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WW2 Italian Navy - San Marco Regiment


In 1939, the Italian Navy had a peacetime naval infantry unit at located at Pola; the Battaglione "San Marco", which was about 500 men strong.

In June of 1940, at the beginning of the war for Italy, a 2nd "mobilitation" battalion was formed, mainly with reservists, and it was given the name "Grado". This battalion was added to the already existing battalion named "Bafile". Plans were draw up to also form a 3rd battalion. The two battalions were moved to La Spezia for a scheduled amphibious landing behind the French lines, but the rapid collapse of the French Army prevented this operation, and the 2 battalions (now formed into the Reggimento "San Marco") returned to Italy, the 1st battalion to Pola, and the 2nd battalion to Trieste, less one company from the 1st battalion that was moved to Bordeaux, France as a guard unit for the new Italian BETASOM Atlantic Submarine Base. In the same period, a group of 40 Italian Maro' (marines) began parachutist training. Late in the year the Regimental HQ and the Grado Battalion were moved to Albania in preperation for an amphibious landing on Corfu island in Greece. This operation was cancelled and the unit returned to Bari.

In 1941, at the beginning of operations against Yugoslavia in April, the "Grado" battalion and elements from the "Bafile" battalion occupied and garrisoned several Yugoslavian islands and ports. In June, the Regemental HQ and the "Bafile" battalion were in Greece as garrison units on the Corinth Channel. During Autumn, all of the San Marco Regiment, including the several detachments garrisoning the Yugoslavian coast, returned to Italy as part of the Forza Navale Speciale and began training for the invasion of Malta. In November 1941, a provisional 3rd battalion (some companies detached from the Bafile battalion) was formed for a scheduled amphibious operation in North Africa, but this operation was cancelled also, and the battalion served as an infanty unit for the duration of its fighting in North Africa.

In 1942, battalions Bafile and Grado underwent a long and intense training for the scheduled "Operazione C.3" against Malta (Nov.1941 - Nov.1942), together with the now-expanded Battaglione Paracadutisti (Bn. "P") and the new Battaglione Nuotatori-Guastatori "Mazzucchelli" (later named simply Bn. "N.G."). The 3rd battalion was still on service in North Africa, distinguishing itself on September 13th - 14th 1942, while in the defence of Tobruk harbour from a strong British raid. The unit recieved its name "Tobruk" from these actions. In Nov.42, after the Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria, the Bafile, Grado and 1 CCNN landing battalion occupied Corsica (Esigenza C.2), and were then moved to Tunisia with the Regimental HQ. The P and N.G. battalions, together with a newly formed 4th battalion, occupied the southern coast of France and the Toulon port (Esigenza D).

In 1943, the P and N.G. battalions returned to their bases (the P at Tarquinia and the N.G.at Livorno), while the 4th battalion "Caorle" remained at Toulon. The "Tobruk" battalion was destroyed while in Tunisia, and the Regimental HQ, the "Bafile" and "Grado" battalions surrendered with the rest of the Axis forces. At the moment of the Sept.8th Armistice, the remaining forces of the San Marco were as follows: Bn. CAORLE at Toulon, and Bns. P and N.G. divided in several garrisons detachments in Italy and Sardinia, Recruits, the training detachments, personel returning from leave or hospitals at the Pola and Jesi depots, a security detachment (180 men) at the Santa Rosa Royal Navy Telecomunications Center (near Roma), and a security detachment (2 coys) at BETASOM Bordeaux.



DETAILED ACTIVITIES:

REGIMENTAL HQ:

Oct 25th, 1940: From Bari to Valona (Albania) in preparation for the Corfu landing

Nov 4th 1940: Back to Bari

Dec 14th 1940: To Trieste

Jan - March 1941: To Pola for lamphibious landing exercises

April 14th 1941: To Valona and then to Greece.

Early Sept.1941: Back to Bari

Sept 16th 1941: To Livorno

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica

Nov 24th 1942: Landing in Biserte (Tunisia), then operations in Tunisia in the El-Alia and Metline area antil surrender on May 9th 1943.



1st BN "BAFILE"

July 1940: At La Spezia in preparation for the landing in France

August 1940: High-mountain training at the Passo del Cerreto

Sept 1940: The 2nd coy is moved to Bordeaux, and named "2 Compagnia Bis Battaglione BAFILE"

Dec 1940: A new 2nd coy is formed

Jan - March 1941: Training at Pola

April 14th 1941: Operations in Jugoslavia (occupation of Veglia)

April 25th 1941: To Bari, then to Greece

June 8th - Sept 5th 1941: Garrison to the Corinth Channel.

Sept 6th 1941: To Bari

Sept 16th 1941: To Livorno

Oct 23rd 1941: To La Maddalena island (North-East Sardinia)

Nov 6th - 16th 1941: Bn HQ, HQ coy, 3rd coy and MMG coy (536 Maro') moved to Bengasi (Lybia), then to Barce.

Nov 18th 1941: Costal defence in the Alba - Ras Hilal area

Nov 30th 1941: Renamed 3rd North Africa Bn (3 Battaglione A.S.)

Jan 6th 1942: The BAFILE is fully reformed at La Maddalena around its coys that had remained in Italy

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn is a Hq Coy, 4 x Rifle coys, a 81mm Mortar coy, and a 47L32 AT coy.

Until Nov 11th 1942: In training for Operazione C.3

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica

Nov 19th - 22nd 1942: Landing in Biserte (Tunisia)

Nov 24th 1942: Costal defence in the Biserte - Porto Farina area

Dec 9th - 12th 1942: Detachments occupies the La Galite and Caini islands, disarming several French AA and Anti-Shiping batteries

May 9th 1943: Surrender to the Allies



2nd BN "GRADO"

July 1940: At La Spezia in preparation for the landing in France

August 1940: High-mountain training at the Passo del Cerreto

Sept 1940: At Pola

Oct 2nd 1940: At Trieste ("Audace" barracks)

Oct 25th 1940: From Bari to Valona (Albania) in preparation for the Corfu landing

Nov 4th 1940: Back to Bari

Dec 15th 1940: To Trieste

Jan - March 1941: To Pola for lamphibious landing exercises

April 17th 1941: Occupies Sebrenico (3rd coy)

April 22nd 1941: Detachments of the 3rd coy occupies Curzolari and Salta Islands.

April 23rd 1941: 1st and 2nd coy occupies Spalato, one platoon occupies Lissa Island

May - Aug 1941: Garrison in Dalmatia, divided as follows - HQ Coy at Spalato, 1st Coy at Cattaro, 2nd Coy at Solta, Brazza, Lesina, Lissa and Curzola, 3rd coy at Sebrenico, 4th MMG coy: one platoon in support to each one of the above mentioned coys. During the occupation of Dalmazia the bn is called to suppress a revolt in Montenegro (Cattaro, Teodo, Risano, Castelnuovo and Kumbor). Half a coy was moved to Maline in reserve, and later to Budua and Teodo.

Sept 1941: Back to Bari

Oct 23rd 1941: Exercises at Livornob Nov.30th 1941 : 3rd coy to Piombino for exercises

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn - Hq Coy, 4 x Rifle coys, a 81mm Mortar coy, and a 47L32 AT coy

Dec 1941 - Nov 1942: In training at Livorno for Operazione C.3

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica

Nov 23rd 1942: Landing in Biserte (Tunisia)

Nov 24th - 25th 1942: Coastal defence in the El-Azib area

Dec 1st 1942: Defensive line on the Bonchatur Heights (From Biserte to Tunis). The MMG Coy garrisons the Ouona airport (south of Tunis)

Dec 23rd 1942: To Susa

Dec 29th - 30th 1942: Battle of Gebel Chakeur, the bn succesfully attack Allies positions

Jan 21st - 22nd 1942: Battle of Diebel Bou Dabouss. Supported by the Rgt Mortar coy, the bn repulse an Allies assault, then counterattacks occupying the Allies positions (and captures about 200 prisoners)

April 28th 1942: To Pont du Fahs

May 4th 1943: To Aousida (east of Biserte)

May 9th 1943: Surrender to the Allies, moved to the concentration camps at Bona and Mateur.



3rd BN A.S. (Later 3rd BN "TOBRUK")

Nov 30th 1941: The 3 Battaglione San Marco in Africa Settentrionale in formed from detachments of the 1st BAFILE bn.

Dec 18th-21st 1941: Moved to the El Agheila area, garrisoning Marsa Breda, Agedabia and Autelat, assigned to the "SABATHA" Div in the 86th Regiment (with the 1st and 2nd GGFF bns). The bn is reinforced with 12 47L32 AT guns and 12 20L65 AA guns.

Jan 22nd 1942: To Agedabia.

Jan 26th 1942: To the Antelat area.

Feb 23rd 1942: To Bengasi.

March 1942: Costal defence from El-Morra to Dirana (80kms!) and Bengasi harbour.

May 1st 1942: The bn HQ returns to Napoli, after the order for the bn to return to Italy, but the return order is later cancelled and the other coys are attached to the German KG Heckler.

May 24th 1942: The HQ coy returns to Bengasi by air transport, and then moves to Bomba where the rest of the bn is located.

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn - Hq Coy, 4 x Rifle coys, a 81mm Mortar coy, a 47L32 AT coy, and a 20L65 AA coy.

May 29th - June 1st 1942: The bn moves to front line at Tring-el-Abd via Tmini, Rotonda Mteifel and Got-el-Nalet.

June 2nd 1942: Battle of El Abd, clear Axis victory with thousands of British POWs taken.

June 5th - 6th 1942: The bn is now reserve for the 10th Corps, security duties on the Tmini road repulsing British tank and armored car attacks.

June 19th 1942: To Bubu Scenaf.

June 21st 1942: To Bir-Batruna, where it stops british units retreating from Tobruk.

June 22nd 1942: The bn enters Tobruk, and is deployed on a 12km costal defence line. One platoon follows the Axis advance in Egypt to the Baia degli Arabi, near El Alamein.

July 15th - 30th 1942: Another platoon moves to Marsa Matruk.

Aug 15th - 30th 1942: Another platoon moves to El Daba. This three detachments are in support of the light Torpedo Boats of the 10th MAS "Autocolonna Giobbe".

Sept 13th - 14th 1942: The bn repulse a strong British raid against Tobruk, and is renamed 3 Battaglione "TOBRUK".

Oct 1942: The bn leaves Tobruk by sea and is moved to Bengasi.

Nov 13th - 14th 1942: The bn moves by sea to Ras Aali.

Dec 1942 - Jan 1943: Slow retreat toward Tunisia, attached to the "LA SPEZIA" div. Engaged at Marsa-el-Brega (Dec 12th) Buerat-el-Asun (late December) and the Maret line (late January 1943).

Late March 1943: Defence of Akarit as part of the 126th Rgt "LA SPEZIA".

April 5th - 6th 1943: The bn is almost destroyed in the battle of the Oidane-el-Hachana line.

April 14th 1943: The remnants of the bn returns in Italy at Trapani.



4th BN "CAORLE".

Sept 13th 1942: The unit is formed at Pola for the Esigenza D (occupation of Toulon), formed by 3/5 recruits and 2/5 "shipwreck survivors" (???). It was intended from the beginning as a Garrison (not front-line) unit.

Oct 14th 1942: OOB of the bn - Hq Coy and 4 x Rifle coys.

Nov 16th 1942: To Livorno.

early Dec 1942: The 1st coy and one independent platoon are moved to Bordeaux to reinforce the BETASOM garrison. The other coys of the bn are moved to the Toulon area, where they remained until the Set 8th Armistice.



MILMART (Naval Blackshirts) COYS (attached to the S.Marco bns)

Oct 24th 1940: The 1st MILMART MMG coy is attached to the GRADO bn, after intense anphibious training.

Oct 25th 1940: from Bari to Valona (Albania) in preparation for the Corfu landing.

Nov 4th 1940: Back to Bari.

Dec 14th 1940: To Saseno via Brindisi.

Jan-Marc 1941; A 2nd coy is formed, and sent to Capo Papas (near Patrasso). The 1st coy is at Loutraki, as part of the Corinth Channel garrison.

Sept 4th 1941: Back to Italy (both coys).

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica (both coys).

Oct 23 1941 - Aug 1942: 1st coy to La Maddalena.

Sept 1st - Nov 11th 1942: In training at Livorno for Operazione C.3 (both coys).

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica.

Nov 15th - 17th: Moved to Cagliari (Sardinia).

Nov 21st 1942: 1st coy to Biserte (Tunisia) with the BAFILE.

Nov 23rd 1942: 2nd coy to Biserte (Tunisia) with the GRADO.

Nov 24th 1942: The new 3rd coy is formed at Biserte (Tunisia) with "Italians of Tunisia" volunteers, and attached to the Rgt HQ The three coys followed their bns for all the Tunisia operations, except the 2nd coy, that served in costal defence on the Sidi Bou Said-La Goletta line, with one detachment acting as garrison for the Oudna airport.



BN "P" (Paracadutisti).

March 22nd 1941: 40 men are sent to the parachutist school at Tarquinia, to train for an operation on the Corinth Channel bridge.

March 1942: Another 100 men underwent parachutist training.

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn, Hq Coy and 6 Parachutist "teams"

Sept 1942: A final batch of 120 men underwent parachutist training.

Oct 14th 1942: OOB of the bn, Hq Coy and 3 x Parachutist coys.

Nov 13th 1942: To Toulon for garrison duties.

Feb 6th - 8th 1943: Back to Tarquinia.

April 30th 1943: Assigned to Generalmas HQ for special operations BN "G" (Guastatori) and SPECIAL BN "Mazzucchelli" - later BN "N" (Nuotatori) - later amalgamated as BN "N.G."

June 21st 1941: The Battaglione Speciale "MAZZUCCHELLI" (assault swimmers) is formed, with 200 men of the San Marco and 200 of the MILMART (naval Blackshirts).

Late Aug 1941: The "G" bn (50 men!) finish its training, and is activated at Pola.

Oct 1941: Another 50 men (from the Army, but trained by the S.Marco) are added to the bn "G".

???: The Bn "G" moves to Livorno and then to La Maddalena island.

Sept 4th 1942: Sabotage raid on the Egypt coast.

Oct 14th 1942: OOB of the bn "Mazzucchelli", Hq Coy and 5 x Rifle coys.

late Oct 1942: The "Mazzucchelli" is renamed "N", and then amalgamated with the "G" as "N.G." bn. A detachment , called Reparto Guastatori Nuotatori is moved to Bengasi, and later attached to the TOBRUK bn.

Nov 11th 1942: Landing in Corsica .

Nov 13th 1942: To Toulon for garrison duties.

Feb 6th - 8th 1943: back to Livorno.

Dec 2nd 1942 - Feb 15th 1943: Several sabotage raids against the Allies supply lines.

Feb 6th 1943: raid on Algiers.