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Italian soldiers in North Africa

Italian soldiers in North Africa

The generally accepted image of the Italian soldier in World War II: lazy, cowardly, inexperienced and unstable. During the war, newspapers appeared in which the victories over the Italians in North Africa were described with enthusiasm and on a grand scale.

These ridicule is not fair. No one has ever analyzed or thought about the difficulties that the ordinary Italian soldier faced during the war. The armament of the Italians was much lower than modern requirements at that time. The fully equipped British troops outnumbered the Italians many times over.

The Italian artillery fired at less than 8 km, while the range of the British artillery ranged from 8 to 25 km. Italian radios did not at all correspond to the conditions of maneuver warfare. Food rations were not suitable for desert conditions, and there were no field kitchens. The Italian tanks were light, poorly armed and unreliable from a technical point of view.

Instead of heavy tanks, Italy produced small tankettes. The Italian industry consisted predominantly of small companies with few manufacturing resources. At the same time, Italy has traditionally been a country with strong maritime traditions. Thus, Italy could produce good warships, but the armored industry here never reached a high level. Mussolini was more interested in a military show.

Italian leaders suffered from delusions of grandeur. An easy victory in Ethiopia further worsened the situation. The Italians counted on short colonial wars, but were not ready for the full mobilization of the economy.

In the Italian military hierarchy, there was a sharp line between masters giving orders and mere mortal soldiers. The officers, who were mostly aristocrats, enjoyed every comfort, good food, and mobile brothels. Ordinary soldiers ate anything and very often starved.

In mid-1942, the Italians had already ceased to believe in their government, and no one wanted to die for Mussolini's mystical idea of ​​restoring the Roman Empire. By 1943, most Italian soldiers militarily found themselves naked and barefoot. Therefore, it is not surprising that the morale of the Italians was low, and very often they did not want to fight at all.

On the other hand, the Italian soldier showed himself from the best side, if the command showed at least minimal care for him. For example, Rommel, who spoke Italian poorly but still tried to do so, often joined Italian soldiers during breakfast or lunch. He sat on the ground with them, joked and ate without problems on a par with the Italian ordinary soldiers. As a result, Rommel enjoyed great respect among the Italian soldiers.

During the campaign in North Africa, Italian troops repeatedly demonstrated courage, but they often lacked the calmness and composure so necessary in critical situations.

Italian soldiers during the Second World War



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