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185th FOLGORE PARACHUTE DIVISION

at El Alamein September-November 1942


185th Folgore Parachute Division Morale: 50% Veteran 50% Regular IT

185th DIVISIONAL HEADQUARTERS (Gen. Frattini, Col. Bignami), with:
DIVISIONAL HQ: 1 HQ Platoon.
(185th CARABINIERI SECTION: 1 SMG Platoon.)

186th PARACHUTE REGIMENT (Col. Tantillo)
REGIMENTAL HQ: 1 HQ Platoon.
186th REGIMENTAL GUN COMPANY (Part): 1 47/32 ATG Platoon.
 
V PARACHUTE BATTALION (Maj. Izzo)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
13th, 14th, 15th PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.
 
VI PARACHUTE BATTALION (Maj. Bersonzi)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
16th, 17th, 18th PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.

187th PARACHUTE REGIMENT (Col. Camosso)
REGIMENTAL HQ: 1 HQ Platoon.
187th REGIMENTAL GUN COMPANY: 2 47/32 ATG Platoons.
 
II PARACHUTE BATTALION (Maj. Zanninovich)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
4th, 5th PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.
 
IV PARACHUTE BATTALION (Lt. Col. Luserno)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
10th, 11th, 12th PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.
 
IX PARACHUTE BATTALION (Maj. Rossi)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
25th, 26th, 27th PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.
 
X PARACHUTE BATTALION (Capt. Carugno)
HQ, 28th, 29th, 30th Companies: This had been absorbed into the IX Battalion due to losses.

RAGGRUPPAMENTO "RUSPOLI" (Lt. Col. Ruspoli)
RAGGRUPPAMENTO HQ: 1 HQ Platoon.
186th REGIMENTAL GUN COMPANY (Part): 1 47/32 ATG Platoon.
 
VII PARACHUTE BATTALION (Lt. Col. Ruspoli)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Platoon, 1 81mm Mortar Platoon.
19th, 20th, 21st PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 SMG Platoons.
 
VIII GUASTATORI PARACHUTE BATTALION (Maj. Burzi)
BATTALION HQ: 1 HQ Assault Engineer SMG Platoon.
22nd, 23rd, 24th GUASTATORI PARACHUTE COMPANIES, each: 3 Assault Engineer SMG Platoons.

DIVISIONAL TROOPS

185th PARACHUTE ARTILLERY REGIMENT (Col. Boffa)
REGIMENTAL HQ: 1 HQ Platoon.
1st PARACHUTE ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
(1st, 2nd BATTERIES) 2 47/32 ATG Stands.

2nd PARACHUTE ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
(3rd, 4th BATTERIES) 2 47/32 ATG Stands.

3rd PARACHUTE ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
(5th, 6th BATTERIES) 2 47/32 ATG Stands.


20th PARACHUTE MORTAR COMPANY:
2 81mm Mortar Platoons.


185th PARACHUTE PIONEER COMPANY:
3 Engineer SMG Platoons.


185th MOTOR TRANSPORT UNIT:
Sufficient trucks to transport 3 Platoons.


ATTACHED UNITS & UNITS PROVIDING GENERAL SUPPORT:
 
FROM CORPS ASSETS:
III/1st Eugenio di Savoia CELERE ARTILLERY GRUPPO: 
3 75/27 Field Guns & Tractors.

I/3rd Duca D'Aosta CELERE ARTILLERY GRUPPO: 
3 75/27 Field Guns & Tractors.

 
FROM TRIESTE DIVISION:
I/21st Po MOTORISED ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
3 100/17 Howitzers & Tractors.

 
FROM PAVIA DIVISION:
III/26th Rubicone ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
3 75/27 Field Guns & Tractors.

IV/26th Rubicone ARTILLERY GRUPPO:
3 75/27 Field Guns & Tractors.



PARACHUTE BATTALION HEAVY WEAPONS:
The Folgore had accumulated an assortment of various HMGs, 20mm Solothurn ATGs, and so on to supplement their lack of heavy weapons. To represent this the 6 Parachute Battalions and the Guastatori Battalion have the following weapons stands available;
3-HMG Platoons
9-20mm ATG Platoons
to be shared as equally as possible between them (ie. 2 stands per battalion - Max of 1 HMG per Regiment/Ragruppamento).


NOTES:
  1. The VII Guastatori (Demolition) Engineers are Veteran, and up to 2 Parachute Battalions, Divisional and Regimental Headquarters, and Parachute Artillery may also be Veteran. Divisional Troops (Mortars, Pioneers, Transport) are Regular. Attached Artillery are 50% Veteran and 50% Regular.
  2. Carabinieri are the Italian equivalent of Military Police, however they tended to have more of a combat presence than Allied MPs, and could be used to defend the HQ or as a small emergency combat group to "plug holes in the line"! I allow them to be present as part of the HQ defences, which seems a reasonable comprise and acknowledgement of their presence.
  3. There were also some 90mm Flak Guns present (probably attached to one of the above mentioned Artillery units), but I haven't been able to positively identify them. Allow the Division a "Heavy Flak" unit of 1 (or 2) 90/53 AA Guns & Tractors.
  4. There were also some heavy  weapons elements of Bersaglieri present (47/32 Anti-Tank Guns). These probably came from the 9th Bersaglieri Regiment (technically XXVIII, XXX, & XXXII Battalions - however strength at 2nd Alamein is listed as only 2 Btns) who would have had 1 of their battalions (the XXXII) equipped as an ATG unit. The Division can be allowed 1 (or 2) Bersaglieri Anti-Tank Gun Companies, each: 2 47/32 ATG Platoons - these should be rated as the same morale as the Paratroopers (ie. Regular or Veteran).
  5. The Paratroops are all rated as SMG because the standard equipment issued to each man was a MAB38 (Beretta) Sub-Machine Gun and a Combat Dagger, with only a handful of Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5mm Rifles with folding bayonet in use. The other infantry weapon used was the M1930 (Breda) LMG.
  6. The whole Division was effectively an extremely Elite force, being hand picked and extensively trained. The whole division could be rated Veteran. Some sources state that the Folgore definitely rated equal to (if not better than) the German Paratroopers of the same period (1942) for Morale, Training and Small Arms Firepower (but lacked the equivalent Heavy Weapons and Overall Firepower of a German Unit).

SOURCES:
  • le Armi della Fanteria Italiana nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale - Nicola Pignato (1978)
  • The Armed Forces of World War II - Andrew Mollo & Brig Carlo Sessa (1982)
  • Hand Book on the Italian Army (May 1943) - Terence Wise (1983)
  • Italian Army Handbook 1940-1943 - Victor W. Madeja (1984)
  • Italian Army Order of Battle 1940-44 - Victor W. Madeja (1990)
  • Mare Nostrum - Jack Greene (1990)
  • Thanks to James Burd for sharing his research on Folgore Division
  • Rommels North Africa Campaign Sept 1940 - Nov 1942 - Jack Greene & Alessandro Massignani (1994)
  • Italian Order of Battle (3 Volumes) - George Nafziger (1996)

Author: John Moher

 
Main
Def
AT
AI
RG
AT
AI
Max
SM
Flak
HD
WT
Move
20mm ATG
20mm
5
2
3
6"
-
-
-
-
-
0
-
6"
The 20mm ATG is the Solothurn 20mm Semi-Automatic Anti-Tank Rifle, which was used throughout the Italian Army in North Africa. This is a crew served support weapon, not an infantry platoon, so it does not use the Infantry Anti-Tank procedures. It may move and fire.

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