The Italian Army in North Africa...

...A Poor Fighting Force or Doomed by Circumstance, from Fonthill Media

Title: The Italian Army in North Africa
Author: Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr

Publisher: Fonthill Media
ISBN: 978-1-78155-674-0

 

I found this an enlightening book to read.  One of the common impressions from WW2 was that the Italian army was weak and easily defeated, an impression given largely by their defeat in the early campaigns in North Africa which eventually led to the intervention of German units to help support them.  There are elements of truth to it that were then promoted by British propaganda and that has tended to stick.  Here the author takes a deeper look at the reality of what happened with the various units of the Italian Army in North Africa.  He looks at the wider elements to the situation, including a background to each of the Italian divisions which fought in the region.

The Italian soldier was not a well equipped as those of other armies, both Allied and German.  The numbers of troops in a division was smaller and their equipment was largely inferior in terms of not only small arms, but also tanks, artillery and the availability of trucks for their infantry.  Some Italian troops did not have the same heart for the fight as their German partners, though equally had not been as well trained.  Despite Mussolini's ambitions, the author considers the Italian industrial capacity to support the army with enough equipment to enable their campaign.  There are many different factors which are highlighted throughout the story which provide a good broad picture of the circumstances they faced.

The 13 chapters deal with topics from the early Abyssinia Crisis and Ethiopia, through to the British Commonwealth attacks and the arrival of the Germans.  Then there is detailed coverage of their performance in the Siege of Tobruk, the First & Second Battles of El Alamein before we get to the arrival of the Americans in the west and then the Battles of El Agheila and Tunisia before being rounded off by an Analysis of Italian Army Performance in North Africa.  That's not the end though, as much more detail is provided in the 7 Appendices.  These include the Order of Battle for various Italian Corps and more on their vehicles and equipment, even their tropical uniforms.

Thanks to Fonthill Media for our review copy.

Robin