The Battle of Monte Lungo

On 13 October 1943 the Kingdom of Italy declared war on Germany and was recognized as a cobelligerent by the Allies. The Battle of Monte Lungo, that took place between 8 and 16 December 1943, was the first engagement of the Royal Army fighting alongside the Allied forces in Italy.

On 8 September 1943 the government of Italy announced an armistice. A month later, on 13 October, the Kingdom of Italy declared war on Germany. A new Brigade, the First Motorized Group (I Raggruppamento Motorizzato), was formed in September 1943. Under command of General Vincenzo Dapino. The brigade consisted of about 5,000 soldiers. The main units were the 67th Infantry Regiment Legnano, the LI Cadets’ Battalion of Bersaglieri and the 11th Artillery Regiment. The brigade was attached to the the U.S. 5th Army. Highly spirited but poorly armed, the unit bore the heavy responsibility of redeeming the military honour of the Italian Royal Army. The First Motorized Group was ordered to conquer Monte Lungo during the Allied offensive in San Pietro Valley from 8 - 16 December 1943. The mountain was occupied by the German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division and a key point in blocking the Allied advance to the North. On 8 December 1943 the Italian Brigade advanced together with units of the U.S. II Corps under cover of the morning mist. As soon as the mist disappeared, the advancing soldiers were exposed and their old German allies prepared a deadly reception. The Italians suffered heavy casualties (47 dead and 102 injured) in the hastily planned mission. The first attack on Monte Lungo was unsuccessful. On 16 December the attack was repeated. Now better prepared and supported by heavy artillery bombardments the peak was conquered by the joint forces. The Italian actions at Monte Lungo did much to remove the Allied distrust of the Italian soldiers fighting on their side.
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