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101st Motorised Division Trieste
Active 1939–1943
Country Italy Regno d'Italia
Kingdom of Italy
Branch Flag of Italy (1860).svgRegio Esercito
Royal Italian Army
Type Infantry
Role Motorised
Size Division
Part of Italian XX Motorised Corps
Nickname(s) Trieste
Engagements World War II
Operation Crusader
Battle of Gazala
Battle of Bir Hakeim
First Battle of El Alamein
Second Battle of El Alamein
File:101 Motorised Division Trieste collar insignia.jpg
Trieste Division collar insignia

101st Motorised Division Trieste or 101° Divisione Trieste (Italian) was a Motorised Division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Trieste was formed in 1939 and served in Albania and North Africa where it surrendered to the Allies in 1943.

History[edit | edit source]

Formed in 1939, from the 8 Infantry Division Po[1] the 101st Motorised Division Trieste was mobilized for war in 1940. It was initially held as a reserve formation in Italy, until 1941 when it was sent to Albania.

North Africa[edit | edit source]

The Trieste was sent to Libya in North Africa in August 1941, as part of the Italian XX Motorised Corps under General Gastone Gambara with the 132 Armoured Division Ariete. The division participated in all the major Western Desert battles from then on; Operation Crusader, the January 1941 Axis counteroffensive, the Battle of Gazala in 1942, the Battle of Bir Hakeim, the First Battle of El Alamein and the Second Battle of El Alamein where it was virtually destroyed. During Operation Crusader the Trieste took advantage of the British 4th Armoured Brigade's withdrawal from the Tobruk sector, and achieved a notable success on December 1 when its armoured columns moved forward and cut the tenuous link the 6th New Zealand Brigade had established with Tobruk on November 27.[2] On December 13, the 1st Buffs captured Point 204 on the Alam Hamza Ridge, but the Trieste Division successfully defended Point 208.[3] During the Battle of Gazala, the Trieste played an important part in the destruction of the British 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigades south of Knightsbridge on June 12.[4] During the First Battle of El Alamein, the Trieste on Ruweisat Ridge put up a tenacious defence and lost two regimental commanders before being partly overcome, delaying the Allied advance for several hours and allowing German armoured forces to launch a devastating counteratack.[5] The division fought against the British Eighth Army in Tunisia, first on the Mareth Line, then at Wadi Akari and eventually on the Enfidaville Line. The division formally surrendered to the Allies on 13 May 1943.[1]

Trieste starting position 23 October second battle of El Alamein

Commanders[edit | edit source]

Trieste 10pm 2 November almost surrounded

Order of battle[edit | edit source]

The divisional order of battle changed considerably throughout its history. The OOBs given here apply at the time of Operation Crusader during the El Alamein battles from July to September 1942.[6]

Operation Crusader[edit | edit source]

  • 65th Infantry Regiment
    • 2x infantry battalion
    • 1x Anti-aircraft/Antitank (AA/AT) battalion
    • Motorised transport column
  • 66th Infantry Regiment (as 65th)
  • 9th Bersaglieri Motorcycle Regiment
    • 3x Bersaglieri battalion
    • 1x Bersaglieri AA/AT battalion*
  • Medical Section
  • 508th AA/AT Battalion (undergoing re-establishment)
  • 21st Artillery Regiment
    • 4x artillery battalion
    • 1x AA battalion
  • 52nd mixed engineer battalion
  • 90th Medical Section (incomplete)
  • 176th Supply Section
  • 80th Motorised transport column

El Alamein[edit | edit source]

  • 65. Valtellina Infantry Regiment
  • 66. Valtellina Infantry Regiment
  • 8. Armoured Bersaglieri Battalion (Armoured Cars)
  • 21. Po Artillery Regiment (mot)
  • 11. Tank Battalion (Medium M13/40 Tanks)
  • 52. Mixed Engineer Battalion (mot)
  • 90. Medical Section
  • 80. Mixed Motorised Detachment
  • 176. Supply Section
  • 22. Carabinieri Section[1][nb 1]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. An Italian Infantry Division normally consisted of two Infantry Regiments (three Battalions each), an Artillery Regiment, a Mortar Battalion (two companies), an Anti Tank Company, a Blackshirt Legion (Regiment of two Battalions). Each Division had only about 7,000 men, The Infantry and Artillery Regiments contained 1,650 men, the Blackshirt Legion 1,200, each company 150 men.[7]
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wendel, Marcus. "Italian Army". Axis History. Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. http://www.webcitation.org/5gLwZZtt5. Retrieved 2009-07-04.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ax" defined multiple times with different content
  2. The Bologna Division: 19 November – 10 December, 1941 By David Aldea, Comando Supremo: Italy at War.
  3. Far from the short grass: Kildare men in the two World Wars, By James Durney, Page 153, James Durney, 1999
  4. Rommel's Lieutenants: The Men Who Served The Desert Fox, By Samuel W. Mitcham, Page 118, Praeger (November 30, 2006)
  5. Jim Heddlesten. "First Battle of El Alamein". Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. http://www.webcitation.org/5gOzILxDZ. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  6. Loi, p. 158 and p. 160
  7. Paoletti, p 170
  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9. 
  • Loi, Salvatore Aggredisci e Vincerai - Storia della Divisione Motorizzata "Trieste", Mursia, Milano

See also[edit | edit source]

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