132 Armoured Division Ariete

Shoulder Insignia of Ariete

Shoulder Insignia of Ariete

This article is about an Italian army in the Desert War of North African Campaign of World War II.

The 132nd Armored Division “Ariete” was a Great Unity of the Royal Army and of the Italian Army in World War II. “Ariete” Armored Division was the first made for the Royal Army on 1 February, 1939 from the ashes of the 2nd Armoured Brigade.

During the Second World War, it was stationed in North Africa, where it worked alongside the armored units of the Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK) and motorized division of Trieste until its destruction in the Second Battle of El Alamein, earning several times the quote was in Italians and Germans in those bulletins. The remains of the division operated in Grouping Cantaluppi, until it was absorbed by the Centaur Division.

The Ariete was reconstituted in 1943 under the name “Aries II”, coating – in the days following the proclamation of the armistice – a significant role during the defense of Rome from the Germans, and again after the war, in 1948, with the control Pordenone, placed with its branches in Friuli-Venezia Giulia in charge of the eastern border against a hypothetical invasion by troops of the Warsaw Pact.

It was disbanded in 1986, today the traditions of the first Aries are maintained by the 132nd Armored Brigade “Ariete”.

Until the outbreak of World War II, the unit was in the area of Brescia, at the outbreak of war it moved to Fossano in Piedmont, framed in the Sixth Army, remaining in reserve for the duration of the campaign against France. It moved to Savona, under the command of the Fourth Army gradually replaced with wagons wagons L M 13/40.

tanks of the Italian Royal Army guard in the African desert

tanks of the Italian Royal Army guard in the African desert

In early January 1941, it was transferred to Naples, with the final destination Libya. In fact, in those days it was doing the Operation Compass, which led to the destruction of the Tenth Army. On January 24, it began to land in Tripoli, employing throughout February to reach full strength, and bearings in the new operating environment. On March 7, it began to work in Tripoli in the employ of CAM (Corps Motocorazzato) Italian, held in reserve during the reconquest of Cyrenaica by the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps). It claimed the first fight with the enemy on April 7 near El mechil against the Indian 3rd Motorized Brigade and the English 2nd Armored Division, taking nearly 2,000 prisoners. Later It worked in the battle of Tobruk, and in the direction of Bardia, reaching Halfaya Pass (with a mobile column). In August, it retired in the Ayn el-Ghazal to regroup.

In September, the staff of the division was placed 132nd Tank Corps Regiment, formed the control of the dissolved 4th Tank Corps Regiment (which had lost all his battalions to Bede Fomm and VII, VIII and IX Tank Battalion M)). The 32nd Division remained in the organic battalions of tanks with L (I, II and III Tank Battalion L) with a limited, until he was repatriated (in January 1942).

In November, the British threw the offensive Crusader, which involved a circumvention of the Italian German positions from the south, via Bir el Gobi, the district in which it sided with the right Aries. The unit had to overcome the positions of Ram was the 7th Armoured Division, the division that is a veteran of the war in the desert (the Desert Rats). The day on November 19, British 156 Crusader tanks attacked a hundred of Aries, who had almost completely open the left wing.  Initially, the 22nd Armoured Brigade (the unit that directly faced the Aries) was able to overcome the left wing of sharpshooters deployed in defense, but as soon as the tanks intervened, the British were repulsed on the right wing, and sharpshooters were destroyed by on the line. After two days of fierce fighting the British striker mass was rejected (with about 40 wagons immobilized), albeit at the cost of heavy losses in tanks and sharpshooters of Aries. The wagons were destroyed, 34 Italians, mostly of the VII VIII Battalion Tank Corps, which recorded a total of dead or wounded on 40% of vehicles.

Moved to the area Sollum suffered further losses in the fighting at Bir Crimson (November 23) against the 1st South African Division and Sidi Rezegh (November 30), so that the December 8 remained the only ninth Battalion Tank Corps and a few riflemen. At that time it was ordered to fall back on El Agheila with the rest of the weapon Italo-German. The day on December 13, at 204 fee (near Ain el Gazala), was blocked by a movable force British withdrawal and was able to resume until the following day, covered by an attack by Stukas. When, after another minor clashes, the division reached Agedabia (on December 26) had only six wagons, 11 pieces 75/27, 105/28 2 pieces of no more than a battalion of riflemen. The last action of the operating cycle occurred in early January, when it worked with Trieste.

On 21 January, organic to incomplete (in fact the division was never able to reach its staffing plan) took part in the counteroffensive that would have brought the Italian-German lines to the line of Ain el-Gazala. One of the biggest problems in the course of this action was given by the number of British prisoners, who will have to wait 3 weeks before it reaches the Commons, and therefore share the life of Italian soldiers throughout this period.

In May, the CAM took the name of the XX Corps and the May 26 Aries began the march south to Bir Hakeim and the Battle of Ghazala. In the battle the division suffered heavy losses both in personnel and in tanks (about 30 mines and cannons destroyed by controcarri French), but led the final investment of Tobruk (on June 21) on the side of Trieste. During the battle the Ram had operated continuously at the side of the DAK, demonstrated on several occasions not to be less similar to the German units, provided material (tanks and transport vehicles) significantly higher than the Italian one.

Rifornitasi vehicles and fuel from the stores captured at Tobruk Aries overcame Sidi Barrani, where it was greeted triumphantly by Italian prisoners of the local concentration camp and headed to El Alamein. In the course of the chase 8th Army General died Baldassarre (the commander of the XX Corps) and General De Stefanis was called to replace, the command of Ram was taken by the Interim General Arena, who shortly after was replaced by General Infante. Arrived at El Alamein on July 3 with thirty wagons and about 600 riflemen, the Aries, attacked the defensive posture UK, without waiting for the Trieste to covering the right flank, but counter-attacked from both sides of the 2nd Infantry Division of New Zealand and two brigades of the British 7th Armored Division, was forced to fall back on the lines of Pavia. It was withdrawn from the front on July 6, after selling all the remaining cars to Trieste, to get back into the forefront of the day July 14 , with a handful of wagons arrived from Tripoli in the meantime.

The lack of resources (the 132nd Tank Corps Regiment remained until the end of August with only ninth and tenth Tank Battalion M) prevented the division to play a significant role in the Battle of Alam Halfa.

The Division deals with the Aries Panzer division 21st position in the far south of the Italian-German camp, always seen in the XX Corps. The 132nd Regiment Tank Corps during the thirteenth of September received Tank Battalion M (VIII also had been dissolved). At the beginning of the battle Aries had only a hundred wagons (mostly M 14/41) and 16 self-propelled 75/18, the battalions of riflemen had the staff of a company.  The second battle of El Alamein began on October 23, the Ram was initially held in reserve, to protect the rear of Brescia and the Lightning. On Oct 26, it was moved north in the Deyr el-Murra, which assumed the fighter formation, pointed south of Tel el-Aqqir, while the Littorio and the 15th Panzer division converged from the north, but the violent reaction to the British forced the Axis divisions to retreat.  On November 2, the last failed attempt to counter the Italian German armored forces.  At dawn on November 3 the Aries, returned to the north, prepared to close the opening in the Italian-German line, on November 4 at 8 am, British armored forces (all the 7th Armored Division and the 10th Armored Division rates) began to attack in the afternoon the position of ‘Aries was circumvented, the divisional headquarters at 15.30 gave this message to higher command:

In this combat battalions were wiped out all the wagons, except the thirteenth, the regiment of riflemen and self-propelled batteries.  On November 6, at Fuka, 13th Battalion Tank Corps also M, the only “survivor” to the clashes of the previous days (not lined up more than a dozen wagons) was committed by overwhelming enemy forces and destroyed.

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