The 8. Army  was formed on 25 January 1940. After service in northern Italy, it was disbanded on 31 October 1940. Reformed on 1 April 1942, the army was earmarked for service in Russia. The 8. Army, also known as the Armata Italiana in Russia (ARMIR) or the Italian Army in Russia, began arriving on the Eastern Front in July 1942. After capturing Krasny Lutsch and Serafimovich, the army halted on the Don where it held a wide front. Struck by the massive Soviet offensive in December 1942, the 8th Army’s front was shattered and many of its units were overrun while others endured a grueling retreat to successive defensive positions. The Italian participation in operations in Russia proved extremely costly. Losses of the 8. 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.

 

Commanders

Generale designato d’Armata H.R.H. Adalberto duca di Bergamo (1940 – 1940)
Generale d’Armata Italo Gariboldi (1942 – 1943)

Order of battle (10 December 1942)

Army Group B (Generaloberst Maximilian Freiherr von und zu Weichs an der Glon)
Italian 8th Army or Armata Italiana in Russia (A.R.M.I.R.) (Generale d’Armata Italo Gariboldi)
  * Chief of Staff: Generale di Divisione Bruno Malaguti
  * Artillery Commander: Generale di Divisione Mario Balotta
  * Engineer Commander: Generale di Divisione Arnaldo Forgiero
  * Commander of Chemical Troops: Tenente Colonnello Cesiro Mischi
  * Aviation Commander: Generale di Brigata Aerea Enrico Pezzi (1) – 21o Gruppo Autonomo (Maggiore Ettore Foschini) composed of the 356a, 361a, 382a and 386a Squadriglie equipped Macchi C.200 “Saetta” fighters. In September 1942, twelve Macchi C.202 “Folgore” fighters plus two photographic-reconnaissance variants joined the group in Russia; 71o Gruppo Autonomo Osservazione Aerea composed of the 38a and 116a Squadriglie equipped with Caproni Ca.311 and Fiat Br.20 “Cicogna” aircraft.
  * Intendant General: Generale di Brigata Carlo Biglino
  * German General with the Italian 8th Army: General der Infanterie Kurt von Tippelskirch, 27 August 1942-1 February 1943.
  * Chief of the General Staff of the German General with the Italian 8th Army: Oberst Walter Nagel, 18 September 1942-5 January 1943; Generalmajor Dr. phil. Hans Speidel, 5 January 1943-5 February 1943.
Army-Level Assets:
  * Raggruppamento truppe a cavallo (Generale di Brigata Guglielmo Barbò di Casel Morano) – 3rd “Savoia Cavalleria” Regiment (Colonnello Alessandro Bettoni Cazzago) and 5th “Lancieri di Novara” Regiment (Colonnello Carlo Pagliano). The bulk of the two regiments had been removed to the rear for care of the horses; not employable in the winter season.
  * 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria d’Armata. As of 10 December 1942, all six of this organization’s artillery groups were farmed out to the four corps as reinforcements.
  * 201o Regimmento Artiglieria Motorizzato (Colonnello Enrico Altaville) – I, II, III Gruppo da 75/32 (three batteries each). As of 10 December 1942, the III Gruppo was farmed out to the II Corps as reinforcement.
  * 4º Raggruppamento Artiglieria contraerei (Colonnello Giuseppe di Martino) – IV and XIX Gruppo cannoni da 75/46 (two batteries each); XXXVI, XXXVII and XXXVIII Gruppo cannoni da 75/46 (three batteries each).
  * 31st, 40th, 42nd and 65th Antiaircraft Batteries (20mm)

Italian Alpine Corps (Generale di Corpo d’Armata Gabriele Nasci)
  * Chief of Staff: Colonnello Giulio Martinat
  * Artillery Commander: Generale di Brigata Carlo Filippi
  * Engineer Commander: Generale di Brigata Cesare Tamassia
Line Divisions:
   * 2nd Tridentina Alpine Division (Generale di Brigata Luigi Reverberi)
    6th and 5th Alpine Regiments (Colonnello Paolo Signorini and Colonnello Giuseppe Adam respectively)
    2nd Alpine Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Federico Moro).
   * 3rd Julia Alpine Division (Generale di Brigata Umberto Ricagno) (2)
    9th and 8th Alpine Regiments (Colonnello Fausto Lavizzari and Colonnello Armando Cimolino respectively)
    3rd Alpine Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Pietro Gay).
  * 4th Cuneense Alpine Division (Generale di Divisione Emilio Battisti) (3)
    1st and 2nd Alpine Regiments (Colonnello Luigi Manfredi and Colonnello Luigi Scrimin respectively)
    4th Alpine Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Enrico Orlandi).
Organic Corps Assets:
   * 11º Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata – LI, LII and LIII Gruppo cannoni da 105/32; CXVII Gruppo obici da 149/13.
  * 39th and 41st Antiaircraft Batteries (20mm)
Additional Army-Level Reinforcements:
  * Alpine Ski Battalion “Monte Cervino” (Tenente Colonnello Mario D’Adda)
  * Squadron grouping of dismounted cavalry from the Raggruppamento truppe a cavallo (see note above).
  * Horse Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Domenico Montella) – without horses; removed to the rear.
  * XXXII Gruppo cannoni da 149/40 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata
  * XXIV Gruppo cannoni da 149/28 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata
  * German Artillery Regiment 612

Italian II Corps (Generale di Corpo d’Armata Giovanni Zanghieri)
  * Chief of Staff: Colonnello Ugo Almici
  * Artillery Commander: Generale di Brigata Italo Giglio
  * Engineer Commander: Generale di Brigata Balilla Rima
Line Divisions:
  * 5th Cosseria Infantry Division (Generale di Divisione Enrico Gazzale; Divisional Infantry Commander: Generale di Brigata Vincenzo Robertiello)
    89th and 90th Salerno Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Paolino Maggio and Tenente Colonnello Giacomo Lapenna respectively)
    108th Motorized Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Ernesto Drommi) + German Grenadier Regiment 318 (Oberst Erich Mielke). (4)
  * 3rd Ravenna Infantry Division (Generale di Brigata Francesco Dupont; Divisional Infantry Commander: Generale di Brigata Manlio Capizzi)
    38th and 37th Ravenna Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Mario Bianchi and Colonnello Giovanni Naldoni respectively)
     121st Motorized Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Giacomo Manfredi)
     three companies of German anti-tank guns (22 guns in total).
Organic Corps Assets:
  * 2º Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata (Tenente Colonnello Liberato Mascagna) – III and XXIII Gruppo cannoni da 105/28; CIII, CXXIII and CXXIV Gruppo obici da 149/13.
  * 52nd and 54th Antiaircraft Batteries (20mm)
  * Raggruppamento CC.NN. “23 Marzo” (Luogotenente Generale Luigi Martinesi)
  Gruppo Battaglioni CC.NN. “M” “Leonessa” (Console Graziano Sardu) – XIV and XV Battaglione CC.NN.;    XXXVIII Battaglione CC.NN. Armi d’Accompagnamento [support arms].
   Gruppo Battaglioni CC.NN. “M” “Valle Scrivia” (Console Mario Bertoni) – V and XXXIV Battaglione CC.NN.; XLI Battaglione CC.NN. Armi d’Accompagnamento [support arms].
Additional Army-Level Reinforcements:
  * III Gruppo of the 201o Regimmento Artiglieria Motorizzato
  * XXXI Gruppo cannoni da 149/40 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria d’Armata
  * 101st Engineer Company – Ferrymen

Italian XXXV Corps (Generale di Corpo d’Armata Francesco Zingales)
  * Chief of Staff: Colonnello Gaetano Vargas
  * Artillery Commander: Generale di Brigata Adriano Perrod
  * Engineer Commander: Generale di Brigata Mario Tirelli
Line Divisions:
   * German 298th Infantry Division (Generalmajor Arnold Szelinski)
    Grenadier Regiments 525, 526 and 527
    Artillery Regiment 298.
  * 9th Pasubio Semi-Motorized Infantry Division (Generale di Divisione Guido Boselli; Divisional Infantry     Commander: Generale di Brigata Davide Borghini)
     79th and 80th Roma Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Armando Mazzocchi and Tenente Colonnello G.B. Casassa respectively)
     8th Motorized Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Alfredo Reginella).  
Organic Corps Assets:
  * 30º Raggruppamento Artiglieria di Corpo d’Armata (Colonnello Lorenzo Matiotti) – LX, LXI and LXII Gruppo cannoni da 105/32; CXXIV Gruppo obici da 149/13.
  * 95th and 97th Antiaircraft Batteries (20mm)
  * Raggruppamento CC.NN. “3 Gennaio” (Luogotenente Generale Filippo Diamanti)
     Gruppo Battaglioni CC.NN. “M” “Montebello” (Console Italo Vianini) – VI and XXX Battaglione CC.NN.; XII Battaglione CC.NN. Armi d’Accompagnamento [support arms].
     Gruppo Battaglioni CC.NN. “M” “Tagliamento” (Console Domenico Mittica) – LXIII and LXXIX Battaglione CC.NN.; LXIII Battaglione Armi d’Accompagnamento [support arms] (Army).
Additional Army-Level Reinforcements:
  * XXXIV Gruppo cannoni da 149/40 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria d’Armata
  * L Gruppo cannoni da 149/28 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria d’Armata

German XXIX Army Corps (General der Infanterie Hans von Obstfelder)
   * Chief of the General Staff: Oberst Albrecht Ritter von Quirnheim
Line Divisions:
  * 52nd Torino Semi-Motorized Infantry Division (Generale di Divisione Roberto Lerici; Divisional Infantry Commander: Generale di Brigata Cesare Rossi)
     81st and 82nd Torino Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Biagio Santini and Colonnello Evaristo Fioravanti respectively)
    52nd Motorized Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Giuseppe Ghiringhelli).
  * 3rd Celere Division “Principe Amedeo Duca d’Aosta” (Generale di Divisione Ettore de Blasio; Vice Commander: Generale di Carlo Lombardi) (5)
    3rd and 6th Bersaglieri Regiments (Colonnello Ercole Felici and Colonnello Mario Carloni respectively)
    120th Motorized Artillery Regiment (Tenente Colonnello Ugo de Simone)
    XLVII Battaglione Bersaglieri motociclisti, LXVII Battaglione Bersaglieri corazzato (two companies of L6/40 light tanks)
     XIII Gruppo “Cavalleggeri di Alessandria” (two squadrons of Semovente L/40 da 47/32 tank destroyers)
    Italian Croat Legion (Tenente Colonnello Egon Zitnik)
    one rifle battalion (three companies)
    one machinegun company
    one mortar company with 81mm pieces
    one anti-tank company with 47/32mm pieces
    one artillery battery with 65mm pieces.
  * 2nd Sforzesca Infantry Division (Generale di Divisione Carlo Pellegrini; Divisional Infantry Commander: Generale di Brigata Michele Vaccaro)
    53rd and 54th Umbria Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Massimo Contini and Colonnello Mario Viale respectively)
    17th Motorized Artillery Regiment (Colonnello Achille Tirindelli).
Additional Italian Army-Level Reinforcements:
   * LXXIII Gruppo obici da 210/22 of the 9º Raggruppamento Artiglieria d’Armata

156th Vicenza Infantry Division (Generale di Brigata Etelvoldo Pascolini) (5) on lines of communications duties under the Befehlshaber Heeresgebiet B – 277th and 278th Vicenza Infantry Regiments (Colonnello Giulio Cesare Salvi and Colonnello Gaetano Romeres respectively).

 

Italian soldiers on the Eastern Front
it-russia-1
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

 

Footnotes

1. On 29 December 1942, General Pezzi was killed in the crash of a Savoia Marchetti SM.81 “Pipistrello” tri-motor transport aircraft after departing from the encircled garrison at Chertkovo. All eight persons on the plane died including Colonnello Prof. Federico Bocchetti, army doctor of the Italian 8th Army.
2. Taken prisoner in January 1943.
3. Taken prisoner in January 1943.
4. Grenadier Regiment 318 was a component of the 213th Security Division.
5. Generale di Brigata Antonio Luridiana took over as vice commander on 13 December 1942.

Sources used

W. Victor Madeja – Italian Army Order of Battle: 1940-1944 – Between Fascism and Monarchy
Stato Maggiore Dell’Esercito – Ufficio Storico (General Staff of the Army – Historical Office) – Le Operaazioni Delle Unità Italiane Al Fronte Russo (1941-1943)

Reference material on this unit

Stato Maggiore Dell’Esercito – Ufficio Storico (General Staff of the Army – Historical Office) – Le Operaazioni Delle Unità Italiane Al Fronte Russo (1941-1943)
Pier Luigi Bertinaria – La Tragedia Italiana Sul Fronte Russo (1941-1943): Immagini Un Sofferto Sacrificio – Con Documenti E Testimonianze

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