The Italian 60th "Sabratha" Infantry Division was an Italian division during World War II.
"Sabratha" was mobilized in October 1939 for service in Libya. On 13 September 1940, the division took part in the invasion of Egypt. In December, during Operation Compass, the division was destroyed near Derna.
"Sabratha" was reformed early 1941 and was again sent to Libya. The reformed division met with mixed fortune during the balance of the Western Desert Campaign. The Sabratha took part in the Battle of Gazala and played an important role in the capture of 6,000 prisoners at Gazala on 16 June 1942 after the Trieste and 15th Panzer Division had defeated the British 2nd and 4th Armoured Brigades. During the protracted fighting in the First Battle of Alamein 835 Italian troops that were largely part of an infantry battalion and artillery group of the division were taken prisoner by the Australian 2/48th Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Hammer on 10 July 1942 at Tel el Eisa. The Italians reacted vigorously and a battalion of the Trento with the assistance of Bersaglieri troops were ordered to retake the position. While the Italian counterattack failed to achieve its objective, it bought time to allow the Italian XXI Motorised Corps to rush in a battalion of the "Trieste" Division and L3 and M13/40 tanks of the 3rd "Novara" Armoured Group and Major Gabriele Verri's 11th Armoured Battalion to affected sector and contain the Australian advance.
In the meantime the "Sabratha" Division had recovered from the initial blow and Colonel Angelozzi's 1st Battalion 85th Infantry Regiment of the "Sabratha" Division, launched a fierce counterattack on the forces on Tel el Eisa on 14 July supported by Italian tanks and succeeded in piercing the defences, between the feature and the main Tel el Eisa Ridge. Under fierce pressure the Australian troops were forced to withdraw from their forward positions, but their main defences remained largely intact.
Units[edit | edit source]
- 60 Infantry Division Sabratha
- 85th Infantry Regiment
- 86th Infantry Regiment
- 42nd Artillery Regiment (later 3rd Articelere Artillery Regiment)
- The Rise of the Wehrmacht: The German Armed Forces and World War, 2 Volumes, p.564, Samuel W. Mitcham, Praeger (June 30, 2008)
- War in the Desert, Neil D. Orpen, p. 367, Purnell, 1971
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