The Sassari Brigade

Introduction

The “Sassari” Mechanized Brigade is part of the “Projection Forces” of the Italian Armed Forces.Constituted in 1915 with personnel recruited exclusively from Sardinia, it fought in the First World War. After having been engaged in a campaign on the western front in 1940, the Brigade operated in the Balkans from where it was retreated in 1943 to be deployed in Rome where it fought in defense of the Capital. After the war, it was dissolved. Reconstituted in 1988, it maintained its characteristic with Volunteers in Fixed Conscription or in Permanent Service. It is located in Sardinia and is organized in a Command Brigade, a Command and Tactical Supports Command, two Infantry Regiments, a Bersaglieri Regiment, an Engineer Regiment and a Logistics Regiment.

World War I

Italian Soldiers of the Sassari brigade, ca 1916

The “Sassari” Brigade was constituted on 1st March 1915 in Tempio Pausania, with the 151st and 152nd Infantry Regiments. During the Great War the Brigade fought against the Austrians. For its heroism during the First World War, the Flags of the two Regiment were awarded with two Gold Medals to Military Valor. After the end of World War I the Italian Army disbanded all brigades raised during the war with the exception of the Sassari Infantry Brigade and three further brigades, which also had distinguished themselves during the war: Liguria, Arezzo and Avellino. The brigade moved to Trieste as part of the 12th Infantry Division Timavo’. In 1926 the brigade gained the 12th Infantry Regiment Casale and changed its name to XII Infantry Brigade. Along with the 34th Artillery Regiment the brigade were the only units of the 12th Division. In 1939 the brigade lost the 12th Infantry regiment and was renamed 12th Infantry Division Sassari. This binary division consisted of only two infantry regiments (151st and 152nd) and the 34th Field Artillery Regiment. To increase the weak strength of the division in 1941 the division was joined by the 73rd Blackshirt Assault Legion Boiardo, a battalion sized militia unit of the Italian Fascist Party.

World War II

Italian Invasion of Yugoslavia on 06 April 1941

On June 1940, the Sassari division was deployed on border defense duties at Venezia Giulia valley (near Borjana). As part of the Italian V Corps the division remained in Istria on garrison duty until 6 April 1941 when Axis forces began the invasion of Yugoslavia. The first Yugoslav cities to fall were Prezid and Čabar on 12 April, followed Novi Lazi and Borovec on 14 April. On 19 April the division reached Delnice, the following day Knin. For the next two years the division command remained in Knin, while the divisions units were continuously employed in anti-Partisan operations: in Šibenik, Brod na Kupi, Gračac, Petrovac and Drvar. The heaviest fighting occurred during July 1942 when the division tried to clean the Velebit mountains of Partisan forces.

In March 1943, after the Battle of the Neretva, the division transferred to Rome to aid in the defense of the city in case of an Allied attack. During this time the division was reorganized along the lines of the Mod.43 reform of the Italian Army and was augmented with the XII Mortar Battalion and the XII Semovente Battalion which was equipped with 24 Semovente 75/18 self-propelled guns. In total the division fielded 14.500 troops, 24 Semovente (Self Propelled Gun) and 80 artillery pieces. After the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces on 8 September 1943 the division found itself fighting Italy’s former allies the Germans and along with the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna and 135th Armored Division Ariete II.

The Sassari defended Rome for two days. On 10 September 1943 the remnants of the Sassari brigade joined the 21st Infantry Division Granatieri di Sardegna and the 8th Cavalry Regiment Lancieri di Montebello and hundreds of civilian volunteers at Porta San Paolo for a last stand. Civilians at Porta San Paolo included communist leader Luigi Longo, lawyer Giuliano Vassalli, writer Emilio Lussu, unionist leader Vincenzo Baldazzi, Mario Zagari, retired Air Force generals Sabato Martelli Castaldi and Roberto Lordi, and 18-year-old future partisan leader Marisa Musu. The future Italian president Sandro Pertini brought a detachment of Socialist resistance fighters to Porta San Paolo and around 12:30 hours the Catholic Communist movement arrived with further reinforcements including famed actor Carlo Ninchi. However by 17:00 the Germans broke the line of the Italian defenders, who had suffered 570 dead. Soon after the Italian military units surrendered to the Germans as the flight of the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III from Rome had made further resistance senseless. However the Italian soldiers handed thousands of weapons over to the civilian population, which was quick to form an organized resistance movement in the city of Rome.

Today

The Sassari Brigade during an exercise

On December 1st 1988, the tradition of the Brigade was continued as the “Sassari” Motorized Brigade was constituted in Sassari, including the 151st “Sette Comuni” Motorized Battalion, the 152nd “Sassari” Infantry Battalion and the 45th “Arborea” Infantry Battalion. Since January 1st 1991 it became “Sassari” Mechanized Brigade and included the Command and Tactical Support Unit, the 151st and 152nd “Sassari” Infantry Regiments and the 45th “Reggio” Regiment. On September 26th 2003 the 45th “Reggio” Infantry Regiment was changed into 5th Engineer Regiment that was included in the “Sassari” Mechanized Brigade. On 1st December 2009, the General staff of the Army ordered the relocation of the 3rd Bersaglieri Regiment from the “Mameli” barracks in Milan to the “Salvatore Pisano” barracks in Capo Teulada, leaving the 132nd “Ariete” Armoured Brigade and passing to the dependencies of the “Sassari” Mechanized Brigade.​

Historical Museum of the “Sassari” Brigade

​The Museum was built in 1992 with the scientific support of M.Brigaglia and G.Fois of Sassari University; it is situated on the ground floor of the “La Marmora” barracks that dates backs to the end of the last century. It has been realized to remember the glorious traditions of the “Sassari” Brigade, the Unit constituted in 1915 by regional components. Be sure to watch for opening hours, these are very limited. More info here

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.