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Flag of the Italian Army, 1860 model.
The Regio Esercito (English: Royal Army) was the army of the Kingdom of Italy from the unification of Italy in 1861 to the birth of the Italian Republicmarker in 1946. After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army (Esercito Italiano).



The Regio Esercito dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy following the unification of Italy (Risorgimento) in 1861 after the Papal Statesmarker were seized. The creation decree by which the new army replaced the previous Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia (Armata Sarda) was signed by Manfredo Fanti on 4 May 1861.

The first task of the new organization were the repression of brigandage in southern Italy (against irregular/guerrilla forces, mixed with bands of true criminals, which did not accept the suppression of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies) and the Third War of Italian Independence. On 20 September 1870, the IV Corps captured Rome, which had remained under Papal States till then.

On 8 February 1885 a corps of less than 1,000 soldiers landed at Massauamarker, in Eritreamarker, starting the creation of an Italian colonial empire. The Italian advance was halted by the abysmal defeat at the Battle of Adwamarker against the Ethiopian forces. The following year, as part of the Italian collaboration with the international pacification program after the revolt against the Turkish dominatio in Cyprusmarker, another corps disembarked at Candia. On 14 July 1900 another expedition force was constituted to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in Chinamarker in defence of the European protectorates.

On 29 September 1911 began the Italian invasion of Libya. The first Italian troops arrived in Tripolimarker on 11 September. The war against the Ottoman Empire ended with the Italian capture of Dodecanesus in 1912 and the capture of Fezzanmarker in 1914.

World War I

The army's first real taste of modern warfare was in World War I. The war was fought mostly in northern Italy, and during it Italians suffered millions of casualties including over 700,000 dead.

Interwar Period

During the Interwar period, the army participated in the final subjucation of Libya, participated in the invasion of Ethiopia, provided troops and materials for the Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie) to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and participated in the Italian invasion of Albania.

World War II

The Royal Army was one of the largest ground forces in World War II during which it was one of the pioneers of the use of paratroopers. Many Italian divisions were reinforced by a MVSN Gruppo di Assalto of two battalions due to the small size of the divisions.

In 1943 Italy surrendered and split into the Salò Republic, which fielded its own army, and the Italian Co-Belligerent Army (Esercito Cobelligerante del Sud) the army of the Italian royalist forces fighting on the side of the Allies in southern Italy after the Allied armistice with Italy in September 1943. The Italians soldiers fighting in this army no longer fought for Benito Mussolini as their allegiance was to King Victor Emmanuel and to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) Pietro Badoglio, the men had been called to replace Mussolini.

The kingdom was replaced by a Republicmarker in 1946 and the Royal Army changed its name to become the Esercito Italiano.

Main campaigns

19th century

20th century

See also

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