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RSI Bersaglieri Units - Post September, 1943

After the September of 1943 surrender of the Italian Government to the Allies, the Germans quickly moved to occupy as much Italian territory as they could.  The then existing Italian military was thrown into confusion, with some units surrendering to the allies, some being interned by the Germans, some openly fighting the Germans at various locations and other units moving to the German side, volunteering to fight for them.  The net result was the political division of Italy and the start of a bloody internal civil war.  Portions of the old regime began fighting for the Germans  represented by a Fascist shadow government, while in the occupied north there developed a very ugly underground partisan war between the Germans and the occupied Italians, many of whom joined Allied and Communist backed underground groups.  A large number of ex-Italian military were formed into a Co-belligerent Army and fought to good affect for the Allies.  


In 1943 the Germans carried out their famous rescue of Mussolini and formed the Republic Socialist Italia (RSI) as the new Fascist government in Northern Italy.  They attempted to create a new RSI Army by forming four Italian RSI Divisions, all trained in Germany.  Various smaller units of troops loyal to the Fascists were also raised during the 1943-44 time period.   Most were small units of Battalion or so in size, fighting under Italian officers in the field, but under German tactical control.  These units were raised from a mix of ex-fascist volunteers and Italians troops repatriated from German prison camps.  All received German training and wore Italian uniforms & insignia.  At first they were equipped with Italian weapons, but as the war progressed they were more and more re-equipped with German small arms.  The number of Italian troops still fighting with the Germans in Italy directly against the Allies during the last year of the war numbered perhaps 40,000 to 50,000 men in reliable units.  Some of these units had colorful and respectable combat records, but they were in the end only a very small part of the Axis efforts in post 1943 Italy.


The CHG Italian Unit portrays several RSI units at our tactical events.  The CHG post 1943 Italian Front events are typically Anzio, Monte Cassino, or 1944-45 Po Valley scenarios, with very few Italian units having been historically engaged in combat during these campaigns.  The units portrayed have been chosen to historically fit in with the  scenarios.



1st Bersaglieri Volunteer Regiment, 2nd Battalion Mameli: The Reggimento Bersaglieri Volontari (1st Bersaglieri Volunteer Regiment) was one of the first independent armed formations of the post 1943 Fascist "Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano" (National Republican Army-ENR), the primary armed force of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI). The Regiment’s 2nd Battalion “Mameli” fought against the Allies along the southern front Gothic Line in the Apennine Mountains from September of 1944 to April of 1945.


The Bersaglieres of the II° Battaglione Bersaglieres Goffredo Mameli were constituted in Verona on 20 February 1944, from officers and NCO’s of the I° Battaglione B. Mussolini, combined with new recruits.  The unit was sent to the training grounds at Forlė for training by German instructors in the use of German small arms, squad tactics and organization.  Troops were trained in the use of German squad MG’s, grenades, panzerfaust and light AT weapons, but retained their Italian light arms (MAB 38 SMGs, Carcano Carbines, Beretta Pistols).  The Battalion numbered 600 and was trained primarily to be used as an assault unit (Speciale Reparto d’Assalto).


Over the summer of 1944 the Mameli was engaged in anti-partisan operations along the Adriatic Front. The unit then received orders to move to the south, along the Gothic Line in September. The Battalion was attached to the German 715th Division. It was given the key defensive position of Hill 302 (Monte Borgallo), between Marradi and Faneza which it held against a number of allied attacks during September and October. The unit remained on the front for the next few months, carrying out further attacks at Senio, Santerno, Monte Cucco, Monte Belvedere, Monte Battaglia and at Tossignano. During early 1945 along the Tirrenico Front around Lunigiana, the Mameli’s 3rd Company was in direct combat against the famous U.S. 442nd Nisei Regimental Combat Team. In early March of 1945 the surviving troops of the Battalion Mameli were sent to the Garfagnana Front in the Apennine Mountains and integrated in to the RSI Italia Division and fought in all of that formations final combats to the War's end.


RSI Italia Division: This formation was composed of two Bersaglieri regiments, an associated artillery regiment and various support units numbering some 11,600 men. During 1945 this division had the task of defending the mountain approaches through Cisa and Taro into the Po Valley during late 1944.  The Division fought along the Serchio River from February to April of 1945, engaging U.S. and Brazilian units and slowing their advance, preventing the Soliera Gorge and the village of Aulla from being taken. The unit surrendered in late April of 1945 to Brazilian troops, along with all of the Axis forces in Italy.

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The CHG, founded in 1979 and incorporated in 1992, is a non-profit organization that is recognized by the Department of Defense as a World War II educational and reenactment organization. The CHG's 5th Bersaglieri Unit is a non-political group whose sole purpose is to preserve World War II history through uniform, equipment and vehicle restorations, static displays, and historical reenactments. We do NOT support or CONDONE any activities involving Neo-Nazis, extremist, or anti-American organizations. We are not involved, nor do we have any involvement with any anti-government activities.

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