WW2 Italian Navy – San Marco Regiment

In 1939, the Italian Navy had a peacetime naval infantry unit at located atPola; 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 battalionswere moved to La Spezia for a scheduled amphibious landing behind the Frenchlines, but the rapid collapse of the French Army prevented this operation,and the 2 battalions (now formed into the Reggimento “San Marco”) returnedto Italy, the 1st battalion to Pola, and the 2nd battalion to Trieste, lessone company from the 1st battalion that was moved to Bordeaux, France asa guard unit for the new Italian BETASOM Atlantic Submarine Base. In thesame period, a group of 40 Italian Maro’ (marines) began parachutisttraining. Late in the year the Regimental HQ and the Grado Battalion weremoved to Albania in preperation for an amphibious landing on Corfu islandin 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 andgarrisoned several Yugoslavian islands and ports. In June, the RegementalHQ and the “Bafile” battalion were in Greece as garrison units on theCorinth Channel. During Autumn, all of the San Marco Regiment, including theseveral detachments garrisoning the Yugoslavian coast, returned to Italy aspart of the Forza Navale Speciale and began training for the invasion ofMalta. In November 1941, a provisional 3rd battalion (some companies detachedfrom the Bafile battalion) was formed for a scheduled amphibious operationin North Africa, but this operation was cancelled also, and the battalionserved as an infanty unit for the duration of its fighting in North Africa.

In 1942, battalions Bafile and Grado underwent a long and intense trainingfor the scheduled “Operazione C.3” against Malta (Nov.1941 – Nov.1942),together with the now-expanded Battaglione Paracadutisti (Bn. “P”) and thenew 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 ofTobruk harbour from a strong British raid. The unit recieved its name”Tobruk” from these actions. In Nov.42, after the Allied landings in Moroccoand Algeria, the Bafile, Grado and 1 CCNN landing battalion occupiedCorsica (Esigenza C.2), and were then moved to Tunisia with theRegimental HQ. The P and N.G. battalions, together with a newly formed 4thbattalion, 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 atTarquinia and the N.G.at Livorno), while the 4th battalion “Caorle” remainedat Toulon. The “Tobruk” battalion was destroyed while in Tunisia, and theRegimental HQ, the “Bafile” and “Grado” battalions surrendered with therest of the Axis forces. At the moment of the Sept.8th Armistice, theremaining forces of the San Marco were as follows: Bn. CAORLE at Toulon, andBns. P and N.G. divided in several garrisons detachments in Italy andSardinia, Recruits, the training detachments, personel returning from leaveor hospitals at the Pola and Jesi depots, a security detachment (180 men) atthe Santa Rosa Royal Navy Telecomunications Center (near Roma), and asecurity detachment (2 coys) at BETASOM Bordeaux.


DETAILED ACTIVITIES:

REGIMENTAL HQ:

Oct 25th, 1940: From Bari to Valona (Albania) in preparation forthe 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 inTunisia in the El-Alia and Metline area antil surrender on May 9th1943.


1st BN “BAFILE”

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

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

Sept 1940: The 2nd coy is moved to Bordeaux, and named “2 CompagniaBis Battaglione BAFILE”

Dec 1940: A new 2nd coy is formed

Jan – March 1941: Training at Pola

April 14th 1941: Operations in Jugoslavia (occupation ofVeglia)

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 aroundits coys that had remained in Italy

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn is a Hq Coy, 4 x Rifle coys, a 81mmMortar 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 Farinaarea

Dec 9th – 12th 1942: Detachments occupies the La Galite and Cainiislands, 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 inFrance

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 theCorfu 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 andSalta Islands.

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

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

Sept 1941: Back to Bari

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

May 30th 1942: OOB of the bn – Hq Coy, 4 x Rifle coys, a 81mmMortar 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 Biserteto 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 succesfullyattack Allies positions

Jan 21st – 22nd 1942: Battle of Diebel Bou Dabouss. Supported bythe Rgt Mortar coy, the bn repulse an Allies assault, then counterattacksoccupying 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 concentrationcamps at Bona and Mateur.


3rd BN A.S. (Later 3rd BN “TOBRUK”)

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

Dec 18th-21st 1941: Moved to the El Agheila area, garrisoning MarsaBreda, Agedabia and Autelat, assigned to the “SABATHA” Div in the 86thRegiment (with the 1st and 2nd GGFF bns). The bn is reinforced with 1247L32 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!) andBengasi harbour.

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

May 24th 1942: The HQ coy returns to Bengasi by air transport, andthen 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 81mmMortar coy, a 47L32 AT coy, and a 20L65 AA coy.

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

June 2nd 1942: Battle of El Abd, clear Axis victory with thousandsof 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 carattacks.

June 19th 1942: To Bubu Scenaf.

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

June 22nd 1942: The bn enters Tobruk, and is deployed on a 12kmcostal defence line. One platoon follows the Axis advance in Egypt to theBaia 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 threedetachments 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 againstTobruk, 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 (lateDecember) and the Maret line (late January 1943).

Late March 1943: Defence of Akarit as part of the 126th Rgt “LASPEZIA”.

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

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


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 “shipwrecksurvivors” (???). It was intended from the beginning as a Garrison (notfront-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 movedto Bordeaux to reinforce the BETASOM garrison. The other coys of the bnare moved to the Toulon area, where they remained until the Set 8thArmistice.


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) inpreparation 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 (nearPatrasso). The 1st coy is at Loutraki, as part of the Corinth Channelgarrison.

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 (bothcoys).

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 HQThe three coys followed their bns for all the Tunisia operations, exceptthe 2nd coy, that served in costal defence on the Sidi Bou Said-La Golettaline, 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 Parachutistcoys.

Nov 13th 1942: To Toulon for garrison duties.

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

April 30th 1943: Assigned to Generalmas HQ for special operationsBN “G” (Guastatori) and SPECIAL BN “Mazzucchelli” – later BN “N”(Nuotatori) – later amalgamated as BN “N.G.”

June 21st 1941: The Battaglione Speciale “MAZZUCCHELLI” (assaultswimmers) 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 activatedat Pola.

Oct 1941: Another 50 men (from the Army, but trained by the S.Marco) areadded 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 Riflecoys.

late Oct 1942: The “Mazzucchelli” is renamed “N”, and then amalgamatedwith the “G” as “N.G.” bn. A detachment , called Reparto GuastatoriNuotatori 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 Alliessupply lines.

Feb 6th 1943: raid on Algiers.