Mechanized Brigade "Legnano"

Brigata Meccanizzata "Legnano"
CoA mil ITA mec bde legnano.png
Coat of Arms of the Mechanized Brigade "Legnano"
Active21 October 1975 – 31 December 1997
CountryItaly
BranchItalian Army
TypeInfantry
RoleArmored warfare
Part of1975–1986 Armoured Division "Centauro"
1986–1997 3rd Army Corps
Garrison/HQBergamo

The Mechanized Brigade "Legnano" was a mechanized brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units were mechanized infantry battalions. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Bergamo in Lombardy. The name of the brigade commemorates the Lombard League victory in the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and its coat of arms depicts the Monument to the Warrior of Legnano in the centre of Legnano.

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The Legnano was activated as an infantry division on 8 February 1934. Initially the division consisted of the 7th Infantry Regiment "Cuneo", 8th Infantry Regiment "Cuneo", 67th Infantry Regiment "Palermo" and 27th Artillery Regiment. On 24 March 1939 the division was split into the 6th Infantry Division "Cuneo" and 58th Infantry Division "Legnano". After the split the "Legnano" fielded the 67th Infantry Regiment "Palermo", 68th Infantry Regiment "Palermo" and 58th Artillery Regiment.[1][2]

In 1940 the division remained in Fenestrelle as a reserve force during the Italian invasion of southern France. After the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 bogged down under stiff Greek resistance the "Legnano" division was dispatched to Albania in January 1941 to augment the Italian forces under pressure by the Greek counteroffensive.

In November 1942 the division participated in the occupation of Vichy France and remained afterwards in France on occupation duty. In August 1943 the division returned to Italy - first to Bologna and then to Brindisi in the South of Italy.[1] After Allied forces had landed on the Italian peninsula and an armistice between Italy and the Allies had been signed, the division stayed loyal to the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, who fled with the royal court from Rome to Brindisi.

Already on 26 September 1943 parts of the division were used to formed the 1st Motorized Grouping (Italian: 1° Raggruppamento Motorizzato), which was to aid in the allied war effort. The 1st Motorized Grouping consisted of the following units:

  • 1st Motorized Grouping (formed with officers and troops of the 58th Infantry Division "Legnano" Command Group)
    • 67th Infantry Regiment "Palermo"
    • V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed)
      • 1st Tank Company (L6/40 light tanks)
      • 16th Anti-tank Cannons Company (47/32 mod. 1935 anti-tank cannons)
      • 56th Anti-tank Cannons Company (47/32 mod. 1935 anti-tank cannons)
    • 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment (from the 104th Motorized Division "Mantova")[3]
      • Command Unit
      • III Field Howitzers Group ([[Obice da 75/18 modello 34|75/18 mod. 1935) howitzers)
      • IV Field Howitzers Group (75/18 Mod. 1935 howitzers)
      • XII Heavy Cannons Group (105/28 canons)
      • CCCXIV Field Howitzers Group (Skoda houfnice vz 14|100/22]] howitzers)
      • 1st Anti-aircraft Cannons Battery (20/65 guns)
      • Ammunition and Supplies Unit
    • Mixed Engineer Company
      • 1st Telegraphers Engineer Platoon
      • 1st Radiotelegraphers Engineer Platoon
      • 1st Signal Engineer Platoon
    • Services (logistic, medical, transport, etc. units)

In the next months the division lost all its units, which were needed on the front lines. On 17 February 1944 the division was deactivated after its last units had joined other units.

On 24 September 1944 the II Brigade of the Italian Liberation Corps ("Corpo Italiano di Liberazione", or CIL), was renamed as Combat Group "Legnano". The Combat Group consisted of the 68th Infantry Regiment "Palermo", the 11th Artillery Regiment, the elite IX Assault Battalion and the Special Infantry Regiment, which consisted of the remnants of the 3rd Alpini Regiment and 4th Bersaglieri Regiment. The Combat Group was equipped with British weapons and materiel. The combat group's structure when it entered the front was:

  • Combat Group "Legnano"
    • 68th Infantry Regiment "Palermo"
    • Special Infantry Regiment
      • Command Company
      • Bersaglieri Battalion "Goito"
      • Alpini Battalion "Piemonte"
      • Alpini Battalion "Abruzzi"
      • Mortar Company (ML 3-inch mortars)
      • Anti-tank Cannons Company (57/50 (17-pdr) anti-tank guns)
    • 11th Artillery Regiment "Mantova"
      • Command Unit
      • I Field Howitzers Group (88/27 (25-pdr) howitzers)
      • II Field Howitzers Group (88/27 (25-pdr) howitzers)
      • III Field Howitzers Group (88/27 (25-pdr) howitzers)
      • IV Field Howitzers Group (88/27 (25-pdr) howitzers)
      • V Anti-tank Cannons Group (76/55 (17-pdr) anti-tank guns)
      • VI Anti-aircraft Group (40/56 anti-aircraft guns)
    • LI Mixed Engineer Group
      • 1st Construction Engineer Company
      • 2nd Construction Engineer Company
      • Signal Engineer Company
    • Divisional Services (logistic, medical, transport, etc. units)

The Legnano entered the front as part of the Polish II Corps on the extreme left of the British 8th Army near the river Idice and was tasked with liberating Bologna.

Cold War[edit]

After the war the combat group was garrisoned in Bergamo. When the 67th Infantry Regiment "Palermo" returned to the combat group on 15 October 1946 the group became once more the Infantry Division "Legnano". The division also received the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group. In 1947 the two infantry regiments changed their name from "Palermo" to "Legnano" and the division was augmented with the Horse Artillery Regiment "Volòire".

In the next years the division was motorized with American equipment and the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group was increased to full regiment with three battalions of armoured and mechanized cavalry. The division was the only major unit of the III Territorial Military Command in Milan until the command became the III Army Corps on 1 July 1957. Subsequently the Armored Division Centauro in Novara, the Infantry Division "Cremona" and Alpine Brigade "Taurinense" both based in Turin entered the III Army Corps.

On 1 May 1958 the 4th Armored Infantry Regiment joined the division. The regiment consisted of the XX Tank Battalion with M47 Patton tanks and the II Bersaglieri Battalion. At the same time the 3rd Cavalry Regiment was reduced to Divisional Reconnaissance Group "Legnano". After the four artillery groups of the 11th Artillery Regiment had been re-equipped with M101 105mm and M114 155mm howitzers, the Horse Artillery Regiment "Volòire" was transferred to the III Army Corps.

The structure of the division before the 1975 reform was as follows:

Infantry Division "Legnano" in 1974
  • CoA mil ITA mec bde legnano.png "'Infantry Division "Legnano""', in Bergamo
    • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 004.png 4th Armored Infantry Regiment, in Legnano[4]
    • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 067.png 67th Infantry Regiment "Legnano", in Montorio Veronese
      • Command and Services Company, in Montorio Veronese
      • I Infantry Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • II Infantry Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • III Infantry Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • IV Mechanized Battalion, in Montorio Veronese (M113 armored personnel carriers and M47 tanks)
      • Regimental Anti-tank Company, in Montorio Veronese (anti-tank guided missiles and M47 tanks)
    • CoA mil ITA btg fanteria 068.png 68th Infantry Regiment "Legnano", in Bergamo
      • Command and Services Company, in Bergamo
      • I Infantry Battalion, in Bergamo
      • II Infantry Battalion, in Como
      • III Infantry Battalion, in Brescia
      • IV Mechanized Battalion, in Monza (M113 armored personnel carriers and M47 tanks)
      • Regimental Anti-tank Company, in Monza (anti-tank guided missiles and M47 tanks)
    • CoA mil ITA gr artiglieria 011.png 11th Field Artillery Regiment, in Cremona
    • "Lancieri di Milano" Squadrons Group, in Monza (Fiat Campagnola reconnaissance vehicles and M47 Patton tanks)[6]
    • Engineer Battalion "Legnano", in Verona
    • Signal Battalion "Legnano", in Bergamo
    • Services Grouping "Legnano", in Presezzo[7]
      • Command Platoon, in Presezzo
      • Supply, Repairs, Recovery Unit "Legnano", in Orio al Serio
      • Transport Unit "Legnano", in Presezzo
      • Medical Battalion "Legnano" (Reserve), in Presezzo (includes the 5th Field Hospital)[8]
      • Provisions Supply Company "Legnano", in Presezzo

The Light Aviation Unit "Legnano", at Bergamo-Orio al Serio Air Base was disbanded on 16 July 1972.[9]

In 1975 the Italian Army undertook a major reorganization of it forces: the regimental level was abolished and battalions came under direct command of multi-arms brigades. Therefore, on 29 October 1975 the Infantry Division "Legnano" was split to form the Mechanized Brigade "Legnano" in Bergamo and the Mechanized Brigade "Brescia" in Brescia. The I and IV battalions of the 68th Infantry Regiment "Legnano" and the battalions of the 4th Armored Infantry Regiment were used to form the "Legnano" brigade. The I and III battalion of the 67th Infantry Regiment along with the III Battalion of the 68th Infantry Regiment were used to form the Mechanized Brigade "Brescia".

The 11th Field Artillery Regiment and its I and II groups were disbanded, while the III group was transferred to the 3rd Mechanized Brigade "Goito". The IV Heavy Field Artillery Group became the 11th Field Artillery Group "Monferrato" and remained with the "Legnano" brigade. The VII Reconnaissance Squadrons Group "Lancieri di Milano" was transferred to the Mechanized Division "Mantova", while the division's Signal Battalion, Engineer Battalion and Services Grouping were split among the two new brigades. After the reform the Legnano's authorized strength was 4,733 men (272 Officers, 637 non-commissioned officers and 3,824 soldiers) and it joined the Armored Division "Centauro". After the reform the brigade consisted of the following units:

Soldiers of the 2nd Bersaglieri Battalion "Governolo" on patrol with the Multinational Force in Lebanon in 1982

In 1982 and 1983 the brigade provided personnel for the Italian contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. In 1986 the Italian Army abolished the divisional level and the Legnano came under direct command of the 3rd Army Corps. On 30 November 1989 the 68th Mechanized Infantry Battalion "Palermo" was disbanded.[2]

After the end of the Cold War the Italian Army began to draw down its forces and therefore starting in 1991 the Legnano received and lost units repeatedly over the coming years: In June 1991 the brigade received the 4th Tank Battalion "M.O. Passalacqua" and 18th Bersaglieri Battalion "Poggio Scanno" from the disbanded Mechanized Brigade "Goito". The same year the Legnano received the 52nd Field Artillery Group from the disbanded Mechanized Brigade "Brescia", while the 11th Field Artillery Group "Monferrato" was disbanded on 27 August 1991.[3] On 27 August 1992 the 4th Tank Battalion "M.O. Passalacqua" merged with the 67th Mechanized Infantry Battalion "Montelungo" to form the 67th Armored Infantry Regiment "Legnano".[1] In 1993 the brigade provided troops for the United Nations Operation in Somalia II. At the same time the remaining battalions of the brigade returned to use their name regimental names for traditional reasons without changing their composition or size.

In 1995 the Army began a further round of cuts which included the Legnano and so on 5 October 1995 the 67th Armored Infantry Regiment "Legnano" was disbanded.[1] The same year the brigade transferred the 4th Tank Regiment and 52nd Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment to the Armored Brigade "Centauro", followed in 1996 by the 2nd Bersaglieri and 3rd Bersaglieri regiments.

On 16 September 1996 the brigade became the Support Units Command "Legnano" with the following units of the 3rd Army Corps:

  • CoA mil ITA mec bde legnano.png Support Units Command "Legnano", in Bergamo

But already on 31 December 1997 the Support Units Command "Legnano" was disbanded and its units came under direct command of the 3rd Army Corps.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "67° Reggimento Fanteria "Legnano"". Italian Army. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d "68° Reggimento Fanteria "Legnano"". Italian Army. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "11° Reggimento Artiglieria Motorizzato". Italian Army. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  4. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 536.
  5. ^ Stefani, Filippo (1985). La storia della dottrina e degli ordinamenti dell'Esercito Italiano. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore Esercito. p. Volume III, Tomo 2, page 473-483.
  6. ^ Stefani, Filippo (1985). La storia della dottrina e degli ordinamenti dell'Esercito Italiano. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore Esercito. p. Volume III, Tomo 2, page 437.
  7. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo II. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 389.
  8. ^ Franco dell'Uomo, Roberto di Rosa (2001). L'esercito Italiano verso il 2000. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore Esercito. p. Volume I, Tomo 2, page 389.
  9. ^ Cerbo, Giovanni (1996). L'Aviazione dell'Esercito - Dalle origini ai giorni nostri. Rome: Rivista Militare. p. 76. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  10. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 74.
  11. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 211.
  12. ^ "4° Reggimento Carri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 17 November 2018.