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Ok, I'm making 2 (two) medium scenarios for Italian defence. One in Dec 42, the other in Jan 43.

Both feature understrength, weakened or unfit Italian formations where average units are green with some conscript and a few (very few) reg units.

Both are planned as hasty defensive opperations to slow and delay the Soviet advances of that period.

Ground is open country with gentle slopes and occasional gullys. Very few trees but a fair amount of brush.

In both scenarios, the Italians are blocking a road that leads to the rear.

In both scenarios, The Soviets want to clear the road and push beyond.

Any grogs with good advice?

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So your scenarios would be set in the Operation Uranus/Saturn period. I think you are doing the Italian a dis-service by this stage of the war all the divisions would have had experience of fighting on the Eastern Front, so these would have been tough fighters, by now quite experienced in German methods of fighting but obviously lacking equipment and short of men. So a 70% strength unit of regulars or veterans, weakened and tired would seem to fit the bill better. Mainly use artillery and HMG fire to slow the enemy and use mines and close assault to stop tanks as AT guns were in short supply.

Russian forces were pretty threadbare by January 1943, each new offensive was launched by fresh troops but they ran through them pretty quickly, especially tank units which had to cover such large distances.

So you are either looking at a Tank/Mech Corps advanced force which would be tanks and SMG tank riders with maybe a mortar spotter in support since Tank Corps were pretty bare formations at this stage or a Combined Arms Army with a mix of Rifle Division infantry backed up by a Tank Regiment or Brigade. Again pretty bare formations that have outrun their artillery so mortars or 76mm guns in support.

I think you are probably trying to go for the feel of two pretty exhausted, thin formations in a hurry, desperate and racing against time. Sounds good though.

Quote from Wikipedia "Stalingrad

The situation for the Italian troops along the Don River remained stable until the Soviets launched "Operation Saturn” on 11 December 1942. The aim of this operation was the annihilation of the Italian, Hungarian, Romanian, and German positions along the Don River. The first stage of Operation Saturn was known as Operation Little Saturn. The aim of this operation was the complete annihilation of the Italian 8th Army.

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. Both divisions were driven back and defeated.

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.

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. [3]

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.

Overall, about 130,000 Italians had been surrounded by the Soviet offensive. According to Italian sources, about 20,800 soldiers died in the fighting, 64,000 were captured, and 45,000 were able to withdraw.[4] When the surviving Italian troops were eventually evacuated to Italy, the Fascist regime tried to hide them from the populace, so appalling was their appearance after surviving the "Russian Front."

The Battle of Nikolayevka:

was fought on January 26, 1943 as small part of the larger Battle of Stalingrad. The Battle pitted forces of the Italian 8th Armys Alpini Corps against the four Soviet Armies of the Voronezh Front. Since the war the village has been absorbed by the nearby village of Livenka.



* 1 Prelude

* 2 The battle

* 3 Myths

* 4 References

[edit] Prelude

On December 16, 1942, Soviet forces launched Operation Little Saturn aimed at the Italian 8th Army. The Soviet plan was to force the River Don, encircle and destroy the Italian 8th Army along the Don, then push towards Rostov on Don and thus cut the line of communication of Army Group A fighting in the Caucasus and the line of communication of 4th Panzer Army, which was in the midst of Operation Wintergewitter—the attempt to relieve 6th Army from encirclement in the city of Stalingrad. on December 16th General Fyodor Isidorovich Kuznetsov's 1st Guards Army and General Dmitri Danilovich Lelyushenko's 3rd Guards Army attacked the units of the Italian 8th Army, which were quickly overcome, encircled and crushed—in three days the Soviets had opened a gap in the Axis front 45 km (28 mi) deep and 150 km (93 mi) wide and destroyed two of the Italian Armys Corps's (2nd and 35th). The Soviet armored columns now rapidly advanced south towards the Black Sea. Thus 4th Panzer Army was forced to abandon its relief attempt of the 6th Army and fall back to halt the advancing Soviets.

[edit] The battle

The Italian 8th Armys 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 13th, 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 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 15th. 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 occupied it and the surrounding area. The Alpini immediately began their attack 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 Forward", led his men personally on the final assault. As the Alpini advanced, all remaining soldiers of the columns fell in and the Soviets, facing a human wave attack by 40,000 men, relented and abandoned the village. The retreat of the Alpini was no longer contested by Soviet forces and on February 1st the remnants of the Corps reached Axis lines.

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Here is a good link: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Styx/9891/ostring.htm

The Italian Alpine Division Julia fighting alongside German units during the Russian raid on Tatinska airfield by a Tank Corps.

8th and 9th Alpini regiment

3rd alpine artillery regiment

They were armed with 45 and 81mm mortars, 75mm mountain guns, 105mm guns and 75mm AT guns. As they retreated they lost equipment and by the end had mainly 45mm mortars and a few AT and mountain guns.

So for the start of the battle I would put these mainly as regulars, 70%, weakened (long campaign few replacements) with the weapons detailed above.

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