There were originally two main Italian guerrilla organizations: the Fronte di Resistenza (Front of Resistance) and the Figli d'Italia (Sons of Italy) .
The Fronte di Resistenza was a military organization led by Colonel Lucchetti and centered in the main cities of the former Italian East Africa. Its main activities were military sabotage and collection of information about British troops to be sent to Italy in multiple ways.
The Figli d'Italia organization was formed in September 1941 by Blackshirts of the "Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale" (a fascist organization of volunteer soldiers). They engaged in a guerrilla war against the British troops and even harassed those Italian civilians and colonial soldiers that had been dubbed "traitors" (for being favorable to cooperation with the British and Ethiopian forces).
Other groups were the "Amhara" fighters of Lieutenant Amedeo Guillet in Eritrea and the guerrilla group of Major Gobbi based at Dessie . From the beginning of 1942 there was a resistance group in Eritrea, under the orders of Captain Aloisi, dedicated to help soldiers to escape from the British POW camps. In the first months of 1942 (because of the August 1940 Italian conquest of British Somaliland), there were also Italian guerrillas in British Somaliland. .
These guerrilla units (called "Bande" in Italian) were able to operate in a very extended area, from northern Eritrea to southern Somalia. Their armament was made up mainly of old rifles "91", pistols "Beretta", machine guns "Fiat" and "Schwarzlose", hand grenades, dynamite and even some small 65 mm cannons. But they always lacked large amounts of ammunition .
From January 1942 many of these "Bande" started to operate under the coordinated orders of general Muratori (commander of the fascist "Milizia"). He was able to encourage a revolt against the British troops by the tribe Azebo Oromo in northern Ethiopia, who had a history of rebellion. The revolt was put down by the British and Ethiopian forces only at the beginning of 1943 .
In spring 1942 even the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie started to open diplomatic "channels of communication" with the Italian insurgents, because he was impressed by the victory of Rommel in Tobruk (Libya) . Major Lucchetti declared (after the war) that the Emperor, had the Axis had reached Ethiopia, was ready to accept an Italian Protectorate with these conditions: 1) a total amnesty for all the Ethiopians sentenced by Italy; 2) presence of Ethiopians in all levels of the administration; 3) participation of Emperor Haile Selassie to the future government of the Protectorate .
In the summer of 1942 the most successful units were those led by Colonel Calderari in Somalia, Colonel Di Marco in the Ogaden, Colonel Ruglio amongst the Danakil and "Blackshirt centurion" De Varda in Ethiopia. Their successful ambushes forced the British to dispatch troops, with airplanes and tanks, from Kenya and Sudan to the guerrilla-ridden territories of the former Italian East Africa .
That summer the British decided to put most of the Italian population of coastal Somalia into concentration camps, in order to avoid their possible contact with Japanese submarines .
In October 1942 the Italian guerrillas started to lose steam because of Rommel's defeat at the Battle of El Alamein and the capture of Major Lucchetti (the head of the Fronte di Resistenza organization).
The guerrilla war continued until summer 1943, when the remaining Italian soldiers started to destroy their armaments and, in some cases, escaped successfully to Italy, like Lieutenant Amedeo Guillet (nicknamed "the Devil Commander" by the British) reached Taranto on September 3, 1943. He requested from the Italian War Ministry an "aircraft loaded with equipment to be used for guerrilla attacks in Eritrea" (), but the Italian armistice a few days later ended his plan.
One of the last Italian soldiers to surrender to the British forces was Corrado Turchetti, who wrote in his memoirs that some soldiers continued to ambush Allied troops until October 1943. The very last Italian officer who fought the guerrilla war was Colonel Nino Tramonti in Eritrea .
Of the many Italians who performed guerrilla actions between December 1941 and September 1943, two are worthy of note: