 Without further using Rommel's description of events, it happened that the highly praised Salerno Brigade, too, laid down its arms apparently against the will of its commanding officer, for as Rommel stated, "He sat at the roadside, surrounded by his officers, and wept with rage and shame over the insubordination of the soldiers of his once proud regiment. 9 Other Italian units were captured in a similar manner by the Rommel Detachment during the battle for Mount Matajur. In his usual "end of paragraph" observations, he tells of his "bag" and analyzes his success: ... In twenty-eight hours five successive and fresh Italian regiments were defeated by the weak Rommel detachment. The number of captives and trophies amounted to: 150 officers, 9000 men, and 81 guns. Not included in these figures were the enemy units which after they had been cut off on Kuk, around Luico, in the positions on the east and north slopes of Mrzli peak, and on the north slopes of Mount Matajur, voluntarily laid down their arms and joined the columns of prisoners moving toward Tolmein. Most incomprehensible of all was the behavior of the 1st Regiment of the Salerno Brigade on Mrzli. Perplexity and inactivity have frequently led to catastrophes. The councils of the mass undermined the authority of the leaders. Even a single machine gun, operated by an officer could have saved the situation, or at least would have assured the honorable defeat of the regiment. And if the officers of this regiment had led their 1500 men against the Rommel detachment, Mount Matajur would surely not have fallen on October 26. In the battles from October 24 to 26, 1917, various Italian regiments regarded their situation as hopeless and gave up fighting prematurely when they saw themselves attacked on the flank or rear. The Italian commanders lacked resolution. They were not accustomed to our supple offensive tactics, and besides, they did not have their men well enough in hand. Moreover, the war with Germany was unpopular. Many Italian soldiers had earned their livings in Germany before the war and found a second home there. The attitude of the simple soldier toward Germany was clearly displayed in his "Evviva Germania!" on Mrzli.10 Rommel's last point could certainly be argued. Were the troops showing some kind of endearment for Germany or were they hoping for survival in the hands of their captors? Italian evaluation of the defeat at Caporetto indicates that, in fact, there had been heavy e,nemy propaganda and that the troops had been insufficiently prepared to deal with it. It must be noted here that Rommel gives further positive evaluation of successive encounters: "A few weeks later the mountain soldiers had Italian troops opposing them in the Grappa region, who fought splendidly and were men in every particular, and the successes of the Tolmein offensive were not repeated".11 As an example of this, Rommel tells of a violent firefight against the Italians in which he was nearly captured and his Detachment nearly lost: A group of howling Italians came down the road and I did not know whether they were attackers or prisoners. I had no idea of what had become of my leading elements (3d Company and the machine-gun company of the 26th Rifle Regiment). I decided to use a couple of flares and clear up the situation. I fired them just to the right of the highway bridge near the low was leading to the mill and, in their light, I saw a closely packed mass of handkerchief-waving men rushing toward Pirago. The head of the group was a scant hundred yards away and the light of the flares made me an excellent target. The shrieking Italians did not fire a shot as they approached, and I was still undecided regarding their status...When the enemy was within fifty yards I shouted "Halt!" and demanded their surrender. The answering roar was neither affirmative nor negative. No one fired and the yelling mass drew nearer. I repeated my challenge and got the same answer. The Italians opened fire at ten yards. Almost all who were on the road fell into the enemy's hands. The Italians raced along the road to the south. ... At the last moment, I escaped capture by jumping over the road wall and I raced the Italians moving along the road. ... The hostile advance slowed down immediately and the Italian machine guns began to rattle, spraying their fire against the walls which sheltered the Styrian troops. The enemy appeared to be attacking to right and left of the road. A thousand men were yelling "Avanti, avanti!" ("Forward!").12 Without quoting him, Rommel continues the description of this and other battles in the Grappa region. The battles with the Italians are characterized by heavy Italian artillery activity which was always described as very effective by Rommel, and by significant close combat and hand-to-hand fighting. There continued to be large groups of Italians surrendering under the weight of the German-Austrian advance; however, there are in Rommel's account no other recurrences of surrender without fighting. In analyzing why the Italians failed in this major operation of the war, one key point emerges--that of unity of purpose. It seems that a large number of the Italian forces were not sufficiently convinced that they should be fighting for their country; hence, the shout by surrendering troops, "Evviva, Germania". Was this the fault of the Italian officer corps which somehow did not communicate to their troops the significance of their mission? Or was it a problem with a still relatively young and recently unified country which did not know what its foreign policy was and who it should designate as friend and foe? Based on Rommel's description of Italian troops overpowering their officers, it would appear that, in some cases at least, there was a lack of confidence of the troops in their officers. Another consideration in analyzing Caporetto was the tremendous amount of time (two years) that the Italians spent against the Austrians in the Isonzo campaign. There were a total of twelve battles fought there with only very slow progress to show for their efforts. What effect does constant battle have on men when fighting under such circumstances? In the book, Face of Battle, John Keegan states: There is no such thing as getting used to combat'...Each moment of combat imposes a strain so great that men will break down in direct relation to the intensity and duration of their exposure... psychiatric casualties are as inevitable as gunshot and shrapnel wounds in warfare.... Most men were ineffective after 180 or even 140 days. The general consensus was that a man reached his peak of effectiveness in the first 90 days of combat, that after that his efficiency began to fall off, and that he became steadily less valuable thereafter until he was completely useless... The number of men on duty after 200 to 240 days of combat was small and their value to their units was negligible"13 Were the Italian troops who faced Rommel just such casualties? Had they lost the will to fight because of excessive exposure to danger and death? Consider that at Caporetto the Italian Second Army with 25 divisions faced 37 Austro-German divisions and lost 10,000 dead, 30,000 wounded, 293,000 prisoners, and 350,000 missing in the first two weeks of the battle.. It would seem that this incredibly bloody campaign would indeed take its toll in psychological casualties, especially with the aforementioned lack of leadership and insufficient inculcation of the spirit of nationalism in the soldier. The Italian Army Chief of Staff, General Luigi Cadorna was outraged by the disaster and said in his military bulletin of 28 October, "Lack of resistance on the part of units of the Second Army--cowardly retreating without fighting and ignominiously surrendering to the enemy--has allowed the Austro-German forces to break our left flank on the Julian front."14 It must be noted here that the Italians, with the help of their British and French allies, finally stopped the Austro-German advance at the Piave River in December. Eventually, the Italians, under General Armando Diaz, succeeded in splitting the Austro-German forces and defeating them. Despite this final containment, though, the Italian government viewed the Isonzo (Caporetto) as a defeat. It would be useful here to review excerpts of the Italian government Commission of Inquiry relating to the battle: The events of October-November 1917 that led to the withdrawal of the Italian army from beyond the Isonzo River to behind the Piave River have the character of a military defeat. The determining caused of a military nature, both of technique and of morale, certainly predominated over those other factors, alien to the armed forces, whose alleged influence this report has shown to be exaggerated. Some persons have attempted to deduce from the influence of these other factors that the events in question are to be attributed largely to political causes. In addition to local and chance causes, the defeat derived also from the confluence of complex factors of a military nature which had been acting upon the army for some time and which, because of exceptional contingencies, were able to exercise a most effective influence, demoralizing the army and destroying its very cohesion. Among those causes which are judged to have been beyond human control, whose presence and influence have been ascertained with certainty by the Commission and which mitigate personal responsibilities, are the following: The power and capacities of the enemy. The Austro-Germans undertook the Offensive animated by a spirit of emulation and sustained by an irresistible impetus deriving from the great military successes obtained against Serbia, Rumania, and Russia.. .They were perfectly informed not only of our technical military preparation but also of the state of our morale; they were able to exploit every ingenious expedient and every consummate stratagem of war to conceal their very rapid movement of forces as well as the direction of their attack, to allay our vigilance in the sectors of the attack, and everywhere possible to weaken our resistance by means of a debilitating propaganda... With the serenity which may be granted us by reason of our ultimate victory, we must acknowledge that the enemy's plan was the work of genius and most bold and that it was put into operation with energy and intelligence, and with the employment of methods new to us. The result was that the enemy was able to achieve a surprise, not so much with regard to time and place, as to methods employed; and surprise is the principal factor in victory.* "The conditions of inferiority of our country and our army. These conditions derived from our geographical situation,...from historical events, from the particular circumstances in which the country entered the war, and from the development of operations in the other theaters of war. Among these conditions of inferiority the following seem particularly notable: the strategically most unfavorable nature of our frontier with Austria-Hungary; our scant economic potential and difficulties in much of our supplies, with the result that we lacked an abundance of certain * This self-analysis jibes perfectly with Rommel's numerous accounts of catching the Italians either sleeping, washing themselves, or simply walking along a road "in the rear" without any consciousness of their imminent danger. Rommel gives no account of propaganda used against the Italians. Perhaps at his level he would have been unaware of any such effort; however, this would account for the huge numbers of troops who surrendered to him--troops, who, as already mentioned, probably received little or ineffective "counter-propaganda" from their officers. War materials and thus had to undergo greater sacrifices in the struggle than did other countries and armies; Italian policy of the last few decades, resulting in our army being less well prepared that others; the military collapse of Serbia, Rumania, and finally and very grave that of Russia, resulting in the concentration of most Austro-Hungarian forces on our front. Weather conditions quite unfavorable to us, such as, among others, the bad weather prevailing during the month of October which made land and air observation more difficult; the fog, which notable favored the Astro-German artillery, aimed at known and fixed targets, as well as the advance of enemy infantry in many sectors of the attack, but made difficult and at times impossible our defensive barrages and the adequate maneuver of our support and reserve forces; the rains from October 24 to 27... and the fullness of the rivers, which obstructed the movement of our very heavy columns in retreat and the crossing of the rivers... The following must be numbered among the factors which did indeed exercise an influence but only insofar as military conditions (and particularly the conduct and the results of the war as well as the management of the army's personnel until OctQber 1917) made possible the growth of these factors and their evil influence, which otherwise was no greater than the average level influence exercised on other armies and people: The natural and pronounced repugnance felt by many toward sacrifices, harm and discomforts, as well as family ties that at times were even unhealthy. The confluence of some parties in condoning and favoring the less desirable tendencies and activities of the masses; the refusal on the part of these parties to accept responsibility for the war when fate was unkind to the fortunes of the Entente. (This and the preceding factor constitute the essence of that part of defeatism not nurtured by the enemy.) The enemy's intelligent and cunningly effective propaganda in the country as well as among the troops. Certain political events, such as the Russian revolution, and public manifestations occurring within a brief span of time, such as the remark made by the Honorable Deputy Treves in Parliament*, the Socialist assemblies attended by Russian emissaries, the Turin * On July 12, 1917, Claudio Treves, Official Socialist, had appealed to all governments of Europe to hearken to the "ultimatum of life to death: by the coming winter, not a man in the trenches." riots** and the Pope's note on peace.*** And the attitude assumed by a part of the press which, by directing public opinion toward an exaltation of the High Command, contributed to the weakening of the government's function of control over military operations. The military causes of the defeat may be divided into two categories, in accordance with their influence on the events in question. The first of these categories is of lesser importance and consists of the technical military causes. These are: Defects in the military apparatus. Although in certain respects these defects were notable at the beginning of the war and exercised an influence on operations in the first several months, they were in time largely eliminated. Errors in the conduct of the war, in operations as well as in the manner in which troops were employed. Had these errors been avoided, our army would have been able to meet the enemy attack better prepared with men and equipment and with stronger morale. Faults in the deployment of defenses and in the arrangement of reserves. Some improvidence in logistics, especially in the arrangement and deployment of communications and transport. This lack of adequate prearrangement had repercussions in the difficulties encountered and losses suffered during the withdrawal. The second category includes military causes predominantly of a morale nature. In the judgment of the Commission, these causes had a truly efficient effect in the disaster, but responsibility for them is not limited to the military commanders. In several instances responsibility falls also on the government, which did not always intervene at the opportune moment. In substance, these appear to be the true causes, whereas the ones noted above are revealed as concomitant causes or facilitating circumstances. These true causes are: Personal defects revealed in the manner of command of several generals, and the repercussions these defects had among their subordinate officers. A deformation in the functioning of the military hierarchy. This deformation was particularly evident in the relief from command of an excessive number of officers and in the relations between superiors an subordinates. These relations had become characterized ** Late in August 1917 bread riots broke out in Turin which were repressed by the military with 41 dead, 152 wounded and injured, and over 600 arrests. ***Pope Benedict XV's Note of August 1, 1917, appealed to all belligerents to end the "useless slaughter." by fear, suspicion, insincerity, and at times were even spiteful. Errors in the maintenance of discipline and morale among the troops. These errors were revealed particularly in the inconsistency with which discipline was applied; in the too frequent disregard of the regular procedures of military justice; in the application of not always justified summary executions; and in the scant concern shown for the morale of troops and for adequate indoctrination. Failure to eliminate certain injustices and disproportions in allotting the burdens and sacrifices of war; and, on the other hand, failure to engage in persuasive action to fight the widespread and most exaggerated notions regarding the blight of draft evasion.* Discouragement occasioned by the widespread conviction--no matter whether justified or exaggerated--that the blood sacrifices already performed and those that might come had been and would be fruitless. With personal regard to personal responsibilities and according to the above-mentioned causes, the Commission holds that responsibility should be assessed against: General Cadorna, for improper superintendence of cadres by eliminating an excessive number of general and senior officers, by inspiring measures which were frequently and inopportunely coercive and which in consequence disturbed the morale of the officer corps without, on the other hand, producing the appropriate improvement in military technique that might justify the moral sacrifices incurred; for not taking appropriate care in economizing the physical and moral energies of the troops and, especially, for tolerating unrewarding sacrifices of blood and for inciting frequent disregard of the regular procedures of military justice; and finally for not having attached due importance to the problem of maintaining the cohesion of the several parts in large military units. General Capello, for having employed in the Second Army a system of personal coercion which at times reached the point of vexation and which aggravated the repercussions ensuing from General Cadorna's manner of superintendence; and for having contributed to the depression of the troops' morale by excessively draining their physical and moral energies and by being prodigal with blood in disproportion to the results achieved. * According to rumors then current there were perhaps as many as a half million deserters and draft evaders by June 1917. General Porro [Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army under Cadorna, for not having performed his duties in such a way as to moderate the excessive elimination of officers and for not having inquired into and made known those factors that depressed the morale of the troops, thus being remiss in his duty to provide the Chief of Staff [Cadorna] with that contribution necessary to induce the latter to take measures to prevent degeneration in the functioning of the military hierarchy, to correct the superintendence of the troops, and to maintain the organic cohesion of the armed forces. The Cabinet headed by the Honorable Boselli, for not having performed in a proper measure its high duty of supervision and control of the army's morale and for not having taken the measures appropriate to this end".15 The above quoted excerpts from the commissions report is very interesting in that it supports Rommel's observations on the battlefield. The Italian government did attempt to correct the problem by replacing Cadorna. Cadorna had, in fact, relieved an excessive number of officers and his rapport with the Commander of the Second Army, General Luigi Capello, was very poor. Concerned with prospect of total defeat, the country's any political parties rallied behind the cause and with the arrival of allied reinforcements, Italy was able to contain the enemy at the Piave River; however, by the end of the 11th Isonzo battle, despite its recognition of the aforementioned problems, the Italian Army had lost 40.000 dead, 108,000 wounded and 18,000 missing all with negative results in territory gained.. So, by its own admission, the Italian government, Italian politics and very senior officers were the culprits in the poor performance of the Italian Army in World War I. Can one, then, blame the Italian soldier for the failings of the system that sent him to war? An additional issue relating to the "ignominy" of defeat is that of surrender; specifically, when is it acceptable to lay down one's arms and capitulate to the enemy. Is there a standard by which one can measure courage and cowardice in the face of battle? What is the significance of the term "means to resist" in the fighting man's credo when referring to the alternative of surrender? These are rhetorical questions which should be considered by the reader. As bitter a pill as it is to swallow, there has hardly been, if ever, a country whose military forces or units of its forces has not had to deal with the problem of surrender. The point is that it is not legitimate to point the finger in blame at the Italian soldier for his rather ready surrender without considering all the facts, many of which we have already examined. The Italian armed forces, by the beginning of the First World War, had not established a tradition of victory in battle as previously discussed. With that lack of confidence in the system and in that base of support, especially when a large segment of the population was opposed to the war. it must have been exceedingly difficult to inspire the common soldier with an aggressive spirit. The Pope also exerted a tremendous influence in the daily lives of the the Italian people. Would not the common, faithful soldier have been inclined to obey the Pope's edict and throw down his rifle as an alternative to risking life and limb for a cause which was not clearly defined or supported? These thoughts are not conveyed to somehow exculpate the many Italian army units which appear to have surrendered prematurely. They are addressed for the purpose of demonstrating the effects of external influences on military performance. Without dwelling on the events of the last days of the war or the difficulties created by the armistice which was signed by the combatants, suffice it to say that the political crises which generated the war were not solved in Europe or within Italy. After the end of the war, Italy continued to suffer from instability and from radicalism on both ends of the political spectrum. This chaos paved the way for the rise of Fascism and ultimately for the next world war which so devastated the peninsula. CHAPTER III ITALY SEEKS ITS NATIONAL IDENTITY UNDER MUSSOLINI: THE TRAGEDY OF WORLD WAR II In 1921, the radical Fascist Party of young Benito Mussolini gained a foothold in the Italian Parliament. By October 31, 1922, the Fascist era began when he became Prime Minister (as well as Minister of the Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs). On the surface, Mussolini's government had the appearance of a moderate coalition in that, besides Fascism, there was representation by the Nationalists, Social-Democrats, and the Popular Party. But by 1924, Mussolini had become a dictator in its truest sense, and with that transition to dictatorship, Italy was on her way to war under the tenuous leadership of the blackshirts. "War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and pats the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it".1 Such was Mussolini's utterance as he tried to make his people understand their "destiny". But with or without their consent, he would attempt make that destiny come to pass. In 1935, Ethiopia, the last unclaimed land by the European powers in Africa, became the target. Partly out of revenge for the disaster at Aduwa in 1896, and in theory to establish an outlet for her excess population and to bind the various classes of the nation together, Mussolini, with the consent of other major European powers, moved his forces into position for the attack against the poorly equipped bit very warlike Ethiopians. European observers believed that, considering the desolate theater of operations, the enemy advantage of fighting on their own soil, and the great distance from home, it would take the Italians two years to win their war. But Italy was able to fairly quickly overcome the native forces in a two-pronged attack from Eritrea and Somalia and proceed to Addis Ababa within six months. Granted, Ethiopia did not have much of an Air Force and the Italians used their aircraft effectively (sometimes employing mustard gas), but the triumph of this war was in the efficient use of engineering, technology and logistics. As the Italians moved toward Addis Ababa, their engineers constructed roads for logistical supply and telegraph for communications; therefore, they were able to move ahead surefootedly but rapidly. Many would argue that the Ethiopians were pushovers, especially in view of their own internal discord and lack of total unity against their foreign invader. (Many went over to the Italian side for money). But however viewed, this was a well-planned and well-executed military operation, at least compared to previous fiascos.. As a result of this success Italians at home felt vindicated from past failures and could now hold their heads high in the neighborhood of Europe; however, this new feeling of power, invincibility and trust in Mussolini was short-lived. The operation in Ethiopia created false hope and confidence in the Italian armed forces. Operations at the beginning of World War II quickly demonstrated the actual capabilities of the Italian armed forces, and they left much to be desired. In 1936, Mussolini began a genuine campaign of trouble-making in the European-Mediterranean area. He made pacts with other nations and then ignored them, he engaged in a propaganda war against Great Britain to undermine her influence, and he sent troops to Spain both as support for Franco's fellow Fascist revolution and as a proving ground for his troops and weapons. In 1939 Mussolini swiftly took the country of Albania and shortly thereafter signed a pact of "aggression" (war alliance) with Hitler which, however, stipulated that no major crisis would be initiated prior to 1942. When Hitler ran across Poland in 1939 and the Second World War began in September of that year, Mussolini declared Italy a nonbelligerent. His intent was twofold--to allow more time for his armed forces to recover from their adventures in Ethiopia and Spain, and to wait for easy victories as Germany's war unfolded. In 1940, it appeared that German successes in Poland, France and Norway would bring the war to a rapid close. Concerned that Italy might lose her share of the spoils, Rome declared war on Britain and France. Mussolini ordered attacks on British positions in East Africa and coastal Egypt, but these offensives were brought to a halt relatively quickly because of inadequate equipment. But Perhaps one of the greatest miscalculations of the war was Mussolini's decision to invade Greece in an attempt to snatch up as much "easy" land as possible before the conflict ended. The Greek campaign typifies Italian political blundering. in that the Fascist regime misread the strategic situation and got the armed forces involved in an unwinable war. Italy certainly had the manpower to support the Fascists' ambitions but its industrial base and its preparation in military equipment could not support a protracted war against a resolute enemy. Since Mussolini's rise to power, he had surrounded himself with men who feared to counter his will. Mussolini decided almost autonomously, that he wanted the Greek Islands of Zante, Cephalonia and Corfu, as well as Salonika with his final objective being the occupation of the entire country. Mussolini's impetuousness is indicated by his statement to his staff, "Having thus defined the issue, I have also decided the date, [of the initial attack on Greece], which in my opinion must not be postponed even by an hour; that is, the 26th of this month. It would seem that, in order to plan for the invasion of a foreign country, more than passing consideration should be given to the strategic influence of neighboring states as well as to the response of enemy forces of the target country; however, the "Duce" wanted and received only cursory information on both. For the Greek operation, the Duce's staff thought that it would be wise to involve Bulgaria, Greece's neighbor to the north to help tie up Greek forces while Italian troops attacked to the south, but as important as it was, it was only considered in passing in the planning stages. Confident that the Bulgarians would respond in the affirmative to his request, Mussolini postponed his approach to them. Estimates of enemy resistance were also too sketchy and not seriously studied. Mussolini was told by his staff that the Greeks were manifestly indifferent to an invasion of their country but in the came meeting they qualified that with, "From information supplied by our informants it appears that, while two months ago the Greeks did not seem inclined to put up serious resistance, now they seem determined to oppose our action".3 Mussolini did not want to hear of any difficulties in the operation and persisted in dragging out words of encouragement from his timid staff. Count Galeazzo Ciano, Minister of Foreign Affairs, finally stated that, "It appears that the great mass of the Greek population is indifferent to everything, including the prospect of our invasion". Mussolini was also told that the Greeks were not "people who like fighting" What is amazing, however, is that during the planning for this operation (crude though it was) other information was coming in from reliable sources at the Italian ministry in Athens. Grazzi, the minister in Athens said, It is incomprehensible that Count Ciano, who must have read my reports, letters, and telegrams, should have spoken of a sharp division between the people and the leading political and plutocratic class, and that he should have stated that, apart from this restricted class of bureaucrats, the rest of the Greek people were indifferent to all events that might take place, including an invasion by us. If there were good reasons for supposing that our information was so totally false as not to deserve so much as comparison with that supplied from other sources, only two hypotheses are possible: either we were complete idiots or we acted in bad faith. In either case the question arises why the government continued at great expense to maintain in Athens a diplomatic mission staffed by idiots or traitors".4 The reason, though, that this legitimate information regarding true Greek sentiments toward an Italian invasion, was ignored, was due to the political jealousies and personal ambitions of Mussolini and his generals. Mussolini viewed himself as in a race with Hitler for prestige and his generals were competing with one another for promotion. Their attack on Greece would be based strictly on hope, luck, and contrived reports of Greek weakness and lack of will. During the course of this meeting, Visconti Prasca, the General who was to lead the invasion of Greece, was told by Mussolini not to worry too much about casualties and that he must continue the attack even if faced by a "division". (That very statement demonstrated a fatal underestimation of Greek resistance). When the subject arose of the number of Divisions required to take Athens, the response from Prasca was five or six divisions. And when asked how many divisions would be required to occupy the territory between Italy and Athens, Prasca stated, "during the initial period, with three mountain divisions".5 An indicator of Mussolini's general strategic lack of understanding is also seen in a reply which he made to his Foreign Ministry regarding the potential of the United States countering Italian and other authoritarian powers. He stated, "America has no military importance". But despite Mussolini's blindness to foreign affairs, he had an aggressive and fighting spirit. He constantly exhorted his generals to attack with determination and violence. His charisma and aggressiveness did seem to have an effect on the troops in the field and on his staunch, high-ranking fascist followers; however, there was still much reservation, though mostly unexpressed, in launching the Greek campaign. Marshall Pietro Badoglio, Chief of the General Staff, himself had very strong reservations about the operation--that it was ill-conceived, but he was not resolute enough to express his feelings to Mussolini. Badoglio did confide, however, in the foreign minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano to express his concern. Ciano referred to the meeting in his writings: Marshall Badoglio came to see me and spoke to me very seriously about the operation in Greece. The three chiefs of staff are unanimously opposed to it. He said that the present forces are insufficient, and the navy does not believe it will be able to carry out any unloading at Preveza, because the water is too shallow. There was a pessimistic note about Badoglio's whole speech; he foresees a prolongation of the war, and with it the exhaustion of our meager resources7" Ciano, who wanted war, disregarded Badoglio's concerns as well as those of the "experts" such as General Cavagnari who said that he would need three months to transfer more divisions to Albania, and General Pricolo who said that he would not be able to deploy forces before November. Ciano often acted as a buffer between Mussolini's Generals and the Duce himself. Ciano reports of one meeting with Mussolini wherein he wrote, I went to see the Duce. In the antechamber I found Soddu [one of his Generals] who had spoken to Badoglio, who says that if the Greek operation takes place, he [Badoglio] will resign. I reported all this to the Duce who was already in a very ill humor because of the Graziani affair. He had a violent outburst of anger and said he would go to Greece in person to witness the incredible shame of Italians who were afraid of the Greeks. He intends to march at all costs. and if Badoglio hands in his resignation, he will accept it on the spot. But not only did Badoglio not submit his resignation, he did not even repeat to Mussolini what he said yesterday to me. In fact the Duce said that Badolglio insisted only on a few days postponement, at least two".8 Finally, on October 28, 1941, war was declared on Greece. A major blow was felt, however, when only shortly before the declaration of war, word was received from Bulgaria that she would not, in fact, assist Italy in her endeavor. Mussolini had felt so confident of himself that he had only pursued this assistance 16 days prior to the assault. In the final analysis, there were two fatal blunders which affected the outcome of the war with Greece. One was this ill-conceived reliance on Bulgaria to tie up Greece's northern flank. The second was that the attack was based on false and contrived information relating to unstable Greek internal affairs and corruption among its generals. Mussolini and his closest blackshirts were completely blinded by the pleasant prospect of conquering the Greeks with little or no effort. But once the assault began, it became plainly clear that the predictions and concerns of the generals were justified. The attack on Greece was immediately bogged down. The great offensive which Mussolini had envisioned was met with a determined Greek defense which left the ill-equipped Italian Army in static positions. The pathetic and seeming halfhearted effort made by the Italian generals was frustrating to Mussolini and he continually blamed them for having given him incorrect information and for their demonstrated lack of aggressive spirit. In reality, it was he who was to blame for this operation. And it was he who had closed his eyes to the reality of the situation. The following is an excerpt of a discussion that Mussolini had with his Deputy Chief of Staff which demonstrates his frustration with the war effort: MUSSOLINI: The Greeks now have a ten-mile salient. The salient maneuver I have been hearing about for such a long time must be carried out without delay. We have got to maneuver. BARTIROMO: Orders have already been given. MUSSOLINI: We have got to start maneuvering, engaging the enemy's attention, we must put an end to this passivity. BARTIROMO: Yes. MUSSOLINI: But the maneuvering I have heard talked about has never resulted in our counterattacking in any direction. BARTIROMO: Unfortunately it has never been possible to assemble the forces. MUSSOLINI: But you have divisions. BARTIROMO: They are not complete. MUSSOLINI: Are there many prisoners? BARTIROMO: We have no news of the 77th Infantry; I think some have been lost (on January 16 the 19th Battalion of the Greek 15th Division had surprised the 77th Regiment belonging to the Lupi di Toscana Division and had taken about 300 prisoners). MUSSOLINI: Bartiromo, there is only one way out. Attack, attack! I have been saying that for two weeks. BARTIROMO: I know that that is his Excellency Cavallero's [Cavallero was Chief of Staff at this time] intention, but something has always been lacking, in particular, ammunition. MUSSOLINI: They tell me that shiploads of ammunition left yesterday. BARTIROMO: I have been informed that something has left. MUSSOLINI: Bartiromo, we must counterattack, we must break the spell that for the past ninety days has been making us lose ground, position after position. If it goes on like this, we shall find ourselves in the sea, and there will be no more position. The Greeks will soon reach the Skumbi, which they are making for. BARTIROMO: There is no time to lose. MUSSOLINI: In short, forces must be assembled on the right principles. We must maneuver and avoid this passivity. BARTIROMO: That is what we are doing and have always been trying to do. MUSSOLINI: I am going to Germany. The first question they will put to me is whether I shall be able to hold the present line. What am I to answer? BARTIROMO: His Excellency Cavallero told the German colonel that he was confident he would be able to hold on. MUSSOLINI: There is only one way out. Attack! BARTIROMO: That is true, and it is his Excellency Cavallero's intention. MUSSOLINI: Report what I have said to his Excellency Cavallero. 9 Both Mussolini's frustration and Bartiromo's "passivity" are quite apparent in this dialogue. But again, it was Mussolini who had forced the war on his generals without allowing them sufficient time to prepare. That is not to say, though, that the generals would have been completely successful even with adequate preparation. As will be seen, they were often flawed not only in determination but also in tactics. A great principle of leadership is found in the relationship between leader and and follower; that is, there must exist between them mutual confidence, respect and loyalty. For the Italians, this principle was lacking in this and other campaigns. Mussolini never had respect for the fighting spirit of the Italian people. His feelings are reflected in a statement from Count Ciano's diary: "Grim-faced and nervy, he is shaken by the news from Albania. Nothing dramatic has happened, but again we have withdrawn and left many prisoners in the enemy's hands. The most serious thing is that the unit concerned was the Lupi di Toscana, a division of excellent reputation and great tradition, recently arrived in Albania, on which great hopes were based. He talked at length about all this; he reiterated his pessimism about the Italian army and people. He cannot explain the reason for things. He repeated several times: "If on October 15 anyone had predicted what has actually happened since, I should have had him shot". As the stalemate continued, more Italian Divisions arrived in Albania as the jumping off point for the offensive. It was hoped by Mussolini that this increase in manpower would have allowed him to continue the assault through Greece; however, major problems precluded this. The major limitation was in the training of the soldiers sent to this very difficult terrain under extremely difficult weather conditions. The training of the reserve battalions sent in was described by Cavallero as being "summary or nil". But even the the most highly trained battalions, such as the previously mentioned Lupi di Toscana, were not able to accomplish their missions. The field grade officers sent to Greece as replacements were equally weak in combat training. Many had been pulled directly from civilian life and were expected to perform under the most difficult of combat conditions, and yet for the most part they did not even remember basic tactics. They were called upon to lead men whom they did not know, against an enemy about whom they knew nothing in a country with which they were completely unfamiliar. The tactics that these men were forced to employ were created at the top by generals who both suffered from lack of judgement and who were afraid to risk their careers by making bold moves which might have failed. Such failures in judgement and logic are evidenced in Cavallero's tactic of attacking the enemy's strongest point to "wear him down". His son, who was with him in Albania said of his father: "The offensive in the Sesnizza Valley, the value and prospects of which were denied by the tabletop strategists, had the definite aim of relieving the pressure on the defense in the adjoining Valona sector, not by making our maximum effort at the enemy's weakest point, which is the classical aim of every offensive operation, buy by striking him where he was strongest in order to wear down his strength.12 Mario Cevo, author of the book, The Hollow Legions also says the following of Cavallero and the Italian generals: Cavallero had at last constructed his "wall". He had taken over a bankrupt situation and had managed to stave off total disaster. Having succeeded in that, he relapsed into the defensive mentality of Italian generals, always overcautious and terrified of risking their epaulets by an all-out attack. There was one Italian general who had the impulsiveness of a Rommel, and that was Visconti Prasca, but impulsiveness was the only quality of Rommel's that he possessed. The other generals, almost without exception (or at any rate without noticeable exceptions), liked good, solid fronts, massed with men-not with materials, which were always short... Cavallero intended to ensure that no catastrophe happened to him.13 General Gastone Gambara of the Italian VIII Corps planned for a limited offensive during the end of February with the intent of breaking the formidable Greek line; however, despite his aggressiveness and good intent, the failure of proper logistical planning resulted in shortages of pack animals, artillery and general supplies. An additional problem was that Gambara intended to make the breakthrough "at a point where the Greeks were not only strong but aggressively poised". Based on this and other events, there seemed to be a fundamental flaw in tactical and logistical thinking by the Italian generals. Despite reservations in the prospect of success, "offenses" continued to be planned and fought, although never with the drive and enthusiasm that Mussolini wanted. One such drive was that conducted by the IV, VIII and XXV Corps which was to finally get the Italian Army moving on toward Athens. But as Mussolini looked on, his Divisions again got bogged down in attacks and counterattacks, many of which were fought with grenades and bayonets. One Division commander was "ill" on the day of the offensive which prompted Mussolini to say, These generals who are taken ill on the day of an offensive make one wonder. Don't you think that these generals would show a little spirit, a little elan, and above all have a little initiative? Look at Rommel, who is restoring the situation in Libya with a single division and a reconnaissance group".14 Cervi characterizes the battle of the next day as an offensive which had,..."become a routine, a bloody, heroic, desperate, kind of a furious knocking at a door that refused to open instead of a blow with a battering ram that knocked it from its hinges". Mussolini continued to rant and rave at his generals trying to get them to move. Prior to departing back to Italy, he said to General Geloso: It is absolutely necessary to persist. The operational plan cannot be changed after four days. Hill 1308 on the Trebescines and its eastern slopes must be neutralized, and then the attacking columns must go forward. We must attack tomorrow, otherwise the troops will begin to get rooted to the ground and think the operation is over. The Greeks must be kept under fire all day. The answer to the mortar is rapid movement. We must insist on the plan as laid down. A military victory before the end of the month is absolutely essential to the prestige of the Italian army. I have always done everything in my power to keep the reputation and prestige of the Italian army high, but now a breakthrough is absolutely essential. I have instructed his Excellency Guzzoni to send here all the ammunition there is in Italy, because the Italian army is here, the war is here, and it is here that we must win"15 And so, despite only a very remote prospect of success, Mussolini's army continued to flail far away from home. The description of battle by those who fought in Greece is a graphic portrayal of defeat. It is a picture of pitiful preparedness. This was an army whose political leaders had thrown it into the breach only hoping somehow that it would endure. Captain Fernando Campione, who was attached to the Siena Division, describes on successive dates in his diary how, over a short period of time his Division wad transformed from an enthusiastic, although cautious group of soldiers, to a disillusioned band of men fighting the elements and enemy bullets for their very existence: [Date not indicated] --"Cavalry, mingled with the infantry, withdraw along the slopes of these rugged mountains, and this sudden and unexpected retreat is not understood by these valiant men, who cannot understand the reason for this change of direction. Another infantryman is lying on the road. His hands are contracted, a shell splinter tore open the right side of his stomach, where the clotted blood had formed a huge dark filthy stain on his jacket. He will be buried this evening, probably beside the river at the foot of a small isolated mountain." 21 November--...withdrawal of the Siena Division grew hastier and less orderly, assumed tragic and grotesque aspects of all war episodes. In spite of the behavior of a few undisciplined men, the troops as a whole are maintaining order and have fought well. 29 November-- "Some soldiers are dragging themselves along limping, others have put their knapsack, rifle, cartridge pouch on a mason's pushcart...They are marching heavily, slowly". 2 December-- "What with killed, wounded, missing, sick, etc. we have more than 2,000 men out of action". 4 December-- "The sight of our retreating troops is sadder than ever, because of the painful sight of long columns of tired, tattered soldiers slowly dragging themselves along". 14 December-- "more than ninety mules are lying along the road, either singly or in groups of two or three at various intervals; they collapsed from exhaustion and were abandoned on the spot with all their load. The major in command drags himself along with his feet affected by the beginning of frostbite. His serious, emaciated, livid face betrays the tragedy of the days and nights passed in the cold and snow. He coughs continually, and in spite of his state of obvious exhaustion, his serenity is admirable. 17 December-- "Signs of disintigration in units of the 32nd Infantry Regiment create panic and alarm at headquarters. There are no reserves, there is nothing to fall back on. So we had to turn to the divisional carabinieri and a guard company consisting of older men recalled to the colors. Mule drivers, truck drivers, everyone available has been thrown into the defense, the whole garrison of Himara has been collected under the command of a colonel. In the area where the snow is, it is said that forty men are frozen to death daily. It is not the fighting that kills, but exhaustion that brings terror and humiliation.16 This kind of suffering was practically universal for Italian troops fighting in Greece. The supply system had failed --the result being little food and insufficient clothing against the cold. Simple replacement for boots and uniforms which became shredded by the elements, was nonexistent. Nevertheless, the Italians fought with what they had, as in the account of Second Lieutenant Peppino Antolini of the 5th Alpini Division: "...We are on reduced rations...My detachment is protected by Captain Adriano Auguadri's No. 44 Company; Auguadri is a librarian at Como whom I should like to talk about for a long time, because he is the most complete soldier I have ever met. He attacked Hills 2109 and 2110 on Guri i Topit. The Greeks were taken by surprise. I was slightly wounded by hand-grenade fragments, and my sergeant got a bullet on his forehead, fortunately diverted by his helmet. So he got away with a streak on his hairy head. A Greek leapt at me with his bayonet, which cut the sleeve of my white wind-jacket without hurting me. I fired my pistol, and my wind-jacket was reddened with the poor devil's blood. We also took about ten prisoners. Incredible but true, we were then ordered to leave the positions we had gained. So the Greeks reoccupied the two heights. I am sure we shall pay dearly for that crazy order".17 The numerous accounts of close combat and of the bravery of the Italian soldiers despite the aforementioned deficiencies speaks well for them. In spite of their efforts, however, to support the will of the Duce, they were able to do no more than hold the line and they paid dearly for nothing--12,000 casualties and no gain in territory. It is a rather sad commentary on the Italian people that,despite the sacrifices that these common soldiers made to fulfill some hollow destiny, Mussolini said of them as he departed for Italy on March 21, "I am disgusted by this environment. We have not advanced one step. They have been deceiving me to this very day. I have a profound contempt for all these people.18 Perhaps by "these people" Mussolini was referring to his generals whom he used as scapegoats for the failure of the war. But one can readily see that, despite the rhetoric and the bombastic speeches to the people in which he exalted them and the Italian nation, he secretly had no confidence in them. One can only guess how the war would have progressed had the generals received the extra time to prepare that they had initially requested. This will remain unanswered, but as has already been stated, aside from logistic problems, they were deficient tactically and lacked aggressiveness. Mussolini could subject his army to this humiliation only so long. As repugnant a decision as it was, Mussolini was forced to accept the help of the German Army to rescue him from what would have been an endless war of attrition if not a total defeat at the hands of the Greeks. It is interesting to note that, during the earlier years of Hitler's and Mussolini's rise to power, Hitler showed a great deal of admiration for the Duce's administrative ability and his application of Fascism in running Italy; however, as a result of Mussolini' military failures in France, Greece, Yugoslavia and North Africa, Hitler soon came to view Italy as an ally, with mixed feelings. As the war continued on several fronts, the Supreme Headquarters in Germany now watched carefully as Italy conducted operations in North Africa. Strategically, North Africa was viewed as an Italian affair, and according to Generalmajor Eckhard Christian of the Supreme Headquarters Operations section, The decision in the spring of 1941 to dispatch German troops to Italian North Africa was not based on a special military objective or on a strategic plan on broad lines. It sprang initially from the necessity of supporting the Italian Mediterranean position, checking the British advance to Tripoli and possibly regaining Cyrenaica. 19 Despite Hitler's otherwise diabolical qualities, he was, at least loyal to his allies, including Mussolini; however, according to General Christian: Adolf Hitler had for a long time correctly appraised the actual worth of the Italian Wehrmacht. He distrusted its leadership, particularly the corps of generals and the royal house. He felt contempt for Italian military morale, criticized their equipment and derided their tactics. However he did not permit that these views of his should reach the Duce or that German troop commanders in the Italian theaters of war should adopt excessively drastic measures in dealing with their Italian brothers-in-arms. He demanded that Italian sensitivities and vanity be accorded consideration under all circumstances".20 Mussolini's initial hope of conducting an independent and "parallel war" alongside his Axis partner faded. As the Germans moved into Italy to assist the Italians in the conduct of their war in the Mediterranean and North Africa, Italy felt the domination of German power. The great question in Italy now became "Who is the enemy?" CHAPTER IV OPERATIONS IN NORTH AFRICA In fighting his "parallel war", Mussolini had intended for Hitler to keep his forces in the North while he maintained control of "Mare Nostro"--the Mediterranean. He defeated his own purpose, however, because he was unable to singlehandedly defeat his enemies, and he required, almost without exception, German assistance in fighting his battles. The Germans were therefore required to become deeply involved in supporting the Italians both in materiel and in actual combat forces. One thing can be said for Hitler--he was, at least, a loyal ally to his friend, Mussolini. Hitler had been opposed to Italy's entry into the war in the first place, but when Mussolini could resist no longer, entered the war, and made a poor showing, Hitler supported him with all means available. Of course, German assistance wasn't completely altruistic--losing Italy would also mean exposing the southern flank and possibly losing the war. One of the best post-war evaluations of Axis operations in the Mediterranean and North Africa was provided by Field Marshall Albert Kesselring. He had been sent to Rome in November of 1941, along with his Second Air Force, to act as Commander in Chief, South, for the German Wehrmacht. His specific duties were to support Rommel's Afrikakorps and to restore the supply situation which had become critical due to British command of the sea and air. Kesselring's report is, for the most part, an unbiased appraisal of Italian performance from the highest levels of command down to the common soldier. His opinions corroborate those of other authorities who have been quoted in this study; therefore, much of his report is included here to allow the reader access to the mind of one who saw the Italians operate first-hand. Kesselring states in his report that, It is an established fact that the Italian armed forces have not fought convincingly and successfully either in World War I or II. Exceptional performances, which have been registered in both wars, will not be discussed in this manuscript because otherwise the picture drawn by the bulk of the Italian forces will only be distorted. The result of partly extremely bloody, but unsuccessful battles in World War I were panicky retreats which could only be intercepted by measures of support undertaken by the Entente; during World War II, these retreats resulted in the voluntary withdrawal from the combat team by capitulating. Both final situations were of little comfort to Italy's allies. I want to omit the colonial wars since, despite several similar observations, their original situations are too different from a modern technical war.1 Kesselring also discusses regional differences between Italians: The Italians from the North cannot be compared with the Italians from the South. Apart from that, the Sicilians, and in some cases also the Sardinians, have in addition a strong aversion, which goes as far as open hostility toward the Italians of the main land. The city dwellers, such as for example the Neapolitans, are in a category by themselves, and the differences between the wealthy and the farmers, for instance, can scarcely be overcome. The connecting link [however] is the catholic church and the tremendous influence of the church on the simple Italian people and Italian womanhood as a whole. The Italians are southerners, and they are hot-blooded with all the advantages and disadvantages inherent in their origin. The upper classes and the workers possess a surprising amount of mental and physical mobility, high technical abilities, and initiative...on the other hand, the rural Italians from the south are a mass of people who, like children, can be led anywhere. The Italian [southern] is easily contented; he actually has only three fashionable passions: coffee, cigarettes and women.2 According to Kesselring, the uneven distribution of wealth brought about a natural animosity between the few rich and the majority which are poor, and he says of this, "In this connection, as in many others, exist fundamental differences which somehow affect the armed forces. [but] the sense for family ties and community life is common to the entire population".3 Kesselring's point here is that the great diversity of the people resulted in a military force which lacked cohesion and sense of purpose. Perhaps those at the highest levels of government and those few well-educated, understood the concept of nationalism, but the common soldier was often dedicated only to his family, perhaps to his village and finally to his own preservation. Kesselring discusses in more detail the situation in the Mediterranean when he arrived in November 1941: It was characterized by the breakdown of the supply system serving Axis forces in Africa. This breakdown was becoming increasingly evident. British command of the sea and air over Mediterranean waters became more and more pronounced. Malta was a naval and air base. As such it had become the center of attention. Rommel's position in Africa had become critical. He was fighting a delaying action east of Derna. He was hampered in his operation by the presence of infantry divisions and, particularly, by Italian divisions of low combat efficiency.4 In his general evaluation of the Italian forces, he says, Africa was the theater of war of the Italians. In Albania, Greece, Croatia, and France forces were tied down in considerable numbers and to an extent which I do not quite understand. The reservoir of youths of draftable age had by far not been drained sufficiently. Continued colonial wars had caused heavy loses. Many circles were perceptibly tired of war The war effort was directed from the homeland and the homeland did not feel the impact of the war. In my opinion the war was not conducted in a manner corresponding to the responsibility of the rest of the nation to the front-line soldier. There was a certain listlessness. Where a total effort of every man, woman and machine was needed, half-way measures were adopted. This insufficiency in the personal and material effort was not due to effective shortages, but to an incomprehensible restraint. I was able to establish this fact after Italy's defection while I was observing manpower at hand in camps and ports". The following statement is important, in that Kesselring makes an observation regarding the loss of the war: "Regardless of whether it was the absence of an over-all survey over available stocks and the lack of familiarity with the requirements of the campaign, whether it was the idea of facilitating the transition to peacetime economy through smaller investment during the war, or whether it was pure business spirit, there is one fact that stands out, and that is the truth that the attendant disadvantages [shortcomings] resulted in the loss of Africa and Sicily". "The Italian armed forces were on the whole not prepared for war. Rather than take cognizance of things as they really stood, the Italian Command--and I believe I may exclude Cavallero--indulged in wishful thinking. German aid was requested in the required amounts when it was too late and when the useful effect of that aid was no longer in proportion to the effort made. I gained the impression that this restraint grew out of the prestige of a pride in he Italian armed forces and their achievements. Shortly before Italy's defection, the last Chief of Staff, General (Generaloberst) Ambrosio, effected a change in tactics and demanded such nonsensically high performances of troops and material that, judging from the nature and scope of these demands, subsequent shady intentions could be guessed." "The Italian soldier cannot be compared to the German soldier. Training, in itself insufficient, was conducted on a peacetime basis and on barracks level; field service was neglected. There was a lack of contact between officers and men. If the enlisted men had not been so pitifully naive and easily satisfied, the consequences would have consisted not only of a defeat, but also of a mutiny within the Armed forces. The quality of higher command ranged from good to very good. With well-trained and well-equipped troops it should undoubtedly have been successful. The quality deteriorated rapidly toward the lower echelons and yet, exceptions proved the rule. I observed units of the three services of the Italian armed forces that could compete with any European troops ss far as courage and aggressive spirit are concerned".5 Kesselring's analysis of higher commands is interesting but debateable in that it was often the decisions of the higher commands which got the Italian armed forces into their predicaments. Political in-fighting between high ranking officers was a problem which dated back to World War I and had a negative impact throughout World War II. His evaluation continues: "Army Africa: There were not enough [Italian] motorized units. Tanks did not have sufficient antitank protection. Their armament was unsatisfactory. Antitank weapons were insufficient in number and inefficient in performance. Infantry weapons were inadequate. Artillery was of high quality, but not adapted for action against Allied artillery due to insufficient range. Signal communications facilities were not developed adequately. Supply, including that of rations, was unsatisfactory. The number of divisions hardly approached the level of minimum requirements. The quality of the divisions left much to be desired. Divisions of higher combat efficiency were available in Italy. The problems of furlough, relief, and rations had a destructive effect on morale." Sicily: There were two divisions of medium quality; the rest were below average. It is difficult to visualize how badly coastal defenses had been neglected.6 Because Kesselring was charged with the logistic support of North Africa, a primary concern was that of shipping. He was quite critical of Italy's contribution in this effort and refers to it as a "fair weather fleet". Although he termed the morale of the fleet to be high, deficiencies in equipment (due to the age of the fleet) precluded day-time duels with enemy fleets: "There was a certain Italian reluctance to risk the loss of ships perhaps in hope of preserving the fleet for the long-awaited peace. The merchant fleet was never, therefore, put on a wartime footing. In fact, the Italian nation never felt compelled to totally mobilize for war both in manpower and industry despite the defeats she had suffered in the past partly for those reasons. In partial defense of the Italian fleet, there was a tremendous shortage of fuel oil and coal which often immobilized both the German and Italian fleets". Kesselring makes a poignant statement regarding war in general, but it applies particularly well to the Italian fleet in this instance, and that is: "Victory cannot be expected where action is governed by fear of losses".8 One facet of the Italian navy must be mentioned before continuing with the general evaluation of the armed forces. Despite the fact that the Italian battle fleet was never employed against enemy convoys, the Navy did possess an asset which caused considerable concern to the British--The Decima Flottiglia MAS" (the Sea Devils) This unit was a group of select seamen who developed techniques for sinking enemy shipping through the use of human-guided torpedoes called "maiali" or "pigs", as well as frogmen and explosive boats. Through courage and daring, these men were able to sink over a quarter of a million tons of British shipping before the British realized what was happening to them. The book, The Sea Devils, written by Valerio Borghese, Commander of the Decima Flottiglia MAS, describes in detail the exploits of this group and demonstrates nationalism, patriotism and courage rivaling that of any of the world's great military forces. This coincides with Kesselring's observation that there were definitely exceptions to the general rule that Italian forces were sub-standard. Rommel, in the meantime, had to cope with forces which, because of factors already mentioned, did not function nearly as well as the Decima Flottiglia MAS. Because of Rommel's lack of confidence in Italian forces, he employed them according to their combat efficiency and in "sectors where their failure would not cause a disaster". They were usually placed in close proximity to German forces where the latter could act as a screen. Kesselring said of the Italian Divisions fighting in Tunisia in January, 1943, that, ... whenever the enemy attacked the Italian mountain positions, he succeeded in breaking into the valley and inflicting heavy losses. German counterattacks had to repair the damage...the Italians could not be trusted even with missions of minor importance". While Italian and German forces floundered in North Africa, the slow-paced effort at home in Italy frustrated the Germans. Mussolini's response to German complaints of Italian lack of dedication was that the Italian people were "war-weary from long and exhausting colonial wars, and that too much precious blood had been spilled".9 General Cavallero, Chief of the General Staff, recognized the deficiency in the Italian mentality toward the "total war" concept and he made every attempt to coordinate government and public institutions to pull Italy out of its peace-time attitude but when Cavallero was replaced that effort ended. Kesselring said that, during his stay in Rome, he never had the impression that the people knew from the beginning that they were fighting for their very existence, but that they became aware of the drama, which was unfolding, only in the course of the war, when they had to undergo the air attacks and had lost their colonial empire and the islands in front of the main land...I shall never forget the impression of peace-time life Rome made on me at the time of the battles for the Anzio-Nettuno beachhead which were raging nearby".10 A major German concern was the poor training given to Italian forces. They seemed to have a garrison mentality, and, in fact, much of their training was done in garrison--a totally inappropriate practice for exposing troops to the hardships of the battlefield. Kesselring said, "The training remained superficial, without having reached a satisfactory level. One only has to closely watch a simple changing of the guard procedure to arrive at this judgement. The Italian soldier was not a soldier from within".11 Returning to the subject of armament and weapons--the Italians were hopelessly antiquated in this area. Many experts feel that the Italians had the poorest small arms of all the combatants of the war. Their anti-tank and anti-armor weapons were extremely scarce and what they did have, such as 40mm anti-tank guns were almost totally ineffective against enemy armor. Italian ships had no radar and could not, therefore, fight at night, nor did they have antisubmarine warfare capability, which rendered them useless for convoy escorting. The Air Force, for its part, was equipped with planes deficient in armament, speed and communications. As for weapons used in the defense of the homeland--what few antiaircraft guns existed were entirely antiquated and useless. We have already noted the weak officer-enlisted relationship which existed during World War I. That tradition continued into World War II and was observed with concern by Kesselring. He said, The ordinary soldier received--even in the field--entirely different rations from those issued to non-commissioned officers and officers. The size of the ration was multiplied according to rank, and larger amounts obviously also meant a better choice of good food. The officers ate according to their ranks, increasingly well and copiously. The ordinary soldier was issued the most frugal ration; had it been plentiful and good, the officer would obviously not have needed the double, or still higher, ration quantity. The officers, etc. ate separately by themselves, without contact with their men, often not knowing what and how much they received. Thus, the war-time comradeship, the main feature of which is the community of life and death, was being undermined...I have often pointed out to Cavallero, what a dangerous effect the above-mentioned conditions had on the morale of the men...I have personally experienced that our German field kitchens were being practically besieged by Italian soldiers, while I was eating excellently on the customary officers ration in the Italian officers mess". But Kesselring continued his unbiased appraisal with: I do not intend to expose deficiencies by making the above statements, but only want to clarify the reasons for the failure of the Italian soldier in order to give interested persons the possibility for taking corrective actions. I also do not want to deny in any way that the relationship ketween officers and men was nevertheless a good one".12 Kesselring did not hesitate to applaude the "fundamental decency of the simple Italian man and of the possibility of progressively developing him into a good tough fighter and soldier". His appraisals of the Italian soldier's abilities must be considered very valid because he saw them first hand. He said, I have seen much too many heroic performances of Italian units and individuals--such as the Folgore Division near El Alamein, the artillery in the Tunisian battles, the crews of the Kleinstkampfmittel (smallest means of combat such as one man torpedoes) of the Navy, the crews of torpedo boats, the units of torpedo bombers, etc.--not to express this opinion with conviction. But the decision [outcome] in a war is not brought about by top performances of individuals but by the training condition and morale of the entire army. It is therefore wrong to represent the Italian soldiers and the Italian people all together as militarily inferior and unsuitable for a tough war.. In this context, Mussoloni and his former state secretaries are either guilty of gross neglect, or Mussolini is definitely guilty of not having desisted from war if he was aware of these precarious gaps.13 In World War II, there were, of course, a great many forces operating against one another especially in the Mediterranean and North African theaters. Analyses by these forces, together with those of Italy's German allies, help to validate one another and provide focus on their deficiencies and strengths. John Herrington, in his book Air War Against Germany and Italy--1939-l943, describes combat in the Mediterranean and North Africa between the Axis air powers and those of the British and Australians. The author does not usually provide definitive evaluations of the Italian Air Force; however, one can deduce from the readings the state of training, the aggressiveness, and overall capabilities of the Italians in this arena. It is interesting to note that initial British estimates of Italian capabilities far exceeded reality. Perhaps this was a result of Mussolini's great show prior to the outbreak of hostilities which, as previously mentioned, were nothing more than a facade. In referring to the Libyan campaign, Herington says, Against this scattered, obsolescent and difficult-to-reinforce British force, it was estimated the Italians could immediately dispose approximately twice the number of aircraft both in the Eastern Mediterranean and East African theaters, and that the former at least could be readily reinforced at will from Italy. However, Longmore [commander of Middle East forces] felt confident that what his forces lacked in quantity would, in any real prolonged test of strength, be compensated by the offensive spirit and more solid experience and training of his air and ground crews.14 The Italians had somehow given the impression to their enemies that they would be an aggressive force as indicated by Herington's, "Faced with apparently overwhelming enemy numbers [Italian] the R.A.F. decided that when Italy actually entered the war it would employ its small but well-trained forces promptly and offensively".15 The actual response of the Italians was not at all the offensive spirit that the British expected. Herington writes, Low-flying attacks began against Italian bases both in Libya and East Africa punctually on 11th June and similar attacks continued throughout the month. The general result was to force the Italians into a defensive attitude and they made little attempt to exploit their theoretical superiority in numbers... By October, Italian inefficiency, the opening of the Takoradi route, and the forceful R.A.F tactics had given hopes of an even greater air offensive if only more supplies of aircraft and crews could be obtained". He said, in addition: "The preceeding five months [of the Libyan campaign] however, had already shown that the numerically inferior R.A.F. by determined aggression could pin down and harrass the Italian Air Force... one important result of the initial drive of the 7th Armored Division was to force the Italians to abandon in haste all airfields of the Derna-Martuba group, and, while waiting for their own supplies, British squadrons which had moved forward to these landing grounds made use of enemy stores. Bombing attacks were soon resumed on Tobruk, Derna and Benghazi and small as the R.A.F. effort was it exceeded by a considerable margin that of the Italians who made only sporadic bombing attacks with single aircraft on Salum, Bardia and forward troops. Enemy fighter cover was practically non-existent, and the Regia Aeronautica was almost a spent force. Since the campaign opened on 8th December it had lost 154 aircraft in battle, while on every landing ground now taken over by the advancing [British] army and air force, aircraft in all states of airworthiness were found abandoned in large numbers".16 From reading this passage, one cannot determine the reason for such quick abandonement, but it seems odd that planes which were probably flyable could not have somehow been moved to the rear. Herington's book gives a very detailed, accurate, and unbiased account of air warfare with the Italians and Germans. It must be mentioned that the Italians did account for themselves fairly well on occasion, but never seemed to show the aggressiveness or joint will to take advantage of their superior numbers. As Kesselring said, "a military force cannot be afraid to take losses if it is to be effective in battle". We cannot leave the subject of Italian combat effectiveness without including a British evaluation on the subject. In his book, Condotta Italiana della Guerra _(Italian Conduct of War), the author, Lucio Cevi includes a section by a British military analyist which was translated into Italian as "Analisi britannica della capacita combattiva delle forze italiane in Africa, 27 gennaio 1941". The following is my translation back into English. It is titled. "British analysis of the combat effectiveness of the Italians in Africa, 27 January 1941": 1. The main characteristic of Italian tactics in both theaters of war in Libya and eastern Africa, has been that of rigidity. They have remained attached to one principle which consists of the concentration of the greatest mass possible for whatever task lay ahead of them. In the attack, they spread this mass along the front and they depend on the weight of numbers alone to break through. It is true that they demonstrate the tendency to advance in separate and parallel columns, and that they achieved with success some penetrations in Somalia. But in practice these tactics didn't have the aim of encircling our own positions and they weren't able to penetrate them and they succeeded simply and solely because of the small size of our forces. So the mass of the enemy advanced on a fairly wide front with its "wings" stretched out at a great distance... 2. The first direction of a column which ran along the irregular terrain of Sidi Barrani initially looked like an encircling movement, but suddenly it appeared that the column was simply part of the attacking mass along the front. Other smaller offensive actions followed the same procedure: Kassala, Gallabat, Mojale. In all of these it was possible with ridiculously few troops to cause grave losses to the compact masses of the enemy before we retreated. 3. In addition, when they are halted, the Italian forces are not capable of continuing their attack using lateral units for fire support, nor do they use the leap-frog tactic with their reserve. It is true that during the attack on Sidi Barrani, a division was made to advance through the Libyan divisions, but that happened without any military purpose and only to give the Fascists the glory of entering Sidi Barrani first. The method of support in the offense consists of successive pushes by the reserve from the rear to the front so that by weight of the masses the main body recommences the movement. Inevitably that results in a great loss of troops on the front line, as occurred in Somalia. 4. The Italian method of defense is not any better than their offensive tactics. Either they form a series of strong points in shallow depth in which they ammass as many men and machine guns as possible, or else they form a front of ammassed units with no reserve. The first method was put to use in the western desert where fortified areas were organized, strong by themselves. but incapable of mutual support. At Kassala squads of men were pushed ahead and when they realized that their flanks were turned, they sent other masses to the wings leaving themselves without a reserve. It is evident that the enemy thought very little about the problem of retreat and that when forced to do so, they were not able to quickly disengage to retreat. 5. The use of the counterattack seemed to be unknown to the enemy. He never carried out an organized counterattack in any theater of war, although in the western desert and especially at Bardia he had all the means to do it. 6. It is not difficult to find reasons for these tactical errors. First of all, the youngest elements of the Italian army were educated to consider themselves invincible just because they are Italians and Fascists and because they have illustrious leaders such as Mussolini and his clique. To the Italians it has been taught that their enemies are very inferior and that it's enough to advance and yell "A noi!" (To us) and the enemy will be defeated... Secondly, the advancement system according to political methods produces commanders and staff officers who are incapable and which causes suspicion and jealousy. 7. In conclusion, Italian military theory and practice are very antiquated and their military hierarchy, supported in part by formalism and in part by political jealously, can't adapt to modern warfare... but it would be a mistake, at the same time, to underestimate indiscriminately the combative virtues of the Italian soldier. --today, whipped by reversals, finding himself embarrassed by the prolongation of a war which had been promised would be of short duration, discouraged by a shortages of equipment and material which is attributed to favoritism among the heads of the party, the Italian soldier has no desire to fight in conditions of tension and misfortune. And so it went in North Africa. Many totally diverse sources criticize the Italian system for its antiquation, its political corruption and its general malaise. But it should also be noted that many also praised the Italian soldier for his ability when he was properly led and equipped. It is not individual soldiers, however, who win wars, but united, functioning governments and a supportive populace. Such was the dilemma of Italy. Could the Italians possibly change this trend of incompetence in the middle of the war? Perhaps the more important question was, "did they want to remain in the war?" CHAPTER V NEAR THE END By the time Italy was two years into the war, her leadership realized the incredible blunder they had made. Their frustration with the poor performance of Italy's forces combined with the domineering German occupation created extreme turmoil throughout the country. It is important for the student of Italian military history to be familiar with the documents which reflect the feelings of the leadership of the country as the war progressed. One of those documents is From the Ashes of Disgrace by Admiral Franco Maugeri. Admiral Maugeri was Director of Italian Naval Intelligence in l94l when Mussolini declared war on the Allies and as such, he was very close to the highest officials in the Italian government, including Count Ciano, the Foreign Minister. Maugeri's book includes a dialogue between Ciano and himself which must be included here because it is a perfect example of the guilt, the confusion, the hate, and utter exasperation which permeated the minds of those in power: CIANO: The trouble with the Italian Navy is the same thing that's wrong with the Italian Army and Air Force and everything else in Italy today--the blockheaded, arrogant, selfish German swine. They are the real cause of all our failures. On land, at sea, in the air. Don't you agree, Admiral?" MAUGERI: I think perhaps-- CIANO: Yes, you're quite right. There's the root of all our troubles, all our misfortunes. the Germans. Not that we Italians aren't to blame, too. We must be realistic, Maugeri. Always realistic. At all costs. That's what I keep telling the Duce. There's no sense fooling ourselves with rose-colored pictures and opium dreams. The situation today doesn't look too bright, does it? Not only the military situation, I mean, or the diplomatic one--Dio mio, they are bad enough! It's the situation Italy that worries me most, the difficulties and dangers it presents for us. And they're getting worse every day, Maugeri. Every day! The spirit of the people is extremely poor. They're not backing the war effort the way they should. Oh, I know how they feel about it, and I can't altogether blame them. There are many things about it I'm not in accord with myself. Mussolini says that immediate incentives are lacking. What incentive is it for us to pull Hitler's chestnuts out of the fire? Do you know what they're saying in Milan these days? To end the war, let's even win it. How can anyone expect us to win the war, if the people have that attitude? It's out of the question, Admiral. It can't be done! MAUGERI: Perhaps it's because the people are realists, Your Excellency. CIANO: They're worse than realists! They're pessimists! They're defeatists! Yes, that's where the trouble lies. Our people have no faith in the war, or in their leaders, or in anything. They've completely lost their will to win--if they ever had it to begin with. Sometimes I wonder. Maybe Mussolini is right. Maybe the Italian people do lack character. We've spent millions upon millions, giving them education, building schools for them, training teachers, supplying books. And what do we have to show for it? A population only interested in itself, utterly unwilling to make sacrifices, utterly lacking in loyalty, in gratitude to the Duce and the Fascist Party that made all these wonderful things possible. Sometimes, Admiral, sometimes I get quite discouraged and disillusioned. But it's not just the rank-and-file. That's the worst of it. That miserable, self-seeking, niggardly spirit has infected the Party, too, and the armed forces. Maybe not the Navy, but certainly the Army and Air Force are crawling with it. Take a man like Vidussoni. What right has he got to hold a job like that? A cretin! An utter incompetent! The only reason he got the job was because he's been sleeping with one of the Duce's mistresses. What can he possibly know? He's hardly a boy, a mere boy. He's not more than twenty-seven or twenty-eight, at most. Yes! Yes! I know what you're going to say--I was only thirty-three when I became Foreign Minister. But there's a little difference between Vidussoni and me, Maugeri. Isn't that true? And look at the spectacle of our Army! A crook like Cavallero holding down the job of Chief of the General Staff, the job that Marshal Badoglio held for eighteen years before him. It's ridiculous, my dear Maugeri! Utterly ridiculous! How can we expect to win a war with a man like him running the show, a man who has sold himself completely to the Germans? Cavallero is a thoroughly dishonest individual. Worse than that, he doesn't even know his job. He's a stupid, incapable, meddling bungler. All he knows is to do just what the Germans tell him. No, no, Admiral. what we need is a change, a complete change. That's the only thing that's going to pull povera ftalia [poor Italy] out of this mess. Don't you agree?1 Such was the mentality of one of the top figures in Italian government. Though childish-sounding, Ciano fairly accurately evaluated the attitude of the Italian people. Probably the most accurate statement was "They've completely lost their will to win--if they ever had it to begin with". Certainly there were zealots all over Italy who were looking for a fight, but the reservation and lack of aggressiveness on the part of the majority clearly reflect Ciano's statement. Why die for a cause in which you don't believe? This attitude did not change until the Italians defected to the Allied side and formed the Resistance Movement. A final quote must be made from Maugeri's book which well describes the Italian dilemma as follows: "The winter of 1942-43 found most of us who hoped for a free Italy faced with this hard, bitter, painful truth: we could never throw off our chains if the Axis were victorious. If in the autumn of that year, as Ciano had said, the people's attitude was, "To end the war, let's even win it," by midwinter it had become, "To get rid of Fascism and the Germans, let's even lose it." The more we loved our country, the more we had to pray for its defeat on the field of battle. Patriotic Italians knew that victory meant only worse slavery for Italy. Never would we be able to get a triumphant Germnany off our backs. Our sole hope of winning freedom lay in losing the war. Such was the Tragic Dilemma that confronted us."2 The dilemma faced by Maugeri and other high ranking officials of the government was faced, perhaps to a lesser extent, by the common soldier who had to decide where his loyalties should lie. The majority of the Italian people were fed up with Fascism and the German occupation. Should the Italian soldier who probably felt little, if any, devotion to the Fascist regime, oppose the allied forces which would lift that awful yoke from the backs of the people? Every soldier and every officer had to make that decision and it was very apparent when allied troops finally invaded Sicily on 10 July 1943 what the majority of Italian forces had decided to do. The armistice was not signed with the Allies until 3 September 1943, and yet the majority of Italian forces had long since decided how they wanted the war to end. An observer of this collapse of Italian will was Christopher Buckley who was a war correspondent with the British Eigth Army when they landed in Sicily. His description of the assault and of the Italian "resistance" there gives a clear picture of the attitude of the people and of their weariness of war. He says, in his book, Road to Rome, Despite the paucity of enemy de fences as revealed in aerial photographs, I had visualized us disembarking on to heavily wired beaches under a hail of fire from hitherto concealed and unsuspected machine-gun positions. I had imagined us burrowing down into the sand for protection. Yet here was I within quarter of an hour of landing in Europe seated in a leafy lane feeling mildly discomforted because I was dirty and unshaven. It seemed too ridiculously prosaic... Later I learned that there had been some losses at the original landing, but very few. One of the battalions reported only one man killed and six wounded in the course of the entire day. Resistance, in fact, had been almost negligible. Only in the American area in the neighbourhood of Gela was opposition really serious where there were Germans present among the defenders, and they counter-attacked with tanks, penetrating almost to the beach".3 Although Buckley says that there were pockets of resistance or isolated snipers who vainly attempted to oppose the landing on Sicily, for the most part, the Italians wanted no part of the battle as he describes in the following scenarios: Down the lane came numbers of green-uniformed Italian soldiers, about two hundred of them in two or three separate batches. They weren't even guarded; they were just marching in to surrender with their hands up. Some of them were laughing and joking. They were quite ready to talk and explain away their defeat in terms of the poor quality of their equipment. "What do you expect? Italy is a poor country; Britain and America are rich. When do you suppose the war will end? ... Sometimes they gave themselves up to a single British soldier, sometimes they didn't even wait for that but simply walked down the road to find someone to whom they could surrender. Groups of men carrying white flags were seen approaching down the road, and the firing died away. There was no apparent reason, for the enemy didn't appear to have suffered many losses and they certainly hadn't shot away their ammunition. They had simply had enough.4 In the middle of this mass surrender, villages throughout Sicily were being liberated, and various mayors announced the arrival of the Allies and decreed that the peoples' right to speech and writing had been restored and that all political prisoners would be immediately released. The scene in virtually all of the villages was that of jubilance and great relief that the Allies had arrived. Unfortunately, these scenes of capitulation further mar the image of the Italian soldier especially when coupled with other battles such as that of Caporetto, where there was also mass surrender. Perhaps the most comical scene depicted by Buckley illustrates without a doubt that the Italians had had enough of Germans and Fascists and wanted to assist the Allies any way they could: "Men in green field uniforms were eagerly assisting in the unloading. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. There could be no doubt about it. This was the Italian defending force, and they were queueing up to help the invaders disembark their equipment and stores.5 Buckley also makes a poignant statement which sums up somewhat the feelings of many regarding the plight of the Italian soldier in World War II: "But it was a fact that as this campaign progressed one seemed increasingly to regret, even to resent, Italian deaths. It was all so unnecessary. Why did they have to get in the way and get themselves killed? Our quarrel was not with them. They were so pathetically ill-armed, their uniforms so shabby and second-rate.6 The common Italian people including the soldiers did, in fact, get in the way of this war. They did not want it in the first place but were forced to fight it. Many fought the war out of patriotism despite a flawed cause, and many fought for personal honor, but a united effort was never made. It has been mentioned elsewhere in this study that the guerrilla operations conducted by the Resistance Movement after the defection to the Allied side did not reflect this same kind of pathos, confusion and lack of fighting ability. A brief account of guerrilla fighting in Italy is included here to show both sides of the Italian soldier in combat. The Italian partisan movement was, for the most part, a political one and was promoted by many different factions including former military officers and troops, Communists, and unaffiliated civilians. But all were united in their common goal to finally rid Italy of the Fascists and the Germans. They operated independently of the Allies which was of concern to them, but the most important point is that they were effective and created chaos for the Germans behind the lines. The Italian who had previously been characterized as "not too serious about anything but wine, women and cigarettes" now became a tough guerrilla fighter who was ruthless in combat. Field Marshal Albert Kesselring has already been extensively quoted in reference to the Italians as allies. Since he remained in command of northern Italy after the Italian defection, he also had to face them as enemies. Kesselring's frustration with the situation is indicated in his post-war account: Italy entered the war against Germany's will. German army and navy units as well as air forces were requested to support the cause. They arrived and fought for Italy's life interests. The amount of German blood spilled in Africa, Tunis, Sicily and southern Italy was immense but it was endured. The numerically far superior Italian army units fought almost without exception not nearly as hard; at times it was obvious they were holding back. Even this was endured in view of the Italian friendship. The situation changed, however, as soon as Italy, with the full support of the Allies and after withdrawing from the Axis, proclaimed "guerrilla warfare". Its origin and its method was contrary to international law and turned the previous conradeship in arms to brutal murder.7 Kesselring comments extensively on the lawlessness and "brutality" of the Partisan groups, but whether or not the guerrillas were operating within the framework of international law is not the concern here. What is important, is the fact that these units were so effective. Kesselring say of this effectiveness: Guerrilla bands in Istria, Northeastern Lombardy, with the point of main effort at Doerz and in the Alps area to the north thereof, fought in a still more ruthless and brutal manner...they were locally separated and possessed great fighting qualities... reconnaissance groups were expertly trained and appeared in very small groups which could fully depend upon each other. The men were party followers of a very high caliber, ready to risk anything.8 These Italian guerrillas caused thousands of German casualties and they forced the enemy to divert many thousands of troops from the front to control guerrilla activities in the rear. The people in the cities also finally understood who the enemy was and united themselves against the German occupiers. One of the greatest episodes in Italian history occurred in Naples when the starving and practically disarmed people of the city rose up in response to a German forced-labor proclamation and defeated their captors after a four-day struggle. When the Allies first arrived on October 1, the city had already been liberated. The Resistance Movement is discussed briefly here to show that the Italian nation was willing to sacrifice itself in combat when it truly had a cause. Their sacrifice is painfully evident in the post-war figures of Resistance casualties. Data published by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 1945 indicates that there were 27,000 dead and 17,000 wounded in battle; 20,000 dead and 986 wounded in acts of reprisal; victims of crimes consequent to Nazi-Fascist atrocities an acts of reprisal: 19,204 (709 of whom were hanged and 506 burned alive); plus 33 groups of people massacred; a total of 66,204 dead. And so, for the Italians, World War II ended in both disgrace and triumph. They had not been capable of fielding an army which could beat the enemy without German assistance and yet once united in a common cause and free of regional and political differences, they were fierce and convincing adversaries. And now the Italians faced the almost insurmountable task of repairing the devastation that war had wrought on their peninsula. Along with the problem of rebuilding the country came the penetrating question--could Italy ever develop a political system which would truly reflect the will of her people--one which would act responsibly and unitedly in implementing foreign policy. But more than that, could she ever field a military force whose training, equipping and morale would render it effective against future foes? CHAPTER VI CONCLUSION What, finally, is to be said of the Italian military system? Based on this general analysis of Italy's experience in war, can it be said that, when viewed as a sole entity, without the negative influences of a political system, it is any better or worse than other European forces? Similarly, can the Italian soldier be considered less capable than his counterpart in other armies of the world? It was indicated that, at least in the late 19th Century, the Italian Army was not significantly different in recruitment or training from those of the other major powers of Europe. It has also been indicated that genetics play no part in determining the fighting ability of a people, except perhaps in isolated individuals. The German Army's tremendous performance of the 19th and 20th centuries, was due, not to the supremacy of the "Aryan race", but to generations of regimentation and discipline. When such generations are exposed to the cunning diatribe of a Hitler or other persuasive dictator, the result is an army the capabilities (although not necessarily the objectives) of which serve as a model for all others. Mussolini was also acutely aware of the kind of society required to fulfill the aims of a militarist, imperialist dictatorship. He must have greatly envied German society, the duplication of which he knew was not possible in Italy. Although the Fascists had taught for twenty years, "Libro e moschetto-fascista perfetto" (Book and rifle make the perfect fascist), they were not able to produce the same results that centuries of Germanic rigidity had accomplished in the North. They attempted to impose structure on Italian life, but the culture could not accept it. The Italian remained devoted to his family, to his church and to his regional culture. Because Mussolini's peasant society failed to transpose itself into a modern Roman legion, he lost confidence in its ability and yet thrust it into battle with little hope of success. The outbreak of World War II brought the people of the combatant countries together as only war can do. Mussolini, however, faced the task of winning the war with a divided nation. With images of World War I still in many minds, most Italians had no desire to become involved in another major conflict. Many Italians felt that their country was engaged in an illegal act of aggression, and as the war progressed with great loss of life, the populace became increasingly disenchanted. It became apparent early in the war that Italy's preparation was pitiful, and as her forces were defeated in battle after battle, humiliation was heaped upon the guilt that her society already felt. One cannot divorce the soldier from origins. The soldier is, in fact, a reflection of his society and he therefore mirrors its mores and spirit. Apart from the dedicated and fanatical Fascist blackshirts who wholeheartedly supported the war, the common soldier harbored no feelings of conquest and certainly had no reason to hate his British or the American "enemies". It became a tragic dilemma, then, when pushed by a sense of duty, the soldier fought an enemy which was created by the government but which was not accepted as such from within. Such is the plight of all soldiers. One must serve his country but how does a thinking man serve a regime which is not only repressive to its own people but brutal in its imperial conquests. We must, then, view the Italian soldier of World War II with a certain empathy. As indicated throughout this study, the entire period, from 1848 to 1945 was fraught with such regional, political and international turmoil, that the Italian military faced great trials, the greatest of which were achieving unity within its own ranks and receiving support from a firm political base. Throughout this period, poorly defined national interests often conflicted with the regional, religious and family values that Italians inherently felt. Italy's armed forces today have had the benefit of forty years of self-analysis since World War II and they have proven to be one of our strongest allies in Europe, as evidenced, for example, by the early deployment of Pershing missiles in Sicily. As this close friendship has developed within the NATO structure, Italy has benefitted both from the operational techniques of her allies as well as from their technologies. Italy's leadership structure still seems to be plagued, however, by political in-fighting although discussions with officers who have worked with Italian senior staffs reveal that Italian officers, are, for the most part, very capable. Two recent operations highlight the high-level planning and execution capabilities of the Italian military, carabinieri (special police), and intelligence agencies. The rescue of General Dozier in 1981 from Red Brigage terrorists and the heavy Italian involvement in the Beirut operation demonstrated that the Italians could effectively coordinate highly sensitive and politically significant missions. It is the opinion of many U.S. officers, that, because of the aforementioned successes, and because of her demonstrated performance in NATO air, ground and naval exercises, Italy will be capable of effectively performing her role of assisting in the defense of the southern flank along with other NATO forces. Despite the fact that Italy's military consists primarily of conscripts, (they view our volunteer force as ridiculously expensive) they are viewed as adequate for the task. The Alpini troops who are trained in mountain warfare, are particularly good and they demonstrate high morale, esprit de corps and they have the benefit of much better equipment than that which was seen in World War II and previous conflicts.. Throughout this study, equipment has been a recurring issue. It has always been poor. Despite the fact that Italy continues to resist spending any significant amount of its currently impressive Gross National Product, Italian troops are well-equipped, well-fed and well-trained. They are the beneficiary of a booming Italian arms industry which provides them with state-of-the-art weaponry (if not in the amounts they would like to have). The Italian Navy is a significant force in the Mediterranean and would be considered a deterrent to aggression from the East. A concept, however, which has been difficult for the Italians to deal with is that of power projection. They want a Navy capable of defending their extensive shores but they don't want its capability to extend beyond those bounds. A recent proposal by the Navy to buy AV-8 aircraft has been held up in Parliament because the Harrier is viewed as a weapons system which could project power beyond that which is necessary or national defense. The Italian Air Force is currently suffering from retention problems, as are many Air Forces throughout the Western world, as airlines vie for the services of both pilots and mechanics. However, the Air Force is considered adequate, although not up to the standards of some of the other European countries such as that of Germany, for example. Joint training exercises with United States and other NATO forces have significantly improved pilot expertise. The most important aspect of Italy's capability to defend herself lies in her political system. Throughout her history, this confused governing body has been responsible, in large part, for getting Italy involved in conflicts which she was not prepared to fight. Analysing modern Italian politics cannot be done in a few paragraphs let alone in volumes. The many parties which make up the parliament have strong interests and concerns. The two primary parties, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists are at opposite ends of the Conservative-Liberal spectrum. The Communist Party has also been very strong in Italy since World War II and, although it does not espouse Soviet communism, its weight puts left-wing pressure on an otherwise Moderate or Moderate-Right government. The difficulty with a coalition of such extremes as it concerns the military is, of course, the question of government support in the event of conflict. Will the government be able to reach a consensus on a course of action and will the government ultimately gain the support of the general populace. As previously stated, the memory of World War II tends to create a conservative attitude toward the involvement of Italian forces in conflict. The use of Italian forces in Beirut and the Persian gulf are examples of this concern. Those forces did deploy (and performed admirably) but only after significant debate in Parliament. To Italy's advantage, she has experienced significant economic and social change since World War II and has assumed a new national identity as a result of her emergence as a world industrial power. She exports "high-tech" products throughout the world including sophisticated electronics systems and state-of-the-art military weapons systems. Italy and everything Italian has become fashionable. Italian cars, Italian clothing and even Italian weapons are in style. It is very common on television, for example, to see police carrying the new Italian Beretta 92-F automatic pistol, and, of course, the car of choice for the truly elite, is the Italian-made Ferrari. The advent of the industrial age in Italy has thus created for the Italians a new image abroad and has given them a new sense of pride and national identity. Modernization in Italy has also brought with it improved communications in the form of television and radio. These, too, have broken somewhat, regional barriers and have brought the people together as a nation. The full potential of this great people remains as yet unrealized. The heritage of daVinci, Galileo, Michelangelo and Marconi is reflected in the genius of a progressive, modern society. But the question remains. . .will this people have the national will to overcome the political and military failures of the past to defend all that they have gained? That question will be answered in the next war. ENDNOTES Chapter I, The 19th Century and Italy's Unification 1Shepard B. Clough and Salvatore Saladino, A History of Modern Italy, (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1968), p. 65. 2Ibid., p. 145. 3Ibid., p. 220. Chapter II, Italy Enters World War I 1Clough, op. cit., p. 308. 2Clough, op. cit., p. 306. 3Erwin Rommel, Attacks, (Vienna, Virginia: Athena Press, 1979), p. 202. 4Ibid. p. 216. 5Ibid., p. 238. 6Ibid., p. 244. 7Ibid., p. 250. 8Ibid., p. 269. 9Ibid., p. 271 10Ibid., p. 274. 11Ibid., p. 274. 12Ibid., p. 310. 13John Keegan, The Face of Battle, (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 335. 14Clough, op. cit., p. 336. 15Clough, op. cit., p. 337. Chapter III, Italy Seeks Its National Identity Under Mussolini: The Tragedy of World War II 1Anthony James Joes, Mussolini, (New York: Franklin Watts, 1982), p. 220. 2Mario Cervi, The Hollow Legions, (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., l97l), p. 67. 3Ibid., p. 68. 4Ibid., pp. 68-75. 5Ibid., p. 70. 6Ibid., p. 76. 7Ibid., p. 78. 8Ibid., p. 82. 9Ibid., p. 207. 10Ibid,, p. 209. 11Ibid., p. 212. 12Ibid., p. 221. 13Ibid., p. 222. 14Ibid., p. 230. 15Ibid., p. 234. 16Ibid., pp. 245-246. 17Ibid., p. 252. 18Ibid., p. 240. 19Donald S. Detwiler, World War II German Military Studies, (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1979), p. D-l45-l5. 20Ibid., p. D-145-7. Chapter IV, Operations in North Africa 1Detwiler, op. cit., p. C-0l5-4. 2Ibid., p. C-0l5-4. 3lbid., p.C-015-5. 4Ibid., p. T-3-Pl-63. 5lbid., pp. T-3-Pl-10. 6Ibid., p. T-3-Pl-12. 7Ibid., p. T-3-Pl-18. 8Ibid., p. T-3-Pl-12. 9Ibid., p. T-3-Pl-25. 10Ibid., p. C-015-8. 11Ibid., p. C-015-ll. 12Ibid., p. C-015-ll-13. 13Ibid., p. C-015-10. 14John Herington, Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-43, (Sydney: Halstead Press, 1962), p. 54. 15Ibid., p. 55. 16Ibid., p. 60. 17Lucio Cervi, La Condotta Italiana della Guerra, (Milano: Feltrinelli), p. 191. Chapter V, Near the End 1Franco Maugeri, From the ,Ashes of Disgrace, (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1948), p. 95. 2Ibid., p. 101. 3Christopher Buckley, Road to Rome, (London: Hodder and Spoughton, 1945), p. 34. 4Ibid., p. 38. 5Ibid., p. 159. 6Ibid., p. 53. 7Detwiler, op. cit., p. C-032-l. 8Ibid., p. C-032-8. 9Clough, op. cit., p. 235. BIBLIOGRAPHY Albrecht-Carrie, Rene. Italy from Napoleon to Mussolini. New York: Columbia University Press, 1950. Baldini, Alberto. Diaz. London: Humphrey Toulmin, 1935. The story of Armando Diaz, the General who finally broke through the German-Austrian line along Italy's Northeastern frontier. Barzini, Luigi. The Italians. New York: Bantam Books, 1964. A study of Italians by an Italian. Barzini provides great insight into the culture and minds of his people. Borghese, Valerio. Sea Devils. Chicago: Henry Regnery and Company, 1954. Deals with the extensive operations of this Italian special warfare group of World War II. Borghese, its commander, details the use of manned torpedoes, frogmen and attack boats. Buckley, Christopher. Road to Rome. London: Hodder and Spoughton, 1945. Buckley was a war correspondent who accompanied the British Eight Army into Sicily and finally into Rome. His account is a well-written documentary of the Italian capitulation. Cervi, Mario. The Hollow Legions. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1971. The story of Italy's unsuccessful attack on Greece in 1941. Critical analysis of this major Fascist blunder. Translated from the Italian by Eric Mossbacher. Cevi, Lucio. La Condotta Italiana della Guerra. Milano: Feltrinelli, no date. A study of Italy's General Staff system of World War II. Based on the writings of Chief of the General Staff, General Cavallero. Demonstrates the disorganization of both the military and political systems of Italy. In the original Italian. Clough, Shepard B. and Saladino, Salvatore. A History of Modern Italy - Documents, Readings and Commentary. New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1968. History of Italy from the early 1800s to the 1960s. Included are numerous translated official documents which the author analyzes. A very comprehensive work. Deakin, F. W. The Brutal Friendship. New York: Harper and Row, 1962. In depth study of the relationship between Hitler and Mussolini. Discusses their strategies, politics and analyzes their fall from power. Detwiler, Donald S. World War II German Military Studies. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1979. A series of translated, post-war analyses as given by high-ranking German officers to U.S. Army officials. This excellent publication makes extensive reference to Italy's contributions as a German ally. It also discusses Italy's political and social problems in supporting the war effort. Herington, John. Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943. Sydney: Halstead Press, 1962. A clinical study of the British and Australian Air Forces in the European and African theaters of World War II. Discusses action against Italian ground and air forces. Joes, Anthony James. Mussolini. New York: Franklin Watts, 1982. One of many bibliographies of Mussolini. It is fairly well balanced, although in parts is somewhat apologetic. Keegan, John. The Face of Battle. New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Excellent commentary on human experience on the battlefield. Discusses the effects of combat on the soldier. Kogan, Norman. Italy and the Allies. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1956. Laquer, Walter. Guerrilla. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1976. Discusses guerrilla activity throughout the world. Includes an applicable section on Italian partisan activities from 1943 to 1945. Maugeri, Franco. From the Ashes of Disgrace. New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1948. Admiral Maugeri was director of Italian Naval Intelligence during World War II. His well-written account of the turmoil inside Italian government during the war as well as the post-war reconstruction are important to the student of modern Italian history. Morgan, Thomas B. Spurs on the Boot. New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1941. Observations of an American journalist in Italy during the rise to power of Mussolini from 1922 to the beginning of World War II. Phillips, N. C. Italy - Official History of New Zeland in the Second World War 1939-45. Wellington: War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1957. A history of World War II in Africa and Europe from the perspective of a New Zelander. Based on the official war records of combat units which participated with the Allies in those theaters. Rommel, Erwin. Attacks. Vienna, Virginia: Athena Press, 1968. The outstanding personal account of Rommel as a First Lieutenant in World War I. Of particular interest is his commentary on combat with the Italians during the famous Isonzo campaign. Upton, Emory. Armies of Asia and Europe. New York: Greenwood Press. 1968. Authored by the former Commandant of West Point who, in 1875, made a world tour to study the organizations, schools and tactics of some of the significant armies of the period. Villari, Luigi. Italian Foreign Policy Under Mussolini. New York: The Devin-Adair Co., 1956. Discusses Italian expansionism during Mussolini's control of the State. The author details Italian economic support to its colonies in Africa and explains its occupation of Albania and assault on Greece. It is distinctly slanted to support the Italian position. Woodward, David. Armies of the World, 1854-1914. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1978. The author has compiled beautiful photos and interesting data on the training, conscription and employment of troops in the armies of the major powers of 1854-1914.
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