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The Alpini Brigades ! On one of these pics is a kind of necklace or something where sombody has collected buttons ( Czechian ones). I like to know the explanation? 46 buttons. Do you know?
1. He collected one button for a killed troop member?
2. One button for one killed enemy?
Also you can see two strange metal badges with double eagle and a helmet with a capricorn .
It ist the famous Skanderbeg Helmet.

The 2nd Alpine Division Tridentina was a World War II Mountain Infantry division of the Italian Army. The Alpini that formed the divisions are a highly decorated and elite mountain corps of the Italian Army comprising both infantry and artillery units. After World War II, the traditions and name of the 2nd Alpine Division Tridentina were carried on by the Alpine Brigade Tridentina, which was elevated to division command in 2003 and augmented to full division in 2013.

On 14 January 1943, after a short pause, the 6th Soviet Army attacked the Alpini divisions of the Italian Mountain Corps. These units had been placed on the left flank of the Italian army and, to date, were still relatively unaffected by the battle. However, the Alpini’s position had turned critical after the collapse of the Italian center, the collapse of the Italian right flank, and the simultaneous collapse of the Hungarian troops to the left of the Alpini. The Julia Division and Cuneense Division were destroyed. Members of the 1 Alpini Regiment, part of Cuneese Division, burned the regimental flags to keep them from being captured. Part of the Tridentina Division and other withdrawing troops managed to escape the encirclement.
On 26 January 1943, after heavy fighting which resulted in the Battle of Nikolajewka, the Alpini remnants breached the encirclement and reached new defensive positions set up to the west by the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer). But, by this time, the only operational fighting unit was the Tridentina Division and even it was not fully operational. The Tridentina Division had led the final breakout assault at Nikolajewka. Many of the troops who managed to escape were frostbitten, critically ill, and deeply demoralized:for practical purposes, the Italian Army in Russia did not exist anymore by February 1943.
"The Italian participation in operations in Russia proved extremely costly. Losses of the 8th Army from 20 August 1942-20 February 1943 totaled 87,795 killed and missing (3,168 officers and 84,627 NCOs and soldiers) and 34,474 wounded and frostbitten (1,527 officers and 32,947 NCOs and soldiers). In March–April 1943, the remnants of the Army returned to Italy for rest and reorganization. Upon the surrender of Italy in September 1943, the Army was disbanded."

 

The Alpine Divisions : my finds from the battlefields ..

The Italian 8th Army's Alpini Corps, consisting of Alpine Divisions
3rd Julia, 2nd Tridentina and 4th Cuneense and the 156th Vicenza Infantry Division to their rear, were at this point largely unaffected by the Soviet offensive on their right flank. But on January 13, 1943, the Soviets launched the second stage of Operation Saturn.

In this stage four armies of Soviet General Filipp Golikov's Voronezh Front attacked, encircled, and destroyed the Hungarian Second Army near Svoboda[disambiguation needed] on the Don to the northwest of the Italians, they attacked and pushed back the remaining units of the German 24th Army Corps on the Alpini left flank and then attacked the Alpini themselves. The Alpini held the front, but within three days the Soviets advanced 200 kilometers (120 mi) to the left and right of the Alpini, who were thus encircled.

Although the Alpini corps was ordered to hold the front at all costs, preparations for a general retreat began on January 15. On the evening of January 17, the commanding officer of the corps General Gabriele Nasci finally ordered the full retreat. At this point the Julia and Cuneense divisions were already heavily decimated and only the Tridentina division was still capable of conducting effective combat operations.

The 40,000-strong mass of stragglers—Alpini and Italians from other commands, plus various Germans and Hungarians—formed two columns that followed the Tridentina division which, supported by a handful of German armoured vehicles, led the way westwards to the new Axis front. The Soviets had already occupied every village and bitter battles were fought by the soldiers of the Tridentina to clear the way. In fifteen days the soldiers covered 200 km on foot, fought twenty-two battles and spent fourteen nights camped in the middle of the Russian steppe. Temperatures during the night fell between −30 °C (−20 °F) and −40 °C (−40 °F).

On the morning of January 26, the spearheads of the Tridentina reached the little hamlet of Nikolayevka, now part of the village of Livenka. A Soviet division of nearly 6,000 well armed soldiers occupied it and the surrounding area.

The Alpini immediately began their attack with their last 4,000 combat-ready soldiers, as they knew that this was the last Soviet position blocking their way to safety. But the Soviet forces held their ground, and after hours of fighting the Italian units became desperate as each hour increased the risk that Soviet reinforcements could arrive.

Although the chief-of-staff of the corps, Brigadier General Giulio Martinat, had already been killed earlier that day while leading an assault of the "Edolo" battalion, General Luigi Reverberi, commander of the Tridentina division, stepped onto one of the last three Panzers as the sun began to set and, yelling "Tridentina, Avanti!" (Tridentina Forward), led his men personally on the final assault. As the 4,000 Alpini advanced, all remaining soldiers of the columns fell in and the Soviets, facing a human wave attack by many of the 40,000 Italians (with some Germans and Hungarians), relented and abandoned the village after suffering huge losses.

The retreat of the Alpini was no longer contested by Soviet forces and on February 1 the remnants of the Corps reached Axis lines, under the leadership of general Reverberi (who later received the Italian gold medal of honor).

The Alpini did pay a high price in Russia. The 4 Alpine Division Cuneense was annihilated. Only about one tenth of the 3 Alpine Division Julia survived (approximately 1200 survivors of 15000 troops deployed) and only about one third of the 2 Alpine Division Tridentina survived (approximately 4250 survivors of 15000 troops
deployed).
The rest of these brave soldiers were killed by the Nazis in Concentration Camps after the Italian Capitulation September 1943

Italian participation in the Eastern Front

In late summer 1942, after participating in the conquest of eastern Ukraine, the highly-mobile riflemen (Bersaglieri) of the ARMIR eliminated the Soviet bridgehead at Serafimovič on the Don river. Then, with the support of German tanks, the Gariboldi troops repelled a Soviet attack during the first defensive battle of the Don.

Finally the ARMIR faced Operation Little Saturn in December 1942. The aim of this Soviet operation was the complete annihilation of the Italian 8th Army, as a result of the operations related to the Battle of Stalingrad.

On December 11, 1942 the Soviet 63rd Army, backed by T-34 tanks and fighter-bombers, first attacked the weakest Italian sector. This sector was held on the right by the Ravenna and Cosseria infantry divisions. Indeed from the Soviet bridgehead at Mamon, 15 divisions—supported by at least 100 tanks—attacked the Italian Cosseria and Ravenna Divisions, and although outnumbered 9 to 1, the Italians resisted until 19 December, when ARMIR headquarters finally ordered the battered divisions to withdraw.[3] Only before Christmas both divisions were driven back and defeated, after heavy and bloody fighting.

Meanwhile on 17 December 1942, the Soviet 21st Army and the Soviet 5th Tank Army attacked and defeated what remained of the Romanians to the right of the Italians. At about the same time, the Soviet 3rd Tank Army and parts of the Soviet 40th Army hit the Hungarians to the left of the Italians. This resulted in a collapse of the Axis front, north of Stalingrad: the ARMIR was encircled, but for some days the Italian troops were able—with huge casualties—to stop the attacking Soviet troops.

The Soviet 1st Guards Army then attacked the Italian center which was held by the 298th German, the Pasubio, the Torino, the Prince Amedeo Duke of Aosta, and the Sforzesca divisions. After eleven days of bloody fighting against overwhelming Soviet forces, these divisions were surrounded and defeated and Russian air support resulted in the death of General Paolo Tarnassi, commander of the Italian armoured force in Russia.

On 14 January 1943, after a short pause, the 6th Soviet Army attacked the Alpini divisions of the Italian Mountain Corps. These units had been placed on the left flank of the Italian army and, to date, were still relatively unaffected by the battle. However, the Alpini’s position had turned critical after the collapse of the Italian center, the collapse of the Italian right flank, and the simultaneous collapse of the Hungarian troops to the left of the Alpini. The Julia Division and Cuneense Division were destroyed. Members of the 1 Alpini Regiment, part of Cuneese Division, burned the regimental flags to keep them from being captured. Part of the Tridentina Division and other withdrawing troops managed to escape the encirclement.

On 26 January 1943, after heavy fighting which resulted in the Battle of Nikolajewka, the Alpini remnants breached the encirclement and reached new defensive positions set up to the west by the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer). But, by this time, the only operational fighting unit was the Tridentina Division and even it was not fully operational. The Tridentina Division had led the final breakout assault at Nikolajewka. Many of the troops who managed to escape were frostbitten, critically ill, and deeply demoralized:for practical purposes, the Italian Army in Russia did not exist anymore by February 1943.

"The Italian participation in operations in Russia proved extremely costly. Losses of the 8th Army from 20 August 1942-20 February 1943 totaled 87,795 killed and missing (3,168 officers and 84,627 NCOs and soldiers) and 34,474 wounded and frostbitten (1,527 officers and 32,947 NCOs and soldiers). In March–April 1943, the remnants of the Army returned to Italy for rest and reorganization. Upon the surrender of Italy in September 1943, the Army was disbanded."

Officially, ARMIR losses were 114,520 of the original 235,000 soldiers

 

 

 

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