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55th Infantry Division Savona
Country Flag of Italy.svg Italy
Branch Flag of Italy (1860) Italian Army
Service history
Active 1939 – 1943
Size Division
Nickname Savona
Battles World War II
Commanders
Commanders Generale di Divisione Fedele di Giorgis
Insignia

The 55th Truck-Moveable Division Savona was a North African type Infantry Division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Savona Division was sent to Libya in September 1939. Its men hailed from Naples, Salerno and their surroundings. The division was not involved in the Italian invasion of Egypt as it was deployed facing French Tunisia. According to Inside the Afrika Korps: The Crusader Battles, 1941-1942 (Rainer Kriebel & Bruce Gudmundsson), the Savona Division took charge of the fortified towns of Sollum/Bardia/Halfaya at the beginning of September 1941. During November 22 and 23 in the initial fighting of Operation Crusader, the frontier garrisons of Omar Nuovo and Libyan Omar fell to determined infantry attacks of the 7th Indian Infantry Brigade, supported by British tanks from the 42nd and 44th Royal Tank Regiments, and the New Zealanders captured Fort Capuzzo and cut off the Bardia garrison’s water supply. Both sides fought well. According to The Bologna Division: 19 November – 10 December 1941, a British war correspondent is reported to have written:

"It was a most gallant affair, carried out with compete disregard to casualties. The Italians did not give in until our troops were amongst them with bayonets. A minimum of 1,500 prisoners were taken, some of whom were Germans, but the majority of whom belonged to the Italian Savona Division."

On December 4, as the Afrika Korps prepared to retreat to the Gazala Line, the Savona was given instructions to cover the Axis withdrawal as much as possible by containing Commonwealth forces in the Sollum/Bardia/Halfaya area.

The Savona Division did not surrender until 17 January 17, 1942 and wasn't reformed.[1] Of the divisional commander, Rommel is reported to have concluded, "Superb leadership was shown by the Italian General de Giorgis, who commanded this German-Italian force in its two months’ struggle." [2]

CommanderEdit

Generale di Divisione Fedele di Giorgis[nb 1]

Order of battleEdit

  • 15. Savona Infantry Regiment
  • 16. Savona Infantry Regiment
  • 12. Sila Artillery Regiment
  • 4. Genova Cavalleria Armored Car Battalion
  • 55. Engineer Battalion [nb 2]

NotesEdit

Footnotes
  1. Author Walther-Peer Fellgiebel lists Fedele di Giorgis as a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 9 January 1942 as Lieutenant General and commander of the Italian Division "Savona".[3] According to Scherzer his name is spelled Fedele Degiorgis.[4]
  2. An Italian North African Infantry Division of the 1940 structure normally consisted of two Infantry Regiments (three Battalions, one mortar, one 65mm gun company each), an Artillery Regiment with one heavy and two light battalions and an anti-aircraft battery, a light tank Battalion with 46 tankettes, an Anti Tank Company, a reserve and a machine-gun battalion. Each Division had 10,978 men if at full strength. In 1942 the North African divisions were reorganised on wa much smaller scale.[5]

ReferencesEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-98505-9. 
  • Jowett, Phillip. The Italian Army 1040-45 (3): Italy 1943-45. Osprey Publishing, Westminster. ISBN 978-1-85532-866-2. 

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