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Arditi was the name adopted by Italian Army elite storm troops of World War I. The name derives from the Italian verb Ardire ("to dare") and translates as "The Daring".

Reparti d'assalto (Assault Units) were formed in the summer of 1917 by Colonel Bassi, and were assigned the tactical role of shock troops, breaching enemy defenses in order to prepare the way for a broad infantry advance. The Arditi were not infantry troops, but were considered a separate combat arm.

The Reparti d'assalto were successful in bringing in a degree of movement to what had previously been a war of entrenched positions. Their exploits on the battlefield were exemplary and they gained an illustrious place in Italian military history. They were demobilized by 1920.

The name Arditi was also used by the supporters (often war veterans) of Gabriele D'Annunzio, during his occupation of Fiumemarker in 1919-20. Their use of a uniform with black shirts and black fez was taken up by Benito Mussolini and his supporters. The word Arditi then became a synonym for fascist activists.

From 1 October 1975 the flag of X Arditi Regiment (formed in 1942 on emulation of the Department of Assault IX of the First World War) is taken into custody by the 9º Reggimento d'Assalto Paracadutisti Col Moschin (9th Parachute Assault Regiment Col Moschin).

The name is sometimes misapplied as a general term for Italian special units such as Bersaglieri.

First World War

Anticipating Experiments

The ardito can be remotely traced back to 1914 when every regiment of the Royal Army was ordered to create a group of explorers trained to act behind enemy lines. With the first Arditi units were born and trained in Manzano (Udine), in "Sdricca" where we still celebrate a commemoration and an evocation last Sunday in July.

Others want to recognize as precursors of the Arditi the so-called " death Companies ," special patrols infantry and engineers engaged in cutting or blasting enemy barb wire, they were easily recognizable for the use of armor and helmets mainly of the type "Farina."Circolare Comando Supremo: n. 496 di P.RS. del 16 giugno 1915. Oggetto: Attacco di posizioni rafforzate.

Circular Supreme Command: No. 496 of P.RS. 16 June 1915. Subject: Attack of positions strengthened. The use of the bomb in that role made entirely unnecessary sacrifices of the members of these units.

Their task was not to pave the way for the infantry to the enemy lines, but the total conquest of the latter. To do this, the soldiers were chosen from more daring, those who had no fear of death, and were trained under the blows of the artillery in this way become used to guns, with bursts of machine guns, also studied fencing to be agile in hand-to-hand combat. Once ready, were sent to the front of three armed firecrackers head (rarely had more) and Gladio (many of the bayonet was only an obstacle). Came so until the enemy to buttarcisi line literally inside and conquer blows of a dagger. They had the task of keeping 24h and then transfer it to the infantry which, more often than not (because of training is not appropriate for the type of war), lost the line and go back. Many Arditi died in each attack (only 25-30%). Even now when the Sassari Brigade (the most tough and tenacious) had now won to date, hundreds of Arditi were disembarked from one shore to the river. Most of them came to the shore. Their motto was "O la vittoria, o tutti accoppati". After the war it wanted to support the idea that dell'ardito was a creation of Captain Christopher Baseggio which in 1915 was placed under the command of a unit called "volunteers explorers Company, which operated in Valsugana. This fact was frequently and vehemently contested by the top of the more daring and the Memorial. The unit had 13 officers and 400 soldiers troop selected on a voluntary basis and from various departments of the 15th Division. This unit was completely destroyed in attacking the Monte Osvaldo in April 1916.

In 1916 the supreme command decided to reward with the status of military daring who had separate decision and courage, with the express prohibition of creating special unitsCircolare Comando Supremo n. 15810 del 15 luglio 1916. Oggetto: Norme per la concessione del distintivo per militari arditi.

Supreme Command Circular No 15,810 of 15 July 1916. Subject: Rules for the granting of distinctive bold military.. The distinctive, to take the left arm, was the monogram VE, and was designed exclusively as a reward and as an indication of soldiers to carry for example. This was the genesis of the word "Ardito."

Establishment and use

In 1917 as a result of proposals and studies by young officers and tired of the stagnation of unnecessary bloodshed of trench life, it came in the trial of a specially formed at the 48th Division of the VIII Army Corps, commanded by Captain Joseph Bass, author of a new note on the use of guns machine guns Fiat 15 / OVP - Officine Villar Perosa.Costituzione ed impiego delle sezioni pistole mitragliatrici, dal capitano Bassi (comandante III/150 Fanteria) al generale Giardino, comandante 48ª Divisione, 8 novembre 1916.

Constitution and use of sections pistols machine guns, from captain Bassi (III/150 Infantry commander) General Giardino, commander 48th Division, 8 November 1916. It should be pointed out that as early as March 1917 the Supreme Command had sent a circular information about the constitution at the army Austro-Hungarian special units.Circolare Comando Supremo n. 6230 del 14 marzo 1917, da CS (UAVS) a C. d'Armata e Zona Gorizia (fino a C. di Brigata). Oggetto: reparti d'assalto.

Supreme Command Circular No. 6230 14 March 1917, from CS (UAVS) to Army Corps Area and Gorizia (up to Brigade Corps). Subject: assault troops.

Following a positive evaluation it was decided to institutionalize the birth of the new specialtyCircolare Comando Supremo n. 111660 del 26 giugno 1917, da CS a C. di 1ª, 2ª, 3ª ,4ª, 6ª Armata. Oggetto: reparti d'assalto.

Supreme Command Circular No 111,660 26 June 1917, from CS to Command of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th Army. Subject: assault troops., but disagreements on equipment and the training were shifted to the beginning of July 29 1917, when the same King Vittorio Emanuele sanctioned the birth of wards assault.

New assault were born and then developed as a separate body with its own currency and a different training and higher than that of ordinary soldiers to be used in the airline or entire battalion. The German army, on average, much better trained, however, was the first to adopt the concept of elite troops with Stoss Truppen and then with the Sturmtruppen. The seat of the training school was set at Sdricca of Manzano (Udine) and the command entrusted to the same higher Netherlands. Following the school Sdricca (and other corps created) were also patented the bold regimental (nothing to do with the "military daring" of 1916), whose establishment was later formalized in 1918 with an appropriate move.Circolare Comando Supremo n. 17000 del 26 giugno 1918. Oggetto: Arditi Reggimentali.

Supreme Command Circular No. 17,000 26 June 1918. Subject: Reggimental Arditi.

The first units were created in the 2nd Army, and when Caporetto were made of 27 departments, although those actually used in combat were many less. The first six parts of the 2nd Army fought the battle of Udine and protessero withdrawn on the bridges of Vidor and Priula, the last remaining units to pass the Piave. In the winter of 1917 were disbanded, reconstituted and retraining reaching a 22 operational units, to become in May 1918 again 27 (plus a unit of travel for each army), assigned to the corps.

In June 1918 was A Division of assault with nine units under the command of Major General Ottavio Zoppi, then became Corps armed assault with twelve departments in two divisions. Al Corps armed assault were assigned to six battalions Bersaglieri and two battalions Bersaglieri cyclists, and tactical and logistical support adequate. The department collected from corps to form the divisions were reconstituted so that at the end of the war there were twelve departments assault (plus two running) placed in the Body of armed assault, twenty-five independent departments assigned to the armed.

The Arditi were among the architects of the breakthrough line of Piave that allowed in November 1918 the final victory on Austrian armies.

Shortly after the end of the war, in January 1920, all units were disbanded because of army reorganization and domestic policy to regional army.


The soldiers were enrolled preferably on a voluntary basis, but with progress in the number of departments began to be nominated by their commands among the most experienced soldiers and brave company line, possibly from among the military already decorated the value (as a proportion of a soldier every infantry company, and two companies for the Alpini and Bersaglieri). After a military official recognition of how Arditi tests of strength, skill and nerve, were trained in the use of weapons supplied to innovative tactics of attack, the body-to-hand fight with or without weapons, all supported by a continues preparation athletics.

In particular, lessons were given for the launch of the bombs by hand on the shot with the rifle, to use the flamethrower and machine gun. The training was very intensive and realistic, and several were killed during the Arditi exercises or basic training (particularly hit by bomb splinters of a hand grenade, because their operating procedure provided for a very short launch dell'ordigno, immediately following by a direct assault). The high training, team spirit and contempt of danger, but also the advantages they enjoyed, they Arditi of the body most feared by opponents armies, but also created a climate of distrust and jealousy on the part of officers belonging to other departments. The military troop, however, brought them in esteem and respect for the ability to resolve on the battlefield situations tactically impossible for the departments of line.


The uniform that Arditi adopted consisted of a coat from Bersagliere cyclist with black flames on the lapel from the infantry, for the green from Alpine, crimson from the Bersaglieri, then dark green sweater and black fez from Bersagliere Alpine and trousers. From these uniforms and other mostreggiature, indicative of the department of origin, was born sottodistinzione between the Red Flames (Bersaglieri Arditi), Flame Black (Arditi Infantry) and Verdi Flames (Arditi Alpini). The Red Flames were sometimes called Crimson Flames.

Many of their distinctive Arditi were later recovered from the first training fascist, typically the skull with a dagger between the teeth, but also by training the Arditi del Popolo (skull with red eyes and dagger) and several teams of defense against fascism, as the black shirt with skull in silver thread on the side used by communist Roman teams. The same greeting "To us!" Was later used by Arditi del Popolo (greeting a closed fist) and as such appears in some of their hymns.


Typical equipment of the Arditi was the dagger for hand-to-hand combat, and hand grenades. The grenades were used to create panic and confusion as well as for their disruptive effect. The Thevenot hand grenade frequently used by the Arditi was well suited for assaults, not being overly powerful, but very noisy so as to provoke fear in the opponents. Other weapons included machine guns and flame throwers. The Arditi also used 37mm and 65mm cannon against pillboxes and fortifications.

In the Museo del Risorgimento in Turinmarker, in the hall dedicated to resistance are kept a dagger and a hand grenade belonging to the Arditi del Popolo.

The Arditi and fascism

In the postwar Arditi gathered in 'National Association Arditi d'Italia (ANAI), founded by captain Mario Carli, then among the members of the so-called origins of fascism, the same who wrote with Marinetti Article Arditi are not gendarmes.

A large number of bold joined the fascist movement, even if the membership was not unanimous, as is clear from the Arditi del Popolo (fringe secessionist Roman dell'ANAI, politically deployed on the maximalist positions of socialism). In any case, most daring dell'ANAI contributed to the FNAI (National Federation Arditi D'Italia), based on 23 October 1922 by Mussolini (the ANAI was later dissolved).

The bold participated actively in all 'enterprise stream under the guidance of inspiration Hand of the coup that led to the River, Gabriele D'Annunzio. Once conquered the city, was established the "Republic of Carnaro" D'Annunzio and openly claiming the Italian city of Rijeka. It was promulgated, as the Constitutional Charter of the new state, the Charter of Carnaro, which contained proposals were strongly progressive, but, perhaps for the short duration of the flood, not found substantial application. Among the main guiding the content of the Charter there was the socialist trade unionist De Ambris. On 25 December 1920 (the so-called Christmas Blood) regular army troops led by Italian general Caviglia put end to the fleeting experience of the Republic of Carnaro after brief clashes. The President of the Council Giolitti had ordered the operation because it feared the possible adverse international implications could arise from below the flood, and that the consolidation of the state dannunziano could have serious consequences for the liberal Italian

The Arditi del Popolo

The Roman section of the Italian Arditi said life, in contrast to the strong but not yet consolidated movement of squadrismo fascist, the Arditi del Popolo, with connotations paramilitary group that was clearly anti-fascist strong membership between anarchists, communists, socialists. The Communists will constitute the majority wing, were also components such as Republican Vincenzo Baldazzi that was one of the leaders, and sometimes, as in defense of Parma, also militants of the Popular Party, as the adviser Corazza killed in Parma by the fascists in clashes. Were born in the summer of 1921 through the work of Argo Secondari, a former lieutenant of the "Flame Black" (bold coming from infantry) trend anarchist. The consistency some of these paramilitary formations were 20,000 men enrolled, among them war veterans, who were neutral or on positions clearly anti-fascist.

The event perhaps the most resonant was the defense of Parma by squadrismo fascist in 1922: around 10,000 squadristi fascists, the first under the command of Roberto Farinacci, then Italo Balbo, had to give up "conquer" the city after 5 days of clashes against a group consisting of socialists, anarchists and communists, controlled by the heads of the Arditi del Popolo (350 took part in the battle against the fascists) Antonio Cieri and Guido Picelli. Casualties amongst he dead were among the fascists 39, among those who resisted 5.

Following many heads of the Arditi del Popolo were jailed or killed by fascists squadristi, sometimes with the connivance of police agencies.


  1. Rules of years for the infantry, approved June 30 1914.
  2. S. Farina, Le Truppe d'Assalto Italiane (The Italian troops).
  3. Angelo Pirocchi and Velimir Vuksic, Italian Arditi. Elite Assault Troops 1917-1920. Oxford, Osprey, 2004.
  4. Summaries from Liparoto ANPI.

See also


  • Tom Behan, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, Bookmarks, 2003, ISBN 978-1898876908 ( account of the book in Socialist Worker review)

Italian language

  • Balsamini, Luigi, Gli Arditi del Popolo. Dalla guerra alla difesa del popolo contro le violenze fasciste, Casalvelino Scalo, Galzerano, 2002.
  • Cordova, Ferdinando, Arditi e legionari dannunziani, Padova, Marsilio, 1969.
  • Francescangeli, Eros, Arditi del Popolo. Argo Secondari e la prima organizzazione antifascista (1917-1922), Roma, Odradek, 2000.
  • Fuschini, Ivan, Gli Arditi del Popolo, prefazione di Arrigo Boldrini, Ravenna, Longo, 1994.
  • Rossi, Marco, Arditi, non gendarmi! Dall’arditismo di guerra agli arditi del popolo 1917-1922, Pisa, BFS, 1997.

External links

All links are in Iatalian

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