Open main menu
A Bersagliere in 1900
8th Bersaglieri Regiment in 2007

The Bersaglieri, singular Bersagliere, (Italian pronunciation: [bersaʎˈʎɛːri]) (Marksmen in English) are a speciality of the infantry corps of the Italian Army. They were originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia, later to become the Royal Italian Army. They have always been a high-mobility light infantry unit, and can still be recognized by the distinctive wide brimmed hat that they wear (only in dress uniform in modern times), decorated with black capercaillie feathers. The feathers are usually applied to their combat helmets. Another distinctive trait of the Bersaglieri is the fast jog pace they keep on parades, instead of marching.

Contents

DescriptionEdit

The Bersaglieri were a high-mobility light infantry at their inception in 1836, with their specific situation evolving with changes in warfare. In the nineteenth century, Bersaglieri acted as skirmishers or shock troops, moving from place to place by running. An elaborate system of bugle calls allowed their units to be deployed and commanded quickly, singly or in combination. The tradition of running continues today in parades and during barracks duty. In World War I, some Bersaglieri served as bicycle troops, better to execute their mission of maneuver warfare. During the Cold War, the Bersaglieri were exclusively employed as mechanized infantry.

Bersaglieri are well-known for their extraordinary performances in parades and military tattoos, always running instead of marching, with hundreds of black capercaillie feathers flowing from their wide-brimmed black hats. These feathers are also worn on Bersaglieri combat helmets. They once served a military purpose, acting as camouflage and as a sunshade for the marksman's shooting eye. Today, they are a badge of honor, attracting new recruits and fostering esprit among their wearers.[1]

Origins and historyEdit

 
The Bersaglieri halt the Russian attack during the Battle of the Chernaya

The relatively poor Kingdom of Sardinia could not afford large numbers of cavalry, so a quick-moving infantry corps of marksmen were needed. These troops were trained to high physical and marksmanship standards. Like the French chasseurs à pied, a level of independence and initiative was encouraged so that they could operate in looser formations, in which direct command and control was not required. They fired individually and carried 60 rounds instead of the standard 40 rounds of traditional line infantry. The first uniform was black with brimmed hats, called "vaira". These were intended to defend the head from sabre blows.

The first public appearance of the Bersaglieri was on the occasion of a military parade on 1 July 1836. The First Company marched through Turin with the rapid, high-stepping gait (180 paces/minute) still used by the Bersaglieri in World War II and later. The modern Bersaglieri still run both on parade and even during barracks duty - on penalty of punishment if they do not. The new corps impressed King Charles Albert, who immediately had them integrated as part of the Piedmontese regular army. The corps grew rapidly and by 1852 there were already 10 battalions, each with four companies.

Throughout the nineteenth century the Bersaglieri filled the role of skirmishers, screening the slow-moving line and column formations, but acting as special shock troops if required. They were originally intended to serve as mountain troops, as well; the climber Jean-Antoine Carrel was a Bersagliere. When the Alpini Corps were created in 1872 a strong rivalry arose between the two elite corps.

Unified ItalyEdit

 
British commercial advertising showing a Bersagliere, circa 1890

During the First War of Italian Independence (1848–1849) the Bersaglieri distinguished themselves by storming the bridge at Goito. In 1855 the Bersaglieri provided five battalions for the Sardinian Expeditionary Corps in the Crimean War, where they were involved in the Siege of Sevastopol and the Battle of the Cernaia. Most of the casualties were suffered due to a cholera epidemic. Their bravery at the Cernaia was widely recognized and played a key role in gaining Piedmont-Sardinia a seat in the negotiations at the war's end. For their effort in the Crimea the Bersaglieri were rewarded a red fez with a blue tassel, in honor from the French zouaves troops, with whom they served, as they watch the Bersaglieri's bravery in the battle.

When the Armata Sarda became the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army) in 1860, the existing 36 battalions were used to create six Bersaglieri regiments, which had administrative and disciplinary duties. The regiments were assigned to the army corps', with the regiment's battalions assigned to the divisions in the corps as reconnaissance units.

  •   1st Bersaglieri Regiment under I Army Corps with the I, IX, XIII, XIX, XXI and XXVII battalions
  •   2nd Bersaglieri Regiment under II Army Corps with the II, IV, X, XV, XVII and XVIII battalions
  •   3rd Bersaglieri Regiment under III Army Corps with the III, V, VIII, XX, XXIII and XXV battalions
  •   4th Bersaglieri Regiment under IV Army Corps with the VI, VII, XI, XII, XXXV and XXXVI battalions
  •   5th Bersaglieri Regiment under V Army Corps with the XIV, XVI, XXII, XXIV, XXVI and XXXIV battalions
  •   6th Bersaglieri Regiment under VI Army Corps with the XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII and XXXIII battalions

The most famous action of the Bersaglieri occurred on 20 September 1870, when the 12th Bersaglieri battalion stormed Rome through a breach created by Italian artillery in the Aurelian Walls near Porta Pia leading to the capture of Rome and end of the temporal power of the Pope, thus completing the unification of Italy. A monument was erected in 1932 in front of Porta Pia to commemorate the event at the same time as the National Museum of the Bersaglieri corps was moved to Porta Pia, where it resides still today.

In 1871, the Bersaglieri corps added another four battalions and the regiments were increased from six to 10 and given also operational command of the battalions. In 1883 a further two regiments were added for a total of 12 Bersaglieri regiments, one for each army corps with three battalions per regiment. Therefore, the four battalions raised in 1871 were disbanded.

  •   1st Bersaglieri Regiment under I Army Corps with the I, VII and IX battalions
  •   2nd Bersaglieri Regiment under II Army Corps with the II, IV, and XVII battalions
  •   3rd Bersaglieri Regiment under III Army Corps with the XVIII, XX, and XXV battalions
  •   4th Bersaglieri Regiment under IV Army Corps with the XXVI, XXIX and XXXI battalions
  •   5th Bersaglieri Regiment under V Army Corps with the XIV, XXII and XXIV battalions
  •   6th Bersaglieri Regiment under VI Army Corps with the VI, XIII and XIX battalions
  •   7th Bersaglieri Regiment under VII Army Corps with the VIII, X and XI battalions
  •   8th Bersaglieri Regiment under VIII Army Corps with the III, V and XII battalions
  •   9th Bersaglieri Regiment under IX Army Corps with the XXVIII, XXX and XXXII battalions
  • 10th Bersaglieri Regiment under X Army Corps with the XVI, XXXIV and XXXV battalions
  •   11th Bersaglieri Regiment under XI Army Corps with the XV, XXVII and XXXIII battalions
  •   12th Bersaglieri Regiment under XII Army Corps with the XXI, XXIII and XXXVI battalions

World War IEdit

 
'AVANTI ITALIA!': The War Illustrated, Vol.5, No.106, Aug., 1916

During World War I, the 12 Bersaglieri regiments were augmented by nine raised regiments and fought with distinction on the Italian Front. Of the 210,000 members of Bersaglieri regiments, 32,000 were killed and 50,000 wounded during the war. Italy's last surviving World War I veteran, Delfino Borroni, was a member of the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment from Bologna. Another member who served as Bersagliere on the front (and was wounded) was Benito Mussolini.

A contingent of Bersaglieri drawn from the autonomous battalions of the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment was sent to participate in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in 1917, where they were attached to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force commanded by General Edmund Allenby. Their "mainly political" role was to assert "hereditary ecclesiastical prerogatives in connection with the Christian churches at Jerusalem and Bethlehem."[2]

Peacetime regimentsEdit

At the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 the Bersaglieri corps consisted of 12 regiments of three battalions on foot, and one cyclists battalion each. Each regiment also contained a machine gun section with two machine guns. The battalions on foot consisted of three companies of 250 men each, while the cyclist battalions consisted of three companies of 150 men each. Additionally each cyclists battalion had its own machine gun section with two machine guns.[3] Between the outbreak of the war and the Italian declaration of war on 23 May 1915 the Italian army was forced to send the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment and five battalions from other Bersaglieri regiments to Libya as the local population fiercely resisted the Italian occupation. On 29 December 1914 the army sent the 10th Bersaglieri Regiment to Albania, which was in turmoil after its freshly installed ruler William, Prince of Albania had fled the country in September 1914. Already since 4 May 1912 two battalions of the 4th Bersaglieri Regiment were in Rhodes to garrison the newly conquered Italian Islands of the Aegean.[4][5]

With war imminent the army began to raise new Bersaglieri battalions to replace the battalions deployed overseas and on 8 April 1915 the 10th bis Bersaglieri Regiment was formed to replace the 10th deployed in Albania. Starting in January 1915 additional battalions were raised starting, which remained autonomous and were not integrated in an existing regiment. When hostilities commended the Bersaglieri consisted of:[3]

  • 13 regiments (one in Libya, one in Albania, eleven in Italy)
  • 55 battalions on foot (41 grouped in 13 regiments (two deployed to Rhodes); 14 autonomous battalions, of which seven in Libya and seven at the Italian Front)
  • 12 cyclist battalions

On 10 January 1916 the High Command ordered to increase all Bersaglieri battalions on foot by one company. The battalions deployed to Libya were exempt. Later that spring the Bersaglieri companies of the battalions on foot were reduced from 250 to 225 men, but in turn each battalion received its own machine gun section with two machine guns, a submachine-gun section with two Villar Perosa submachine guns, and a Sapper unit with 88 men. On 3 March 1916 the regimental command of the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment was disbanded and its battalions became autonomous.[3]

At the end of 1916 the Bersaglieri fielded:[3][6]

  • 15 regiments (one in Albania, 14 in Italy)
  • 48 battalions on foot (45 grouped in 15 regiments and three autonomous battalions). Each of these battalions consisted of four companies of 225 men each, a sapper unit, a machine gun section, and two submachine-gun sections.
  • 15 autonomous battalions on foot (two deployed to Rhodes, thirteen in Libya). Each of these battalions consisted of three companies of 250 men each and a machine gun section.
  • 12 cyclist battalions, each with three companies of 150 men and a machine gun section.

Early in 1917 each battalion in Italy received a second submachine-gun section and in May the battalions were thoroughly reorganized: the machine gun sections of each battalion were increased to a machine gun company with six machine guns, while the battalion's 4th companies were group in independent "marching" battalions (Battaglione di Marcia), which acted as personnel reserve for the armies deployed to the front.[6]

After the defeat at Caporetto the Italian army was forced to retreat from the Isonzo river to the Piave river. During the retreat four Bersaglieri regiments and three autonomous battalions were so badly mauled that they had to be disbanded: besides the wartime regiments 15 and 21, also the peacetime regiments 4 and 9 were disbanded.[7] Thus at the end of 1917 the Bersaglieri corps consisted of:[6]

  • 16 regiments (one in Albania, 15 in Italy)
  • 48 battalions on foot (grouped in 16 regiments). Each of these battalions consisted of three companies of 225 men each, a machine gun company, a sapper unit, and two submachine-gun sections.
  • 15 autonomous battalions on foot (two deployed to Rhodes, ten in Libya). Each of these battalions consisted of three companies of 250 men each and a machine gun section.
  • 12 cyclist battalions, each with three companies of 150 men and a machine gun section.

After the Battle of Caporetto the Chief of Staff of the Italian Army Luigi Cadorna was finally dismissed and replaced by Armando Diaz. Diaz reorganized the army and ordered the Bersaglieri battalions to be reorganized: the companies on foot were reduced to 150 men in three platoons - two of infantry and one of sappers and combat support troops. At the same the machine gun companies were increased to eight machine guns, and the submachine-gun sections increased to three and attached to the companies. Each battalion also received a Stokes mortar section, while each regiment received a flamethrower section and a "reparto cannoncini d'accompagnamento" (loosely translated: small accompaniment cannons unit), with Italian copies of the Austrian 3.7cm Infantry Gun M.15.[8][9] Additionally the command of the 16th Bersaglieri Regiment was disbanded and its battalions became autonomous, six of the autonomous battalions deployed to Libya were ordered to return and reorganized as the other battalions on the Italian front. The cyclist battalions were also reorganized (see the "Cyclist Battalions" section here below).[8]

At the onset of the last offensive of the war the Bersaglieri consisted of:

  • 15 regiments (one in Albania, 14 in Italy)
  • 45 battalions on foot (grouped in 15 regiments). Each of these battalions consisted of three companies of 150 men each, a machine gun company, three submachine-gun sections, and a Stokes mortar section.
  • 12 autonomous battalions on foot (two deployed to Rhodes, four in Libya, and six battalions assigned to the two divisions of the Assault Army Corps. The overseas battalions consisted of three companies of 250 men each and a machine gun section, while the six battalions of the Assault Army Corps were organized as the regimental battalions.
  • 8 cyclist battalions, each with three companies of 150 men and a machine gun section (six in two groups and attached to cavalry divisions, and two assigned to the Assault Army Corps)[8]
Peacetime regiments
Regiment Battalions Based in Notes Battles
1st Bersaglieri[10][11][12] I 
VII 
IX 
I Cyc. 
Naples Regiment (without the I Cyclists Btn.) deployed in Libya
Regimental command disbanded 3 March 1916; battalions became autonomous

Regiment raised the:

21st Bersaglieri Regiment
LV Autonomous Battalion
I, VII, IX battalions:
19 May 1915: arrived in Libya
28 May 1918: returned to Italy
29 June 1918: entered 1st Assault Div.
1918: Battle of Vittorio Veneto: Sernaglia

I Cyclists:

1915: Fogliano, Monte Sei Busi, Sella San Martino
1916: Trincea delle Frasche, Asiago, Coston di Lora, Monte Pasubio, Monte Fior, Marcesina
1917: Castagnevizza, Piave, Forcella Muis, Forcella Campidello, Lestans, Sequals
1918: Caposile, Fossalta, Capo d'Argine, Monte Castellazzo, Vittorio Veneto
2nd Bersaglieri[13][14] (II)
IV
XVII
LIII
II Cyc. 
Rome 29 Aug. 1918: VII Bersaglieri Bde.[15]
II Btn. in Libya
24 June 1918: II Cyclists disbanded

Regiment raised the:

14th Bersaglieri Regiment
LIII Btn. (to replace II Btn.)
LIV Autonomous Battalion
LXI Btn. (for the 14th Rgt.)
LXIV Btn. (for the 17th Rgt.)
XXVI Assault Battalion
1915: Monte Coston, Costa d'Agra, Monte Maronia, Val di Sole
1916: Plezzo, Oslavia, Zaibena, Nad Logem, Monte Kuk
1917 Monte Santo, Monte Mrzli, Monte Pleca, Kamno, Monte Stol, Sequals, Piave
1918: Montello, Vittorio Veneto: Paradiso
3rd Bersaglieri[16][17][18] XVIII
XX
XXV
III Cyc.  
Livorno 29 Aug. 1918: VII Bersaglieri Bde.[15]

Regiment raised the:

13th Bersaglieri Regiment
XL Btn. (for the 14th Rgt.)
LX Btn. (for the 13th Rgt.)
LXV Btn. (for the 17th Rgt.)
1915: Col di Lana, Carso: Vermegliano, Monte Sei Busi
1916: Selz: quota 70 - Monte Sief, Piccolo Colbricon, Val Cismon, Carso: Monfalcone, quota 85, Jamiano, quota 144
1917 Carso: Flondar, Monte Ermada - Monfenera, Piave: Zenson, Ponte di Pinzano
1918: Monte Costalunga, 2nd Piave: Fosso Gorgazzo, Fossalta, Meolo - Vittorio Veneto: Serravalle, Fadalto Pass, Pieve di Cadore
4th Bersaglieri[4][5]  (XXVI)
XXIX
(XXXI)
XXXVII
XLIII
IV Cyc. 
Turin 8 June - 7 Nov. 1917: V Bersaglieri Bde.[19]
XXVI Btn. and XXXI Btn. in Rhodes
9 Dec. 1917: Rgt. disbanded[7] (Caporetto)

Regiment raised the:

19th Bersaglieri Regiment
20th Bersaglieri Regiment
XXXVII Btn. (to replace XXXI Btn.)
XLI Autonomous Battalion
XLII Autonomous Battalion

Regiment received the XLIII Btn. from the 9th Rgt. as replacement for the XXVI Btn.

1915: Isonzo: Ajba - St. Lucia di Tolmino
1916: St. Maria di Tolmino, Monte Mrzli, Zagora, Monfalcone, quota 85
1917: Bodrez, Semmer, Monte Fratta, Bainsizza: Ossoiuka, Oscedrilk, Monte Globokak, Monte Badenecche, Monte Tonderecar
1918: Monfenera, San Bartolomeo di Piave, Molino Novo, Grave di Papadopoli, Vittorio Veneto: Maniago, Flagogna, Tolmezzo
5th Bersaglieri[20][21]  XIV
(XXII)
XXIV
XLVI
V Cyc. 
Sanremo 1 March 1918: V Bersaglieri Bde.[19]
XXII Btn. in Libya
Regiment raised the:
XLVI Btn. (to replace XXII Btn.)
XLVII Autonomous Battalion
LXXII Assault Battalion
1915: Isonzo: Santa Lucia, Alture di Polazzo - Monte Mrzli
1916: Isonzo: Dolje, Monte Mrzli, Monte Vodil - Asiago: Monte Lemerle, Magnaboschi, Kaberlaba - Carso: Monfalcone, quota 85, quota 121, Nova Vas, quota 208, Jamiano, quota 144
1917: Monte Gallio, Monte Sisemol, Monte Melago, Col del Rosso
1918: Monte Valbella, Sernaglia
6th Bersaglieri[22][23][24]  VI
XIII
XIX
VI Cyc.
Bologna 15 Feb. 1916: I Bersaglieri Bde.[25]
24 June 1918: VI Cyclists disbanded

Regiment raised the:

15th Bersaglieri Regiment
XLIX Autonomous Battalion
L Autonomous Battalion
1915: Plezzo
1916: Carso: Veliki Hribach, Pecinka, quota 308
1917: Isonzo: Monte Vodice - Bainsizza: Semmer, Oscedrilk, quota 808 - Monte Globokak, Pradamano, Monte Tonderecar
1918: Monte Cornone: Sasso Rosso
7th Bersaglieri[26][27][28]  VIII
X
(XI)
XLIV
VII Cyc. 
Brescia 6 Nov. 1916: II Bersaglieri Bde.[29]
XI Btn. in Libya
Regiment raised the:
XLIV Btn. (to replace XI Btn.)
XLV Autonomous Battalion
all Fiat–Revelli Modello 1914 equipped Bersaglieri Machine Gunner Companies
1915: Val di Ledro: Bezzecca, Monte Vies
1916-17 Carso: Jamiano, quota 144, Flondar
1918: 2nd Piave, Vittorio Veneto, Occupation of Triest
8th Bersaglieri[30][31][32]  (III)
V
XII
XXXVIII
VIII Cyc. 
Verona 1 June 1918: VI Bersaglieri Bde.[33]
III Battalion:
until 28 May 1918 in Libya
29 June 1918: entered 2nd Assault Div.

Regiment raised the:

XXXVIII Btn. (to replace III Btn.)
XLVIII Autonomous Battalion
XXII Assault Battalion 
1915-17: Cadore
Candelù, Fagarè, Caserta island (Piave river), Vittorio Veneto: Piave, Livenza, Tagliamento, Ariis, Paradiso
9th Bersaglieri[34][35] XXVIII
XXX
XXXII
IX Cyc.
Asti 11 Feb. - 6 Nov. 1916: II Bersaglieri Bde.[29]
28 Nov. 1917: Rgt. disbanded[7] (Caporetto)
24 June 1918: X Cyclists disbanded

Regiment raised the:

16th Bersaglieri Regiment
XLIII Btn. (as replacement for the XXVI Btn. of the 4th Rgt.)
LIX Btn. (for the 13th Rgt.)
Regiment:
1915: Plezzo, Oslavia
1916: Oslavia, Monte Zebio, Monte Colombara, Carso: Nad Logem, Gorizia
1917: Monte Ermada, Monte Ortigara, Monte Forno, Agnello Pass, Monte Pleca, Monte Kozliak, Monte Carnizza

IX Cyclists:

1918: 2nd Piave
10th Bersaglieri[36][37] XVI
XXXIV
XXXV
X Cyc.
Palermo 29 Dec. 1914: Rgt. deployed to Albania
24 June 1918: X Cyclists disbanded

Regiment raised the:

16th Bersaglieri Regiment
LVII Btn. (for the 16th Rgt.)
LVIII Btn. (for the 16th Rgt.)
LXIII Btn. (for the 16th Rgt.)
LXIX Btn. (for the 18th Rgt.)
Regiment:
1915-1918 Albania

X Cyclists:

1915: Canina
1916: Forcella Omladet
1917: Monte Santo, Bainsizza, Valsugana, Monte Tomba Cormons, Santa Lucia di Polcenigo
1918: Fagarè, Fossalta, Scolo Palumbo
11th Bersaglieri[38][39][40]  (XV)
XXVII
XXXIII
XXXIX
XI Cyc.[41]   
Naples 11 Feb. 1916: II Bersaglieri Bde.[29]
XV Battalion:
until 28 May 1918 in Libya
9 July 1918: entered 2nd Assault Div.

Regiment raised the:

17th Bersaglieri Regiment
XXXIX Btn. (to replace XV Btn.)
LI Autonomous Battalion
LXVI Btn. (for the 17th Rgt.)
LXVII Btn. (for the 18th Rgt.)
Regiment:
1915: Carso: Monte San Michele, Plezzo, Monte Javorcek
1916: Monfalcone: quota 85, quota 93, quota 144
1917: Carso: Jamiano, Flondar - Monte Piana, Mauria Pass
1918: Stretta di Serravalle, Revine Lago, Occupation of Triest

XI Cyclists:

1915: Gradisca, Lucinico, Monte San Michele
1916: Vermegliano, Cave di Sels, Monfalcone
1917: Doberdò, Flondar, Sella Nevea, Forcella la Croce, Monfenera
1918: 2nd Piave, Monte Grappa, Revine Lago
12th Bersaglieri[42][43][44]   XXI
XXIII
XXXVI
XII Cyc.
Milan 15 Feb. 1916: I Bersaglieri Bde.[25]

Regiment raised the:

18th Bersaglieri Regiment
LII Autonomous Battalion
LVI Autonomous Battalion
LXVIII Btn. (for the 18th Rgt.)
1915: Monte Mrzli, Monte Sleme
1916: Carso: Veliki Hribach, Pecinka, quota 308, Vippacco
1917: Isonzo: Monte Vodice - Bainsizza: Semmer, Oscedrilk - Monte Globokak, Pradamano, Melette di Gallio
1918: Val Frenzela: Pizzo Razzea - Vittorio Veneto

Regiments raised during the warEdit

At the outbreak of the war the army fielded 13 Bersaglieri regiments: the twelve peacetime regiments and the 10th bis Bersaglieri Regiment, which had been raised with new battalions on 8 April 1915 to replace the 10th Bersaglieri Regiment sent to Vlorë in Albania on 29 December 1914. During 1915 two more regiments were raised; the 1st bis Bersaglieri Regiment with three autonomous battalions and then 13th Bersaglieri Regiment with three new battalions:[3]

  • 8 April 1915: 10th bis Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 8 June - 25th June 1915: 13th Provisional Bersaglieri Regiment. The regiment was formed from new battalions and meant to replace the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment deployed to Libya, but it became never operational, and upon reaching the front the regiment was disbanded and its battalions became autonomous.
  • 24 September 1915: 1st bis Bersaglieri Regiment, formed from the three autonomous of the short-lived 13th Provisional Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 22 November 1915: 13th Bersaglieri Regiment

On 5 January 1916 the 1st bis Bersaglieri Regiment changed its name and became the 15th Bersaglieri Regiment, while on the same date the 10th bis Bersaglieri Regiment changed its name and became 16th Bersaglieri Regiment. During 1916 only one new regiment was raised: the 14th Bersaglieri Regiment on 11 March with two newly formed and one autonomous battalion.[3]

In 1917 the army raised five new Bersaglieri regiments: the 17th and 18th regiments with newly raised battalions, the 19th regiment with three autonomous battalions, and the 20th and 21st regiments with reserve battalions.[6]

  • 31 Jan. 1917: 18th Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 6 Feb. 1917: 17th Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 15 Feb. 1917: 19th Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 1 April 1917: 20th Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 27 April 1917: 21st Bersaglieri Regiment

Due to the defeat at the Battle of Caporetto the army was forced to disbanded the 15th and the 21st Bersaglieri regiments with their battalions in November 1917. In 1918 the command of the 16th Bersaglieri Regiment was disbanded and its three battalions became autonomous.[6][7]

After the war four of the regiments raised for the conflict were disbanded (13th, 14th, 17th, 18th), while the 19th Bersaglieri Regiment was renamed 4th Bersaglieri Regiment, and the 20th Bersaglieri Regiment was renamed 9th Bersaglieri Regiment. Of the nine regiments raised during the war none, except for 18th Bersaglieri Regiment, was ever activated again. The 18th was active again from 1 April 1935 until the 31 December 1936, from 1 February 1942 until 8 September 1943, and for the last time from 10 September 1993 until 1 January 2005.[45]

Regiments raised during the war
Regiment Battalions Raised on
Raised by
Notes Battles
13th Bersaglieri[46][47]  LIX
LX
LXII
22 Nov. 1915
3rd Ber. LX
9th Ber. LXI
11th Ber. LXII
1 Jan. 1918: VI Bersaglieri Bde.[33]
1919: disbanded
1916: Alpi di Fassa
1917: Monte Pertica, Monte Grappa
1918: Caposile, Candelù, Breda, Cima Ninni, Vittorio Veneto: Grave di Papadopoli
14th Bersaglieri[48][49]  XL
LIV
LXI
11 March 1916
2nd Ber. LIV, LXI
3rd Ber. XL
Raised from two new (XL, LXI) and one autonomous battalion (LIV)
1 April 1917: IV Bersaglieri Bde.[50]
12 April 1919: Rgt. disbanded
1916: San Michele, Asiago, Marcesina, Monte Zebio
1917: Val d'Astico, Val Posina, Borgo, Luico, Monte Sisemol
1918: Monte Valbella, 2nd Piave, Vittorio Veneto: Trento
15th Bersaglieri[51][52]  XLIX
L
LI
5 Jan. 1916
6th Ber. XLIX, L
11th Ber. LI
Raised from three autonomous battalions:
XLIX Btn. raised Jan. 1915
L Btn. raised Jan. 1915
LI Btn. raised 1915

24 Sep. 1915 - 5 Jan. 1916:

1st bis Bersaglieri Rgt.

7 Nov. 1917: Rgt. disbanded[7] (Caporetto)

1915: Redipuglia, Third Isonzo: Trincea delle Frasche
1916: Monfalcone, Monte Sei Busi, Doberdò, Jamiano: quota 208 sud
1917: Caporetto
16th Bersaglieri[53][54] LVII
LVIII
LXIII 
5 Jan. 1916
10th Bersaglieri
8 April 1915 - 5 Jan. 1916:
10th bis Bersaglieri Rgt. with
XVI bis, XXXIV bis, XXXV bis

7 March 1918: Rgt. disbanded and
battalions transferred to other units

1915: Monte Mrzli, Monte Vodil
1916: Pal Piccolo
1917: Ampezzano, Monte Iof, Meduna river
17th Bersaglieri[55][56]  LXIV
LXV
LXVI
6 Feb. 1917
2nd Ber. LXIV
3rd Ber. LXV
11th Ber. LXVI
6 Feb. 1917: III Bersaglieri Bde.[57]
March 1919: Rgt. disbanded
1917: Valsugana, Castagnevizza, Tagliamento: Bridge of Madrisio, Piave: Cà Lunga
1918: Cavazuccherina, Cortellazzo, Vittorio Veneto: Giudicarie
18th Bersaglieri[58][59][45]  LXVII
LXVIII
LXIX
31 Jan. 1917
10th Ber. LXIX
11th Ber. LXVII
12th Ber. LXVIII
6 Feb. 1917: III Bersaglieri Bde.[57]
31 Dec. 1919: Rgt. disbanded
1917: Castagnevizza: quota 244, Piave: Fagarè, Cà Lunga
1918: 2nd Piave, Vittorio Veneto: Castel Romano/Val Chiese
19th Bersaglieri[60][61] XLI
XLII
XLV
15 Feb. 1917
4th Ber. XLI, XLII
7th Ber. XLV
Raised from three autonomous battalions:
XLI Btn. raised 7 Jan. 1915
XLII Btn. raised 22 Feb. 1915
XLV Btn. raised 19 May 1915

1 March 1918: V Bersaglieri Bde.[19]
11 Jan. 1919: renamed 4th Bersaglieri

1915:
XLI Btn: Monte Maronia, Monte Plan
XLII Btn: Loppio
XLV Btn: Val Chiese: Monte Merlino

1916:

XLI Btn: Cima Cece, Cima Valmaggiore, Nova Vas
XLII Btn: Mori, Malga Zugna
XLV Btn: Coste di Salò, Monfalcone

1917: Val Degano, Longarone
1918: Cima Tre Pezzi, Vittorio Veneto: Piave crossing

20th Bersaglieri[62][63] LXX
LXXI
LXXII
1 April 1917
4th Bersaglieri
Raised from the II, IV, VI Bersaglieri reserve battalions
1 April 1917: IV Bersaglieri Bde.[50]
20 Feb. 1919: renamed 9th Bersaglieri
1917: Carzano, Lunico, Monte Sisemol
1918: Monte Valbella, Monte Maio, Vittorio Veneto: Passo Borcola, Monte Maggio
21st Bersaglieri[64][65]  LXXIII
LXXIV
LXXV
27 April 1917
1st Bersaglieri
Raised from the VII, X, XI Bersaglieri reserve battalions
18 June 1917: V Bersaglieri Bde.[19]
7 Nov. 1917: Rgt. disbanded[7] (Caporetto)
1917: Plava: Monte Kuk/Monte Vodice, Bainsizza: Fratta, Semmer, quota 898 - Monte Globokak

Cyclist BattalionsEdit

The twelve cyclist battalions of the peacetime regiments had been raised in 1910. Each consisted of three companies of 150 men, and a machine gun section with two machine guns.[3] For the duration of the war the cyclists battalions operated independently from their regiments and were assigned as needed to higher commands. On various occasions Bersaglieri Cyclist Battalion Groups were formed, but only after the Battle of Caporetto forced the Italian army to retreat from the Isonzo front, during which the cyclist battalions served as rearguard[66], did the army institute permanent cyclist groups. These four groups were officially instituted on 15 January 1918 and each fielded three cyclist battalions and formed initially the mobile reserve of the Third Army on the lower Piave river:[66]

  • 1st Group: IV, V, XII cyclist battalions
  • 2nd Group: II, X, XI cyclist battalions
  • 3rd Group: I, VII, VIII cyclist battalions
  • 4th Group: III, VI, IX cyclist battalions

In April and May 1918 the 1st and 2nd Group were assigned to the 1st, respectively the 7th Army to defend the Western, respectively the Eastern shore of Lake Garda from possible Austro-Hungarian amphibious landings. By June all four groups had returned to the 3rd Army and were assigned to the army's corps as mobile reserve (1st Group to XI Corps, 2nd Group to XXVIII Corps, 3rd Group as army reserve, 4th Group to XXIII Corps).[66]

On 24 June 1918 the 2nd and 4th group and the II, VI, IX, and X battalions were disbanded and with their troops the Cyclist Assault Reserve Battalion formed. This battalion was assigned to the Assault Army Corps (Corpo d'Armata d'Assalto), which consisted of Bersaglieri and Arditi troops. The surviving III and XI cyclist battalions were assigned to 1st, respectively the 2nd Assault Division of the same carmy corps. The two remaining groups, the 1st and 3rd, left the 3rd Army on 16 October 1918 and were assigned for the last offensive of the war to the 1st, respectively 4th Cavalry division.[9]

Autonomous BattalionsEdit

During World War 1 the Bersaglieri regiments raised a number of battalions, which were not attached to a regiment and designated as "autonomous battalions". At the same time seven battalions of pre-war regiments, which were deployed to the Italian colonies, became autonomous and were replaced in their regiments by newly raised battalions. The 1st Bersaglieri Regiment was deployed to Italian Libya and its three battalions became autonomous in February 1916 when the regimental command returned to the mainland. Of the autonomous battalions raised during the war only the LII and LV battalions remaining autonomous and active for the entire duration of the conflict.

Autonomous Battalions
Battalion Raised on
Raised by
Deployed to Notes
XLI Battalion[60][61] 7 Jan. 1915
4th Bersaglieri
Italian Front 15 Feb. 1917: entered 19th Bersaglieri
XLII Battalion[60][61] 22 Feb. 1915
4th Bersaglieri
Italian Front
XLV Battalion[60][61] 19 May 1915
7th Bersaglieri
Italian Front
XLVII Battalion[67] 1 Feb. 1915
5th Bersaglieri
Italian Front 18 Nov. 1917: disbanded (Caporetto)
XLVIII Battalion[68] 6 Feb. 1915
8th Bersaglieri
Italian Front 10 Nov. 1917: destroyed (Caporetto)
XLIX Battalion[51][52] Jan. 1915
6th Bersaglieri
Italian Front 5 Jan. 1916: entered 15th Bersaglieri
L Battalion[51][52] Jan. 1915
6th Bersaglieri
Italian Front
LI Battalion[51][52] 1915
11th Bersaglieri
Italian Front
LII Battalion[69] Jan. 1915
12th Bersaglieri
Libya
LIV Battalion[48][49] 1915
2nd Bersaglieri
Italian Front 11 March 1916: 14th Bersaglieri Rgt.
LV Battalion[70] 5 Jan. 1915
1st Bersaglieri
1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
In Libya until 31 May 1918, returned to Italy and entered 6th Group/2nd Assault Division
LVI Battalion[71] 17 Jan. 1915
12th Bersaglieri
Italian Front 18 Nov. 1917: disbanded (Caporetto)

During the war a number of battalions of existing regiments became autonomous either for geographic reasons (battalion deployed to the colonies) or organizational reasons (regimental command disbanded). The following table gives an overview of these battalions:

Temporarily Autonomous Battalions
Battalion Regiment Deployed to Notes
I Battalion[10][11] 1st Bersaglieri 1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
24 Feb. 1916: 1st Bersaglieri Regiment disbanded and battalion became autonomous
28 May 1918: returned to Italy
29 June 1918: entered 1st Group/1st Assault Div.
II Battalion[13][14] 2nd Bersaglieri Libya Battalion fighting rebels in Libya since 15 Feb. 1915.
Replaced in the regiment by the LIII battalion.
III Battalion[30][31] 8th Bersaglieri 1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
Battalion fighting rebels in Libya until 28 May 1918
Replaced in the regiment by the XXXVIII battalion.
29 June 1918: battalion entered 4th Group/2nd Assault Div.
VII Battalion[10][11] 1st Bersaglieri 1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
24 Feb. 1916: 1st Bersaglieri Regiment disbanded and battalion became autonomous
28 May 1918: returned to Italy
29 June 1918: entered 2nd Group/1st Assault Div.
IX Battalion[10][11] 1st Bersaglieri 1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
24 Feb. 1916: 1st Bersaglieri Regiment disbanded and battalion became autonomous
28 May 1918: returned to Italy
29 June 1918: entered 3rd Group/1st Assault Div.
XI Battalion[26][27] 7th Bersaglieri Libya Battalion fighting rebels in Libya since 11 Feb. 1915.
Replaced in the regiment by the XLIV battalion.
XV Battalion[38][39] 11th Bersaglieri 1915-18: Libya
1918: Italian Front
Battalion fighting rebels in Libya from 4 Jan. 1915 until 28 May 1918
Replaced in the regiment by the XXXIX battalion.
29 June 1918: battalion entered 5th Group/2nd Assault Div.
XXII Battalion[20][21] 5th Bersaglieri Libya Battalion fighting rebels in Libya since 15 Feb. 1915.
Replaced in the regiment by the XLVI battalion.
XXVI Battalion[4][5] 4th Bersaglieri Rhodes Battalions on garrison duty in Rhodes since 12 May 1912.
Replaced in the regiment by the XLIII, respectively XXXVII battalion.
XXXI Battalion[4][5]
LVII Battalion[53][54] 16th Bersaglieri Italian Front 7 March 1918: 16th Bersaglieri Regiment disbanded and its battalions became autonomous
LVIII Battalion[53][54]
LXIII Battalion[53][54]

Machine Gunner CompaniesEdit

At the outbreak of war each infantry and Bersaglieri battalion of the Italian Army fielded one machine gun section with two Maxim 1911 machine guns carried by horses. After the outbreak of the war this proved quickly to be inadequate and in spring 1916 the army began to raise dedicated machine gunner companies (Compagnia Mitraglieri). These companies were attached to brigades, divisions and army corps, which deployed them with tactical units (regiments, battalions, companies) as needed. 2,277 Machine Gunner companies were raised and numbered continuously. The Bersaglieri depots raised 31 companies equipped with six St. Étienne Mle 1907 machine guns each, and 84 companies equipped with six Fiat–Revelli Modello 1914 machine guns each.[72]

Special Bersaglieri DivisionEdit

At the outbreak of war seven Bersaglieri regiments were assigned to divisions or army corps, while four Bersaglieri regiments formed on 20 May 1915 the Special Bersaglieri Division (Divisione Speciale Bersaglieri). The four regiments were joined by IV Mountain Artillery Group of the 1st Mountain Artillery Regiment and minor support units. On 11 February 1916 the four regiments were grouped together in two brigades: the I Bersaglieri Brigade consisted of the 6th and 12th Bersaglieri regiments, while the II Bersaglieri Brigade consisted of the 9th and 11th Bersaglieri regiments. After not even a year of existence the division is transformed on 5 March 1915 into a standard infantry division and the two Bersaglieri brigades are attached like the regiments to divisions and army corps as needed.[73]

Division Regiment Battalions Notes
Special Bersaglieri Division
(Divisione Speciale Bersaglieri)
6th Bersaglieri Regiment VI Battalion
XIII Battalion
XIX Battalion
11 Feb. 1916: formed the I Bersaglieri Brigade with the 12th Bersaglieri Regiment
9th Bersaglieri Regiment XXVIII Battalion
XXX Battalion
XXXII Battalion
11 Feb. 1916: formed the II Bersaglieri Brigade
11th Bersaglieri Regiment XXVII Battalion
XXXIII Battalion
XXXIX Battalion
12th Bersaglieri Regiment XXI Battalion
XXIII Battalion
XXXVI Battalion
11 Feb. 1916: formed the I Bersaglieri Brigade with the 6th Bersaglieri Regiment
IV Mountain Artillery Group 1st Mountain Artillery Regiment

Bersaglieri BrigadesEdit

After the Special Bersaglieri Division had been disbanded the two Bersaglieri brigades were attached to higher commands as needed. On 6th November 1916 the 7th Bersaglieri Regiment replaced the 9th Bersaglieri Regiment in the II Bersaglieri Brigade, but there were no further changes to the brigades during that year.

In 1917 the army decided to activate a further three Bersaglieri brigades of two regiments each, bringing the Bersaglieri closer in line with the regular infantry, all of whose regiments were grouped together in brigades of two infantry regiments. During the year the III, IV, and V Bersaglieri brigades were raised, with respectively the 17th and 18th, 14th and 20th, and 4th and 21st regiments. However the defeat in the Battle of Caporetto led to the destruction of the V Bersaglieri Brigade, which, together with the 21st Bersaglieri Regiment, was annihilated during the retreat from the Isonzo river to the Piave river.

In 1918 the army raised the V Bersaglieri Brigade again, and added the VI and VII Bersaglieri brigades, which consisted of the 8th and 13th, respectively 2nd and 3rd Bersaglieri regiments. With this all Bersaglieri regiments in Italy were now assigned to one of the seven Bersaglieri brigades.

Brigade Regiment Battalions Notes
I Bersaglieri Brigade[25] 6th Bersaglieri Regiment VI Battalion
XIII Battalion
XIX Battalion
formed 11 Feb. 1916
12th Bersaglieri Regiment XXI Battalion
XXIII Battalion
XXXVI Battalion
II Bersaglieri Brigade[29] 7th Bersaglieri Regiment VIII Battalion
X Battalion
XLIV Battalion
formed 11 Feb. 1916 with the 9th and 11th Bersaglieri regiments
9th Regiment replaced by the 7th Regiment on 6 Nov. 1916
11th Bersaglieri Regiment XXVII Battalion
XXXIII Battalion
XXXIX Battalion
III Bersaglieri Brigade[57] 17th Bersaglieri Regiment LXIV Battalion
LXV Battalion
LXVI Battalion
formed 18 March 1917
18th Bersaglieri Regiment LXVII Battalion
LXVIII Battalion
LXIX Battalion
IV Bersaglieri Brigade[50] 14th Bersaglieri Regiment XL Battalion
LIV Battalion
LXI Battalion
formed 1 April 1917
20th Bersaglieri Regiment LXX Battalion
LXXI Battalion
LXXII Battalion
V Bersaglieri Brigade[19]
(1st formation)
4th Bersaglieri Regiment XXIX Battalion
XXXVII Battalion
XLIII Battalion
formed 18 June 1917
destroyed 7 Nov. 1917[7]
21st Bersaglieri Regiment LXXIII Battalion
LXXIV Battalion
LXXV Battalion
V Bersaglieri Brigade[19]
(2nd formation)
5th Bersaglieri Regiment XIV Battalion
XXIV Battalion
XLVI Battalion
formed 1 March 1918
19th Bersaglieri Regiment XLI Battalion
XLII Battalion
XLV Battalion
VI Bersaglieri Brigade[33] 8th Bersaglieri Regiment V Battalion
XII Battalion
XXXVIII Battalion
formed 1 June 1918
13th Bersaglieri Regiment LIX Battalion
LX Battalion
LXII Battalion
VII Bersaglieri Brigade[15] 2nd Bersaglieri Regiment IV Battalion
XVII Battalion
LIII Battalion
formed 29 August 1918
3rd Bersaglieri Regiment XVIII Battalion
XX Battalion
XXV Battalion

Assault DivisionsEdit

At the end of 1915 each infantry regiment the Italian Army began to create Arditi platoons modeled after the German Stormtroopers. These units remained a regimental asset until 1917 when the 2nd Army on its own initiative an Arditi school in Sdricca di Manzano. The first unit raised from volunteers was officially activated with a live-fire exercise in front of King Victor Emmanuel III on 29 July 1917. Named I Assault Battalion (I Reparto d'Assalto) the successful exercise led to the creation of a second battalion, with both units having their baptism of fire during the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo on the Banjšice Plateau.[74]

After the success of the Arditi during the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo all armies were ordered to raise Arditi battalions. However each army raised and employed these battalions in different ways and only after the disastrous Battle of Caporetto did the Italian High Command take control of the formation and use of the Arditi units. Each army corps was to receive an Assault Battalion consisting of three Arditi companies, three machine gun sections, six machine pistol section, and six flamethrower sections. The Bersaglieri raised three Assault battalions.[74]

On 10 June 1918 the I Assault Division was created with three groupings of three Arditi battalions each. On 25 June 1918 the II Assault Division was raised and the two division combined the form the Assault Army Corps (Corpo d'Armata d'Assalto). Each division consisted of three groupings with two assault battalions and a Bersaglieri battalion. Additionally each division fielded one Bersaglieri cyclists battalion, a cavalry squadron, a mountain artillery group, a sapper battalion, and various support units. The six Bersaglieri battalions in the groupings had been deployed to Libya until 28 May 1918. Additionally the corps fielded the Cyclist Assault Reserve Battalion formed on 24 June 1918 from the remaining men of the II, VI, IX, and X cyclist battalions.[9]

The corps's two divisions had the following structure:

Division Group Battalion Notes
1st Assault Division[75]
(1a Divisione d'Assalto)
1st Group X Assault Battalion
XX Assault Battalion
I Bersaglieri Battalion 1st Bersaglieri Regiment
2nd Group XII Assault Battalion
XIII Assault Battalion
VII Bersaglieri Battalion 1st Bersaglieri Regiment
3rd Group VIII Assault Battalion
XX Assault Battalion
IX Bersaglieri Battalion 1st Bersaglieri Regiment
III Cyclists Battalion 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment
5th Cavalry Squadron Cavalry Rgt. Piacenza (18th)
IX Mountain Artillery Group 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment
XCI Sapper Battalion
2nd Assault Division
(2a Divisione d'Assalto)
4th Group XIV Assault Battalion
XXV Assault Battalion
III Bersaglieri Battalion 8th Bersaglieri Regiment
5th Group I Assault Battalion
V Assault Battalion
XV Bersaglieri Battalion 11th Bersaglieri Regiment
6th Group VI Assault Battalion
XXX Assault Battalion
LV Bersaglieri Battalion Autonomous Battalion
XI Cyclists Battalion 11th Bersaglieri Regiment
6th Cavalry Squadron Cavalry Rgt. Piacenza (18th)
XII Mountain Artillery Group 3rd Mountain Artillery Regiment
Sapper Battalion

Geographical DistributionEdit

In 1914 the 1st Bersaglieri Regiment moved its deposit from Sanremo to Naples to be closer to its upcoming area of deployment in Libya, while the 5th Bersaglieri Regiment moved from Ancona into the vacant base at Sanremo.

 
 
1° Bersaglieri
 
2° Bersaglieri
 
3° Bersaglieri
 
4° Bersaglieri
 
5° Bersaglieri
 
6° Bersaglieri
 
7° Bers.
 
8° Bersaglieri
 
9° Bersaglieri
 
10° Bersaglieri
 
11° Bersaglieri
 
12° Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri Regiments 1914

Interwar yearsEdit

After the war the nine wartime regiments were disbanded and the number of Bersaglieri battalions in the remaining regiments reduced to two per regiment. A new role was seen for the light infantry as part of Italy’s commitment to Mobile Warfare. The post-war Bersaglieri were converted into bicycle troops to fight alongside cavalry in the Celeri (fast) divisions. Elite units with high morale and an aggressive spirit were seen as one way to break such tactical stalemates as the trench warfare of 1915-18. The Bersaglieri gave Italy highly trained formations suitable for service with both cavalry and tanks. When the armoured divisions were formed in 1939, the link between the Bersaglieri and mobile warfare continued. Each new armoured and motorised division was allocated one Bersaglieri regiment.

Interwar PeriodEdit

A single Bersaglieri regiment, the 3rd Bersagleri, took part in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in October 1935, invading from Eritrea as part of the 30th Infantry Division Sabauda under General Italo Gariboldi. There, they took part in the Christmas Offensive and the Battle of Amba Aradam, among others. The regiment was detached and sent back to Asmara in March 1936 to join a new unit, the East Africa Fast Column under Achille Starace.

World War IIEdit

Italy began the Second World War with 12 Bersaglieri regiments of three battalions each. Over the preceding years the Army had resisted suggestions to dilute their quality, and recruits continued to be of above-average size and stamina, endured intense physical training and had to qualify as marksmen. During the war an additional Bersaglieri regiment, the 18th, with three battalions was raised, but only one of its battalions saw actual combat.

The Bersaglieri fought in southern France and then in Greece, later Bersaglieri regiments were also deployed on the Eastern Front. One battalion of Bersaglieri participated in the East African Campaign.

After the Armistice of Cassibile between the Kingdom of Italy and Western Allies on 8 September 1943, Italy split in half. The Republic of Salò continued the war alongside Nazi Germany. Its Army, the fascist National Republican Army, raised the 1st "Italia" Bersaglieri Division, which was attached to the German 14th Army in a sector on the Northern Apennines. The division fought along the Gothic Line, and at the end of the final allied offensive, along with two Wehrmacht and last Italian fascist Army Divisions, surrendered after the Battle of Collecchio.[76][77][78]

On the other side of the front the Italian Co-belligerent Army raised a Bersaglieri battalion as part of the Legnano Combat Group from remnants of the 4th Bersaglieri Regiment.

Cold WarEdit

During the Cold War the Bersaglieri were exclusively employed as mechanized infantry. The Bersaglieri battalions were part of the armoured or mechanized regiments of the Army's armoured divisions, with the mechanized regiments fielding two Bersaglieri and one Tank battalion, while the tank regiments fielded two Tank and one Bersaglieri battalion. Attached to the motorized division were armoured infantry regiments, which consisted of one Tank and one Bersaglieri battalion. Without exception the Bersaglieri battalions were armed with M113 armoured personnel carriers. The only two active Bersaglieri regiments at that time were the 3rd Bersaglieri and 8th Bersaglieri Regiment in the Centauro Armoured Division and the Ariete Armoured Division respectively.

In 1975 the Army abolished the regimental level and battalions became independent under newly formed brigades. The Army formed the Goito Mechanized Brigade with the regimental command and units of the 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment and the Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade with the regimental command and units of the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment. Both brigades received one extra Bersaglieri battalion from disbanded armoured infantry regiments and both fielded only personnel - with the exception of the tank crews and artillerists - from the Bersaglieri corps.

 
Soldiers of the 2nd Bersaglieri Battalion "Governolo" on patrol with the Multinational Force in Lebanon in 1982

When the battalions became independent they received the flags and traditions of disbanded Bersaglieri regiments and each battalion was given an honorary name commemorating a significant event in which it had participated: e.g. the 3rd Bersaglieri Battalion "Cernaia" received its honorary name to commemorate the conduct of the regiment in the Battle of the Chernaya in Crimea during the Crimean War in 1855. In the following list of Bersaglieri units active in 1986, the honorary names link to the articles about the historic events for which they were awarded:

Additionally the Bersaglieri fielded five anti-tank companies, one per Bersaglieri and one per Armoured Brigade (Ariete, Centauro and Mameli Armoured Brigade).

With the end of the Cold War, the Italian army began a reduction in personnel and units which also affected the Bersaglieri. On 1 June 1991 the Goito Mechanized Brigade was disbanded, while the Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade moved to the Southern city of Caserta, as the Army had decided to reduce the number of units in the north of Italy. The Garibaldi arrived in Caserta on 1 July 1991 and changed its name to 8th Bersaglieri Brigade Garibaldi. Also in 1991, the battalions of the Army were renamed as regiments without changing composition.

Modern DayEdit

 
A Bersagliere of the NATO Response Force

While in the past the mobility of the Bersaglieri manifested itself in running and the use of bicycles, regiments currently in service are all mechanised.

The modern Bersaglieri have served, as part of the Garibaldi Bersaglieri Brigade, as peacekeepers in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, and in Yugoslav and Somali Civil Wars, and were also active in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bersaglieri traditions are still stressed. The Bersaglieri collar patches are crimson-red "flames". Enlisted troops still wear the red fez. Officers wear black berets with their ordinary uniforms, but the feathered "vaira" in ceremonial uniform. They also wear black gloves, while other Italian regiments wear white ones. Each Bersaglieri unit had a band called a "fanfara", who played their instruments at the run while on parade. The "fanfara" does not contain percussion instruments. Today only the Garibaldi Brigade, Ariete Brigade and 7th Bersaglieri regiment retain a "fanfara". The 1953 movie Roman Holiday (starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck) includes a film clip of a Bersaglieri fanfara as part of a military parade in the early part of the picture.

The 1st, 8th and 11th Bersaglieri regiments serve in their traditional role as tracked mechanized infantry in the army's two heavy brigades, while the 3rd, 6th and 7th Bersaglieri regiments are the third manoeuvre element in wheeled mechanized infantry brigades.

Bugle callsEdit

 
The Bersaglieri Bugles during a Tattoo in 2006.

In mid-1800 the Bersaglieri were born as light infantry sharpshooters fighting in loose skirmish formations, and specific bugle calls were used to direct the units in the confusion of the battlefield. Each battalion[79] had its own specific bugle call played repeatedly to rally the troops or used as a sort of "address" before tactical bugle calls, to identify who the order was intended for (for example, a composite bugle call could be "1st Bersaglieri" + "Company" + "Right/Nr.3" + "Deploy in open order").

Regimental Bugle Calls Tactical Bugle Calls

ReferencesEdit

  • Chase, Patrick J. Seek, Strike, Destroy: the History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II Gateway Press, 1995. Page 90
  • Giannasi, Andrea. "Il Brasile in guerra: la partecipazione della Força Expedicionaria Brasileira alla campagna d'Italia (1944-1945)" (in Italian) Prospettiva Editrice, 2004. ISBN 8874182848. Pages 146-48.
  • Popa, Thomas A. "Po Valley 1945" WWII Campaigns, United States Army Center of Military History, 1996. ISBN 0-16-048134-1. CMH Pub 72-33.
  • Wavell, Field Marshal Earl (1968) [1933]. "The Palestine Campaigns". In Sheppard, Eric William (ed.). A Short History of the British Army (4th ed.). London: Constable & Co. OCLC 35621223.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Traficante, Tony (2017-09-07). "The Bersaglieri: Italy's Spectacular Military Group". ISDA Website. Italian Sons and Daughters of America. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  2. ^ Wavell 1968 pp. 90–1
  3. ^ a b c d e f g L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume III Tomo 1 - Le Operazioni del 1916 - Gli avvenimenti invernali. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 10. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 414.
  5. ^ a b c d "4° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume IV Tomo 1 - L'ampliamento dell'Esercito nell'anno 1917. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 14. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume V Tomo 1 bis - Gli Avvenimenti 1918 dal Gennaio-Giugno. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 23. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  8. ^ a b c L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume V Tomo 1 - Gli Avvenimenti 1918 dal Gennaio-Giugno. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 76. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  9. ^ a b c L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume V Tomo 2 - La conclusione del conflitto 1918. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 157-159. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  10. ^ a b c d F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 397.
  11. ^ a b c d "1° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  12. ^ "1° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 403.
  14. ^ a b "2° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b c "VII Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  16. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 408.
  17. ^ "3° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  18. ^ "3° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d e f "V Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  20. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 479.
  21. ^ a b "5° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  22. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 419.
  23. ^ "6° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  24. ^ "6° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  25. ^ a b c "I Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  26. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 424.
  27. ^ a b "7° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  28. ^ "7° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  29. ^ a b c d "II Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  30. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 429.
  31. ^ a b "8° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  32. ^ "8° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  33. ^ a b c "VI Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  34. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 434.
  35. ^ "9° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  36. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 483.
  37. ^ "10° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  38. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 438.
  39. ^ a b "11° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  40. ^ "11° Reggimento Bersaglieri - La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  41. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 494.
  42. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 442.
  43. ^ "12° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  44. ^ "12° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  45. ^ a b "18° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  46. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 486.
  47. ^ "13° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  48. ^ a b F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 487.
  49. ^ a b "14° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  50. ^ a b c "IV Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  51. ^ a b c d F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 488.
  52. ^ a b c d "15° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  53. ^ a b c d F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 489.
  54. ^ a b c d "16° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  55. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 490.
  56. ^ "17° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  57. ^ a b c "III Brigata Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  58. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. Puletti (1998). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Primo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 446.
  59. ^ "18° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  60. ^ a b c d F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 491.
  61. ^ a b c d "19° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  62. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 492.
  63. ^ "20° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  64. ^ F. dell'Uomo, R. di Rosa (2001). L'Esercito Italiano verso il 2000 - Vol. Secondo - Tomo I. Rome: SME - Ufficio Storico. p. 493.
  65. ^ "21° Reggimento Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  66. ^ a b c L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume V Tomo 1 - Gli Avvenimenti 1918 dal Gennaio-Giugno. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 77. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  67. ^ "XLVII Battaglione". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  68. ^ "XLVIII Battaglione". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  69. ^ "LII Battaglione". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  70. ^ "LV Battaglione". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  71. ^ "LVI Battaglione". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  72. ^ Pagano, Salvatore (2013). Evoluzione della tattica durante la Grande Guerra. EFFEPÌ. pp. 179–198.
  73. ^ "Divisione Speciale Bersaglieri". Fronte del Piave. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  74. ^ a b "Gli Arditi La Storia". Esercito Italiano. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  75. ^ L'Esercito Italiano nella Grande Guerra 1915-18 - Volume V Tomo 1 bis - Gli Avvenimenti 1918 dal Gennaio-Giugno. Rome: Ufficio Storico - Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito. 1940. p. 286. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  76. ^ Popa, 1996. Page 23.
  77. ^ Giannasi, Pages 146-48.
  78. ^ Chase, 1995. Page 90
  79. ^ Later each regiment.
  80. ^ Half battalion

External linksEdit