06 January 2019
The 58th Infantry Division Legnano was an Infantry Division of the Royal Italian Army during the Second World War. It was raised on 8 February 1934 in Milan and was disestablished on 17 February 1944 in Apulia. On 24 May 1939 it also spun off the 6th Infantry Division Cuneo.
In 1940 the division remained in Fenestrelle-Col de Fenestre as a reserve force of the 4th Army during the Italian invasion of France. The division was transferred to Albania in January 1941 to stop a Greek breakthrough during the Capture of Klisura Pass, reaching the coastal front line on 7 January 1941, and on 26 January it 1941 engaged Greek forces at Këlcyrë, which were trying to advance to Arrëza e Madhe on the northern flank of Battle of Trebeshina. The Legnano advance ultimately failed, forcing the division to halt by 8 March 1941. As a result, Legnano did not take part in the Italian Spring Offensive. After Greek units withdrew during the start of the Battle of Greece, the Legnano division entered Këlcyrë on 16 April 1941. The division reached Kuman before being reassigned to the reserve of the 9th Army. On 21 June Legnano began boarding ships in Vlorë to return to Lombardy. The division was soon posted to Liguria. In November 1942 the division was sent to France for the coastal defence of the Cannes-Saint-Tropez sector, effectively taking part in the occupation of Vichy France, and afterwards stayed in France on occupation duty. In August 1943 the division began a gradual return to Apulia in the south east of mainland Italy. It returned first to Bologna, and then headed for Brindisi in Apulia. After allied forces had landed on the Italian peninsula and an armistice between Italy and the Allies had been signed on 8 September 1943, some small detachments were already at Brindisi and Francavilla Fontana, while many others were stranded at Bologna and other locations on their way to their destination. The division remained loyal to the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, who fled with his royal court from Rome to Brindisi. Therefore, Legnano began to work with the Allies, who soon arrived as a result of Operation Slapstick. On 26 September 1943 the division re-formed as the Italian 1st Motorized Group, which was to aid the Allied war effort. In the following months, the division lost all its units, which were needed on the front lines. On 17 February 1944 the division was broken up, with its last units joining other divisions. On 24 September 1944 the 1st Brigade of the Italian Liberation Corps (Corpo Italiano di Liberazione, or CIL), was renamed as the Legnano Combat Group. The Combat Group consisted of the 68th Infantry Regiment Palermo, the 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment, the elite IX Assault Battalion and the Special Infantry Regiment, which contained the remnants of the 3rd Alpini Regiment and the 4th Bersaglieri Regiment. The Combat Group was equipped with British weapons and materiel. The new Legnano went to the front as part of the Polish II Corps, on the extreme left of the British 8th Army near the river Idice, and was tasked with liberating Bologna.
Orders of battle
Order of battle (1934)
7. Infantry Regiment Cuneo 8. Infantry Regiment Cuneo 67. Infantry Regiment Palermo 27. Artillery Regiment
Order of battle (1940)
67. Palermo Infantry Regiment 68. Palermo Infantry Regiment 58. Artillery Regiment 58. Mortar Battalion 58. Anti-Tank Company 58. Engineer Battalion 61. Medical Section 163. Motor Transport Group 18. Carabinieri Section 19. Carabinieri Section 240. Carabinieri Section 104. Bersaglieri Company
Order of battle (8 September 1943)
67. Palermo Infantry Regiment 68. Palermo Infantry Regiment 58. Artillery Regiment 1. Artillery group 100/17 2. Artillery group 75/27 3. Artillery group 75/18 4. Anti-aircraft battery 20 mm 58. Mortar Battalion Signals section (photo-electric telegraph) Signals platoon (radio) Mining detachment Various elements of the servicesThese units reached Apulia (by 8 September 1943): 58. Mortar Battalion 58. Machine gun company Close support artillery battery of 68th infantry regiment 12a Battery of 4th artillery group 358a Anti-aircraft batteryAlso reached Apulia (by 13 September 1943): 162. Infantry regiment 350. Coastal defence battalion 323. Anti-paratrooper detachment 407. Anti-paratrooper detachment 4. Artillery group (battalion) 99. Border guards battalion
Order of battle (26 September 1943) as 1st Motorized Group
1st Motorized Group Command (formed with the men of the 58th Infantry Division Legnano Command Group) 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo I Battalion/67th Infantry Regiment I Battalion/93rd Infantry Regiment (from the 18th Infantry Division Messina) LI Bersaglieri Training Battalion V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed) V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed) 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment (from the 104th Motorised Division Mantova) Engineer Company