Infantrymen of the Air

Infantrymen of the Air

An Operational History of the Royal Italian Airborne Forces in the Second World War, 1936-1943

Jeffrey W.S. Leser

Infantrymen of the Air is a complete account of the Royal Italian airborne forces during WW2: their origin, organization, training, and combat operations from 1936 to 1943. The battle accounts are supported by numerous maps and includes a section on the science of airborne operations.
Date Published :
January 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Illustration :
c 30 ills, 40-50 maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915113702
Pages : 264
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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$45.00

Overview
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There is little written modern history about the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army) in the Second World War in the English language. Most readers’ knowledge of the actions of the R.E. are in works that focus on the Allied side of the conflict and are heavily dependent on Allied sources. While there are several recent works on the operations of the Regia Aeronautica and Regina Marina during the war, these tend to omit or only briefly mention the activities of the specialized units within those services.

Infantrymen of the Air is the first detailed account of one speciality within the Italian military: the paracadutisti (paratroopers). Many readers are aware of the exploits of the divisione paracadutisti «Folgore» at El Alamein, but few are aware that the paracadutisti were involved in all the major fighting in North Africa. There was the I battaglione paracadutisti libici that fought at Derna and Beda Fomm during Operation Compass. Then the Carabinieri dell’Aria stopped a pursuing infantry brigade during Operation Crusader. The remains of the «Folgore» continued to fight at Mareth and as the 285º battaglione «Folgore» at Takrouna. The divisione aviotrasportabile «La Spezia» is also addressed as part of an Italian airborne corps.

Infantrymen of the Air also addresses the Regia Aeronautica’s and the Regina Marina’s airborne units. The Regina Aeronautica’s (Royal Air Force) created the I battaglione paracadutisti d’assalto and battaglione «Loreto» both for use on the planned invasion of Malta, yet found themselves fighting bravely in Tunisia. The battaglione Arditi Distruttori della Regia Aeronautica (A.D.R.A.) conducted raids in North Africa and Sicily. Paratroopers require transport aircraft and the ability of the Servizi Aerei Speciali to support airborne operations is examined.

The parachutists of the Regina Marina (Royal Navy) are detailed as well in Infantrymen of the Air. The battaglioni P(aracadutisti) and N(uotatori) del reggimento «San Marco» were raised for special operations and the planned invasion of Malta. Both would see action in Tunisia in 1943.

Infantrymen of the Air presents the history of these units from their authorization to their final actions in September 1943. The book discusses the doctrinal underpinnings for the creation and employment of these units. Organizational charts and equipment authorizations are provided to explore their evolution. The training, both the failures and successes, are explained for the reader. Operations that were planned but never executed are also included in their story

The combat history of many of these units are presented to English readers for the first time. Battles and actions are addressed based mainly Italian sources supplemented by Allied histories. Numerous maps accompany each account, allowing the reader to visually follow the ebb and flow of the events presented. In many cases these accounts go beyond what is offered in Italian language works, integrating Allied sources to a greater degree to present a more complete picture.

Infantrymen of the Air offers an excellent resource to the student of World War 2. It is hope that this book is the ‘must have’ work for anyone studying the history of the Italian paracadutisti during the war.

About The Author
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Jeff Leser is a retired US Army officer and a former Deputy Director at the US Army Command & General Staff College. During his military career, he earned the US Army Parachute Badge, Ranger Tab, and Air Assault Badge, as well as the German Army’s Parachute Badge. He has researched the Italian military during WW2 since the early 1980s and is currently the administrator of the Comando Supremo website. Leser has written several professional articles, co-authored a book chapter in Joystick Soldiers, and co-authored the book Italy at War.

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