Mussolini was not against the war with the Soviet Union — "The Crusade" was his favorite idea. But Mussolini believed that Italy is ready for such war no earlier years 1945-1950., When they had to end up re-applets forces grow their fighting ability. Beat Germany, with the participation of Hungary, Romania, Finland, when Rome was not even warned not to speak about the proposal to take part in the war, dealt a blow to the status of Mussolini's Italy. In addition, the Italian leader wanted to get their share in the division of "bear skin", but without the participation of the Italian troops in the war, it was not clear.
Hitler did not count on considerable assistance of the Italian troops, knowing their value — the Wehrmacht already had to bail out the Italian army from a difficult situation. And therefore proposed to concentrate all the attention of Rome in the Mediterranean region and North Africa.
But Mussolini insisted: "Italy can not be out on the new front and must be intensively involved in the recent war — he said to his ministers. Fascinating fact that Mussolini, like many other Western politicians, believed that Germany will overcome rapidly during the "lightning war" and feared that the Italian side does not even have time enough to do some fighting. Consent to send Italian units on the Eastern Front in Berlin gave only 10 July 1941. For the war with the Soviet Union was created a special unit, "Expedition Italian Corps in Russia "(in Italian. Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia, CSIR). It consisted of the third division: 52th Infantry avtotransportiruemaya division "Torino", 9th Infantry avtotransportiruemaya division "Pasubio" and the third mobile division "name Prince Amedeo, Baron d'Aosta" (sometimes referred to as the division "Chelero"). The word "avtotransportiruemaya" meant that instead of the special military vehicles in the division used various civilian cars. Avtotransportiruemye division consisted of 2 infantry regiments and the 1st Motorized Artillery Regiment, plus support units. The structure of the third mobile division were: 2 cavalry regiment (3rd cavalry regiment of dragoons "Savoy", 5 th Lancers cavalry regiment, "Navarre"), 1-n Artillery Regiment, 1st Regiment n bersalerov (Translated from Italian. Bersaglieri — elite arrows They were equipped with the great and tall tales), tank group "San Giorgio" — in service of an errant tankettes L3/35, Fiat L6/40 light tanks and self-propelled anti-tank guns Semovente 47/32. The chassis also included the 63rd Legion "Tagliamento" from the so-called. "Voluntary police state security" (also called the "Blackshirts"). Only in the case was 62 thousand (three thousand officers and 59 th Fighter), 5.5 thousand ton motor. Corps commander, General Giovanni Messe, who replaced the sick of General Francesco Zingales.
The commander of the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia, General Giovanni Messe (second from right) checks the transport part of the division, "Torino".
The case came to the front in July-August 1941: at first it was transferred to the command of the 11th German Army von Schobert, in the middle of August, included the 1st Panzer Group (later the army) von Kleist, he was subject to Italian corps began in June 1942, then handed over to the Italian part of the 17th Army Gen. R. Ruoff. Waged war housing in the south of — in Ukraine.
In the war of the case came in August 1941 — as part of the 11th Army tried to prevent the allotment of Russian troops, who were between the rivers Dniester and Southern Bug. As part of Panzer Group crossbill Italians participated in the capture of the town Stalino (now Donetsk) and occupation Surrounding cities Gorlivka and Ordzhonikidze (now Yenakievo). Some units of the Corps participated in the occupation of the area around Odessa. Initially, the Italians had the highest morale — Wehrmacht won a victory after victory, they were "winners" in the "easy campaign." But soon — for the winter, began the decline of morale began to be felt shortage of uniforms, artillery, and other weapons. Supply has gone through the Wehrmacht, who himself was not ready for a long-term war because Italian housing supplied as a residual. In the end, the Italians began to pillage, looting and even the German warehouses. In relation to the local population, the Italians were more "tolerant" were not mentioned in the atrocities of the Germans, Hungarians, Romanians. So, General Messe, even made their qualification for the brutality and ruthlessness had a follow-gradation to the local population, "1st place — the Russian White Guards, 2 nd place — the Germans, third place — Romanians, 4th place — the Finns, 5 place — the Hungarians, 6th place — the Italians. "
Italian soldiers with the parishioners and the priest on the steps of the church. Pavlograd, autumn-winter 1941.
Italian soldiers of something purchased from local residents on the Ukrainian railway station. Winter 1941-1942 year.
But Mussolini himself got into the war, and because Hitler claimed to increment the Italian forces on the Eastern Front, was obliged to send additional forces, bringing the Italian forces to the field army — was created by the 8th Italian Army ("Italian Army in Russia" — Italy. Armata Italiana in Russia, ARMIR). Russia just sent 7 more divisions, bringing the Italian forces to 10 divisions, not including ancillary units. They were: 2nd Infantry Division "Sforzesco", 3rd Infantry Division, "Ravenna", 5th Infantry Division "Cosseria" 156th Infantry Division "Vicenza" (2nd Corps) and the elite Alpine Corps in the 3-alpine divisions — 2nd "Tridentina" third "Julia" and the 4th "Kuneenze." The army also went 3-ri Brigade "Blackshirts", 1-on Croatian volunteer brigade and 2-ve German divisions (298th and 62th). In total, the Army had 235 thousand people in its arsenal were about one thousand guns, more than 400 mortars, 17 thousand ton, petty amount of light tanks and self-propelled guns (about 50 units) and 64 aircraft. He commanded the army, General Italo Gariboldi, Mass. opposed the growth of the Italian forces on the Eastern Front and was removed from office.
Italians without glory completed their "Eastern Campaign": during the Battle of Stalingrad in the autumn of 1942, 8th Italian army occupied the position on the Don River (area 250 km) north-west of the city of Staling
rad. In December 1942 — January 1943, the Italian army was virtually destroyed in the process of coming of the Red Army — more than 20 thousand were killed, 64 million were taken prisoner, those who were able to pull back a hundred percent demoralized. The survivors were started in Ukraine, then the German command sent out a huge part in Italy. After the coup in Italy, Mussolini was arrested — a few thousand Italians who remained in Russia for the protection of the rear communications, were disarmed, then shot by the Germans. Glory Italians in the war could not be found — showing himself a rather weak fighters are not ready for the real war.
F. Jowett Italian army. 1939 — 1943. European theater of war. Moscow, 2002.
J. Messe. War on the Russian front, Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia. Moscow, 2009.
Safronov EG Italian troops on the Soviet-German front. 1941-1943. Moscow, 1990.