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"Italian Small-Scale Counterattacks" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on Italian tactics and counterattacks in North Africa was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The inferiority of the Italian to the German Army is apt to obscure certain Italian qualities which it would be unwise to ignore. Among these is the skill and promptitude of Italian small-scale counterattack from prepared positions. During the battle of Keren in Eritrea, for example, the Italians, through this tactic, succeeded more than once in dislodging the British from newly taken positions.

Since many junior Italian officers have not been sufficiently trained, these counterattacks do not always materialize. But, whenever the junior officer happens to be well trained and keen, he may prove to be a formidable opponent, and preparation to meet such action should be taken whenever fighting against the Italians.

In this type of operations, the excellent Italian 81-mm mortar (see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 11, p. 44) plays an important role. It is significant that the 81-mm mortar allowance of the Italian infantry division in Italy has recently been increased from 24 mortars to 36, and to 45 in the latest type of motorized division. However, it remains at 18 in the North African theater.

Since July 1942, there have been three separate occasions when Italian resistance in Egypt has been an unpleasant surprise. In all of these, they were dug in and deployed in very favorable positions. At least once the 81-mm mortar was identified, and caused considerable damage.


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