Italian 27 Divisione Autotrasportabile "Brescia"

27th Truck-Moveable Division (Brescia)

The 27th Truck-Moveable Division "Brescia" (Italian: 27 Divisione Autotrasportabile "Brescia") was organized from the 27th Infantry Division "Sila" prior to the start of World War II.

The Tobruk siege ring in 1941 was mainly held by the Italian "Ariete" Armoured and "Trieste" Motorized Divisions (the XX Motorised Corps), and the "Pavia", "Bologna", and "Brescia" Infantry Divisions (the XXI Infantry Corps). The "Brescia" Division, who brought flame-thrower parties and tanks stormed the Australian defences on 1 May 1941, and the Australian soldiers bunkered along the R4, R5, R6, and R7 strongpoints were eliminated, while forcing the survivors to surrender. The 7th Bersaglieri Regiment then bunkered along the captured concrete emplacements but was later ordered in late August to Ain Gazala to rest and refit. (About 7 AM on 13 May an Australian attack or raid was made in the Italian sector but the 7th Bersaglieri troops allowed no penetration of their lines.)

The Italian commanders in the division were determined to retain the initiative and sent out another strong raiding party on 16 May. In the ensuing night attack, three Australian concrete fortifications were taken. Although the Australian Official History describes losing three positions to German attackers an Italian narrative has recorded:

On the night of 16 May, 1941, two platoons of the 3rd Combat Sappers Company in unison with assault groups of the "Brescia" Infantry Division, which had been sent as reinforcements on the 11th of the month, started the assault. With total disregard to danger and with accustomed stealthness the combat sappers open three paths in the wire fencing in front of each assault group . They use explosive chages in tubes. Fighting side by side with the raiders, and in fierce hand-to-hand combat, they inflict heavy losses on the enemy conquering the objectives.

In a stubborn fighting withdrawal the "Brescia" Division hold successive positions in the Sollum-Halfaya area (where it holds out until 17 January 1942) as the Italo-German Army is forced back from its Gazala position on 15 December 1941.

Order of Battle June 1940

27th Truck-Moveable Division "Brescia"

  • 19th Infantry Regiment "Brescia"
  • 20th Infantry Regiment "Brescia"
  • 55th Artillery Regiment
  • 27th Mixed Engineer Battalion

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