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Book Review
Italian Soldier 1941-43
Italian Soldier in North Africa 1941-43
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by: Randy Harvey [ HARV ]

Introduction

The following is the introduction from the book;
Despite the attention paid to the Afrikakorps over the years, it was the numerically far superior forces of the Italian Army that held the line and formed the bulk of the fighting power available to the Axis powers during the War in the Desert from 1941 through to 1943. Their performance has been unfairly criticized over the years – the best units of the Italian Army were equal to those of the British and Germans – but they suffered from a lack of mobility and poor equipment that made it impossible for them to meet mobile British forces on anywhere near equal terms. Despite this, the Italian Army went through many changes through the period, with the introduction of a variety of elite units – armoured, mechanized and parachute divisions that did much to restore the fighting reputation of the Italian soldier in the Desert War.

THE BOOK

Osprey Publications Ltd has released Italian Soldier in North Africa 1941-43 by authors Piero Crociani and Pier Paolo Battistelli as Number 169 in their Warrior series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations by Steve Cook, authors’ notes, and detailed captions. It has a 2013 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-78096-855-1. As the title states, the book discusses the history of the Italian soldier in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 during World War II.
This title details the recruitment, organization and experience of the Italian forces in this theatre, casting new light on a force whose fighting power and capabilities have been unfairly ignored and maligned for too long.
Quoted from the back cover of the book.

CONTENTS

  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • The Italian Army In North Africa
  • Recruitment, Enlistment And Conditions Of Service
  • Training
  • Appearance And Equipment
  • On Campaign
  • Experience Of Battle
  • Belief And Belonging
  • After The battle
  • Bibliography
  • Index

The Text
The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Authors Piero Crociani and Pier Paolo Battistelli cover the Italian soldier in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 during World War II nicely and with great depth. Piero Crociani and Pier Paolo Battistelli go into great detail in all areas of the book as outlined in the introduction. As I read through the text it was easy to see that the authors spent a great deal of time painstakingly researching and collecting information on the titled area in regards to the Italian soldier in North Africa during World War II. As one would expect the books discusses the various Italian military units, uniforms and weapons as well as actions taken before, during and after various military actions discussed within the covers of this volume. After reading through the volume I could not think of any subject in regards to the Italian soldier in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 that was not covered in great detail in an easy to read, nicely flowing and understandable manner. I personally feel that anyone that reads this book will find themselves well informed in all areas of the Italian soldier in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 during World War II. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.

The Photographs
There are a total of 54 black and white photographs featured in this volume. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are a few that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time. However this is typical for this period of history and consideration needs to be given to the fact that some of the photographs are several years old and the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book and provide a visual guide for the actions described in the book. Authors Piero Crociani and Pier Paolo Battistelli stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to Italian soldier in North Africa during the World War II time frame and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. I haven’t seen a majority of the featured photographs before and I was pleased with this. I definitely consider that a bonus as it is nice to have a reference book that contains several lesser known photographs as opposed to the same old over used photographs that many books tend to contain. The included photographs will prove valuable to the military vehicle, figure and diorama modelers as well as anyone interested in the Italian soldiers in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 during World War II.

Some of the photographs that I found to particularly interesting contain subjects such as:
  • A group of Italian motorcycle mounted Bersaglieri in 1941
  • Italian soldiers manning a 47/32 anti-tank gun position
  • An Italian field kitchen
  • An Italian 20mm Breda 35 gun in an anti-aircraft position
  • Italian soldiers moving a 65/17 infantry gun
  • An Italian Lancia 3 Ro NM diesel fuelled truck with a 100/17 field gun mounted in the back
  • Italian troops manning German 88 Flak guns
  • An Italian soldier firing an Italian 9mm Beretta 38 MP(machine pistol)
  • Italian soldiers testing a mine detector
  • Italian M13/40 tanks in action
  • A typical Italian field ‘barber-shop’
  • A portrait of an Italian M13 tank crew
  • Italian soldiers laying field telephone wires
  • An Italian Breda 30 light machine-gun team with the wooden spare parts box with two spare machine-gun barrels attached on the outside of it

A favorite subject of mine is captured/commandeered equipment and weapons. I was very pleased to see that the subject was covered in this book.
Some of the captured/commandeered items include:
  • An Italian Bersaglieri armed with a British Boys Mk I anti-tank rifle in a strongpoint in Tunisia
  • British lorries being used at an Italian refueling depot
  • A Marmon-Harrington armored car pressed into Italian service
  • A British Bren gun carrier pressed into Italian service as a 8mm Breda 37 heavy machine-gun carrier

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

The Illustrations
There are 8 color illustration plates by illustrator Steve Noon that are very well done and nicely detailed.
The color illustrations are of:
A. Caporale Mitagliere, ‘Bologna’ Division, 1940
This illustration is of an Italian corporal machine-gunner. Shown with the machine-gunner are the 6.5mm Breda 30 light machine gun, machine gun ammunition, barrel changing gloves, Breda 35 and SRCM 35 hand grenades, national cockade and metal badge and lapel badges.
B. Tank Hunting Training, ‘Trento’ Division, 1942
This illustration is of Italian infantry going through tank destruction training by practicing on an Italian M13/40 tank. Some of the anti-tank weapons shown are the Italian SRCM 35 hand grenade, a British ST grenade, an OTO model 42 grenade, a "Pazzaglia’ bomb and ‘Molotov’ cocktails.
C. Maggiore, 32° Reggimento Carri, Divisione ‘Arete’, 1942
This illustration is of an Italian major wearing the uniform most commonly used by the Italian officers in North Africa and he is holding a 9mm Beretta 34 pistol. Also shown are various Italian medals, service bars and tank corps insignia.
D. Attacking The Gaza Line, “Brescia’ Division, 1942
This illustration is of Italian infantry advancing under enemy fire. The infantry are armed with an Italian 6.5mm Breda 30 light machine gun and Italian 6.5mm 91 Carcano rifles.
E. Rest Time At Benghazi, 1941
This illustration shows Italian military personnel resting behind the front lines in a secured area. Also shown is a mixed Italian/German military police patrol.
F. ‘Trento’ Division Strongpoint, El Alamein 1942
This illustration shows Italian soldiers fighting in a sandbagged trench in action against enemy troops. The Italians are using entrenched 8mm Breda 37 heavy machineguns, 6.5mm Carcano rifles and a 47/32anti-tank gun.
G. Field Hospital In The Desert, 1942
This illustration shows an Italian medical service field hospital and medical personnel. As well as various uniforms shown there is a large assortment of various medical supplies pictured.
H. Tunisian Front, 1942-43
This illustration shows are:
1. Italian Bersagliere of the 5° Reggimento Bersaglieri holding a captured British Boys 0.55 Mk I anti-tank rifle.
2. Italian Cavalryman temporarily assigned to traffic control duties.
3. Italian Sergeant of the 80° Reggimento di Artiglieria armed with an Italian model 91, 6.5mm Carcano rifle.
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

The Information Charts
There is 1 informational chart provided in this volume. It is of:
Rank Comparison Chart (Approximate) – This chart compares ranks between the Italian Army (Carabinieri), the British Army and the US Army.

The Notes
There are 3 notes included in this volume and they are:
  • Acknowledgments
  • Artist’s Note
  • Author’s Note


The Captions
The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The details themselves are basically miniature history lessons as they detail what is happening, or happened, in the photographs and give specific detail as to what was done afterword and by who. They cover things such as the units shown, as well as the vehicles, armor, equipment, dates, locations shown and other such pertinent information. As with the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors as I read through the captions. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.

CONCLUSION

All in all I am very impressed with the book. It details the Italian Soldier in North Africa in World War II during the years of 1941 to 1943 well and in depth. This volume will be of great use to the military figure modeler as well as anyone interested in World War II Italian uniforms and weapons and the North African Theatre of Operations. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey Publishing LTD titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others.

This book was provided by Osprey Publishing LTD. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.

REFERENCES

World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia
Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013
Published in 1977
Martin Windrow with color illustrations by Gerry Embleton

The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII
Saturn Books Ltd.
Ian V. Hogg

The Battle for North Africa
John Strawson
Scribners

Italian Medium Tanks in action
By Nicola Pignato
Color by Don Greer
Illustrated by Andrew Probert and Richard Hudson
Armor Number 39
Squadron/Signal Publications

Osprey Publishing also has Italian Soldier in North Africa 1941-43 available as a:
- PDF ebook
- ePub eBook
Osprey web site Live links Look inside the book on the Amazon web site:
Amazon web site Live links

Look inside the Kindle Edition of the book on the Amazon web site:
Kindle Edition of the book Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: Meticulously researched, written, and detailed text and captions Excellent subject specific photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is an excellent reference book that details the Italian soldier in North Africa during the Desert War years of 1941 through 1943 during World War II well.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 978-1-78096-855-1
  Suggested Retail: UK £11.99 / US $18.95
  PUBLISHED: Jan 05, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Italy
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 91.62%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.22%

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About Randy Harvey (HARV)
FROM: WYOMING, UNITED STATES

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2019 text by Randy Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

It looks to be a very nice title. I'm happy to see that Osprey didn't reuse the color artwork from their three-volume Men-at-Arms set on the Italian army in WWII. The color plates in this new book are very good looking. I'll be adding this one to my library as soon as my LHS gets in a copy.
JAN 06, 2014 - 04:26 AM
   

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