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The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
(Italian pronunciation: [bersaʎˈʎɛːri]) (Marksmen in English) are a corps of the Italian Army
Italian Army
originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora
Alessandro La Marmora
on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Army of the Kingdom of Sardinia, later to become the Royal Italian Army. They have always been a high-mobility light infantry unit, and can still be recognized by the distinctive wide brimmed hat that they wear (only in dress uniform in modern times), decorated with black capercaillie feathers. The feathers are usually applied to their combat helmets. Another distinctive trait of the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
is the fast jog pace they keep on parades, instead of marching.

Contents

1 Origins and history 2 Unified Italy 3 World War I 4 Interwar Period 5 World War II 6 Cold War 7 Modern Day 8 Bugle calls 9 References 10 Notes 11 External links

Origins and history[edit]

The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
halt the Russian attack during the Battle of the Chernaya

The relatively poor Kingdom of Sardinia
Kingdom of Sardinia
could not afford large numbers of cavalry, so a quick-moving infantry corps of marksmen were needed. These troops were trained to high physical and marksmanship standards. Like the French chasseurs à pied, a level of independence and initiative was encouraged so that they could operate in looser formations, in which direct command and control was not required. They fired individually and carried 60 rounds instead of the standard 40 rounds of traditional line infantry. The first uniform was black with brimmed hats, called "vaira". These were intended to defend the head from sabre blows. The first public appearance of the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
was on the occasion of a military parade on 1 July 1836. The First Company marched through Turin
Turin
with the rapid, high-stepping gait (180 paces/minute) still used by the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
in World War II
World War II
and later. The modern Bersaglieri still run both on parade and even during barracks duty - on penalty of punishment if they do not. The new corps impressed King Charles Albert, who immediately had them integrated as part of the Piedmontese regular army. The corps grew rapidly and by 1852 there were already 10 battalions, each with four companies. Throughout the nineteenth century the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
filled the role of skirmishers, screening the slow-moving line and column formations, but acting as special shock troops if required. They were originally intended to serve as mountain troops, as well; the climber Jean-Antoine Carrel
Jean-Antoine Carrel
was a Bersagliere. When the Alpini
Alpini
Corps
Corps
were created in 1872 a strong rivalry arose between the two elite corps. Unified Italy[edit]

British commercial advertising showing a Bersagliere, circa 1890

During the First War of Italian Independence (1848–1849) the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
distinguished themselves by storming the bridge at Goito. In 1855 the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
provided five battalions for the Sardinian Expeditionary Corps
Corps
in the Crimean War, where they were involved in the Battle of the Cernaia, but suffered more casualties due to a cholera epidemic. in the Crimea
Crimea
the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
get a red fez with a blue tassel, in honor from the French zouaves troops, with whom they served, as they watch the Bersaglieri's bravery in the battle. When the Armata Sarda became the Regio Esercito (Royal Italian Army) in 1860, the existing 36 battalions were used to create six Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments, which had administrative and disciplinary duties. The regiments were assigned to the army corps', with the regiment's battalions assigned to the divisions in the corps as reconnaissance units.

1st Bersaglieri Regiment
1st Bersaglieri Regiment
under I Army Corps
Corps
with the I, IX, XIII, XIX, XXI and XXVII battalions 2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under II Army Corps
Corps
with the II, IV, X, XV, XVII and XVIII battalions 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under III Army Corps
Corps
with the III, V, VIII, XX, XXIII and XXV battalions 4th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under IV Army Corps
Corps
with the VI, VII, XI, XII, XXXV and XXXVI battalions 5th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under V Army Corps
Corps
with the XIV, XVI, XXII, XXIV, XXVI and XXXIV battalions 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under VI Army Corps
Corps
with the XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII and XXXIII battalions

The most famous action of the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
occurred on 20 September 1870, when the 12th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalion stormed Rome
Rome
through a breach created by Italian artillery in the Aurelian Walls
Aurelian Walls
near Porta Pia leading to the capture of Rome
Rome
and end of the temporal power of the Pope, thus completing the unification of Italy. A monument was erected in 1932 in front of Porta Pia
Porta Pia
to commemorate the event at the same time as the National Museum of the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
corps was moved to Porta Pia, where it resides still today. In 1871, the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
corps added another four battalions and the regiments were increased from six to 10 and given also operational command of the battalions. In 1883 a further two regiments were added for a total of 12 Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments, one for each army corps with three battalions per regiment. Therefore, the four battalions raised in 1871 were disbanded.

1st Bersaglieri Regiment
1st Bersaglieri Regiment
under I Army Corps
Corps
with the I, VII and IX battalions 2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under II Army Corps
Corps
with the II, IV, and XVII battalions 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under III Army Corps
Corps
with the XVIII, XX, and XXV battalions 4th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under IV Army Corps
Corps
with the XXVI, XXIX and XXXI battalions 5th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under V Army Corps
Corps
with the XIV, XXII and XXIV battalions 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under VI Army Corps
Corps
with the VI, XIII and XIX battalions 7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under VII Army Corps
Corps
with the VIII, X and XI battalions 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under VIII Army Corps
Corps
with the III, V and XII battalions 9th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under IX Army Corps
Corps
with the XXVIII, XXX and XXXII battalions 10th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under X Army Corps
Corps
with the XVI, XXXIV and XXXV battalions 11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under XI Army Corps
Corps
with the XV, XXVII and XXXIII battalions 12th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment under XII Army Corps
Corps
with the XXI, XXIII and XXXVI battalions

World War I[edit]

'AVANTI ITALIA!': The War Illustrated', Vol.5, No.106, Aug., 1916

During World War I, the 12 Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments were augmented by nine newly raised regiments and fought with distinction on the Italian Front. Of the 210,000 members of Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments, 32,000 were killed and 50,000 wounded during the war. Italy's last surviving World War I veteran, Delfino Borroni, served in the 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Bologna. Another member who served (and was wounded) was Benito Mussolini. A contingent of Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
was sent to participate in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in 1917, when they were attached to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force commanded by General Edmund Allenby. Their "mainly political" role was to assert "hereditary ecclesiastical prerogatives in connection with the Christian churches at Jerusalem and Bethlehem."[1] After the war the nine wartime regiments were disbanded and the number of Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalions in the remaining regiments reduced to two per regiment. A new role was seen for the light infantry as part of Italy’s commitment to Mobile Warfare. The post-war Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
were converted into bicycle troops to fight alongside cavalry in the Celeri (fast) divisions. Elite units with high morale and an aggressive spirit were seen as one way to break such tactical stalemates as the trench warfare of 1915-18. The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
gave Italy highly trained formations suitable for service with both cavalry and tanks. When the armoured divisions were formed in 1939, the link between the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
and mobile warfare continued. Each new armoured and motorised division was allocated one Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiment. Interwar Period[edit] A single Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiment, the 3rd Bersagleri, took part in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War
Second Italo-Ethiopian War
in October 1935, invading from Eritrea as part of the 30th Infantry Division Sabauda
30th Infantry Division Sabauda
under General Italo Gariboldi. There, they took part in the Christmas Offensive and the Battle of Amba Aradam, among others. The regiment was detached and sent back to Asmara in March 1936 to join a new unit, the East Africa Fast Column under Achille Starace. World War II[edit] Italy began the Second World War
Second World War
with 12 Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments of three battalions each. Over the preceding years the Army had resisted suggestions to dilute their quality, and recruits continued to be of above-average size and stamina, endured intense physical training and had to qualify as marksmen. During the war an additional Bersaglieri regiment, the 18th, with three battalions was raised, but only one of its battalions saw actual combat.

1st Bersaglieri Regiment
1st Bersaglieri Regiment
with the battalions I, VII, IX corps asset of the 3rd Army Corps, but joined the 2nd Cavalry
Cavalry
Division Emanuele Filiberto Testa di Ferro in March 1942 2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions II, IV, XVII 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XVIII, XX, XXV, part of the 3rd Cavalry
Cavalry
Division Amedeo Duca d'Aosta 4th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XXVI, XXIX, XXXI 5th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XIV, XXII, XXIV part of the 131st Armoured Division Centauro 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions VI, XIII, XIX originally part of the 2nd Cavalry
Cavalry
Division Emanuele Filiberto Testa di Ferro, joined the 3rd Cavalry
Cavalry
Division Amedeo Duca d'Aosta on the Eastern Front in March 1942 7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions VIII, X, XI part of the 102nd Motorised Division Trento 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions III, V, XII part of the 132nd Armoured Division Ariete 9th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XXVIII, XXX, XXXII part of the 101st Motorised Division Trieste 10th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XVI, XXXIV, XXXV 11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XV, XXVII, XXXIII part of the 1st Cavalry
Cavalry
Division Eugenio di Savoia 12th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions XXI, XXIII, XXXVI part of the 133rd Armoured Division Littorio 18th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the battalions LXVII, LXVIII, LXIX garrison unit in the South of France; LXVII battalion was sent to the Eastern Front in spring 1942

The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
fought in southern France and then in Greece, later Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments were also deployed on the Eastern Front. One battalion of Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
participated in the East African Campaign. After the Armistice of Cassibile
Armistice of Cassibile
between the Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy
and Western Allies on 8 September 1943, Italy split in half. The Republic of Salò continued the war alongside Nazi Germany. Its Army, the fascist National Republican Army, raised the 1st "Italia" Bersaglieri Division, which was attached to the German 14th Army in a sector on the Northern Apennines. The division fought along the Gothic Line, and at the end of the final allied offensive, along with two Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
and last Italian fascist Army Divisions, surrendered after the Battle of Collecchio.[2][3][4] On the other side of the front the Italian Co-belligerent Army
Italian Co-belligerent Army
raised a Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalion as part of the Legnano
Legnano
Combat Group from remnants of the 4th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment. Cold War[edit] During the Cold War
Cold War
the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
were exclusively employed as mechanized infantry. The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalions were part of the armoured or mechanized regiments of the Army's armoured divisions, with the mechanized regiments fielding two Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
and one Tank battalion, while the tank regiments fielded two Tank and one Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalion. Attached to the motorized division were armoured infantry regiments, which consisted of one Tank and one Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalion. Without exception the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalions were armed with M113 armoured personnel carriers. The only two active Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments at that time were the 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
and 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment in the Centauro Armoured Division and the Ariete Armoured Division respectively. In 1975 the Army abolished the regimental level and battalions became independent under newly formed brigades. The Army formed the Goito Mechanized Brigade with the regimental command and units of the 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment and the Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade with the regimental command and units of the 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment. Both brigades received one extra Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
battalion from disbanded armoured infantry regiments and both fielded only personnel - with the exception of the tank crews and artillerists - from the Bersaglieri corps.

Soldiers of the 2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Governolo" on patrol with the Multinational Force in Lebanon
Multinational Force in Lebanon
in 1982

When the battalions became independent they received the flags and traditions of disbanded Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments and each battalion was given an honorary name commemorating a significant event in which it had participated: e.g. the 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Cernaia" received its honorary name to commemorate the conduct of the regiment in the Battle of the Chernaya
Battle of the Chernaya
in Crimea
Crimea
during the Crimean War
Crimean War
in 1855. In the following list of Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
units active in 1986, the honorary names link to the articles about the historic events for which they were awarded:

1st Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "La Marmora" in Civitavecchia
Civitavecchia
(Granatieri di Sardegna Mechanized Brigade) 2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Governolo" in Legnano
Legnano
( Legnano
Legnano
Mechanized Brigade) 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Cernaia" in Pordenone
Pordenone
(Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade) 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Palestro" in Turin
Turin
( Goito
Goito
Mechanized Brigade) 10th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Bezzecca" in Solbiate Olona
Solbiate Olona
(Goito Mechanized Brigade) 11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Caprera" in Orcenico Superiore
Orcenico Superiore
(Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade) 14th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
(Training) Battalion "Sernaglia" in Albenga
Albenga
(3rd Army Corps) 18th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Poggio Scanno" in Milan
Milan
( Goito
Goito
Mechanized Brigade) 23rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Castel di Borgo" in Tauriano (Mameli Armoured Brigade) 26th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Castelfidardo" in Maniago
Maniago
(Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade) 27th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Jamiano" in Aviano
Aviano
(Ariete Armoured Brigade) 28th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Oslavia" in Bellinzago Novarese
Bellinzago Novarese
(Centauro Armoured Brigade) 67th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Battalion "Fagare" in Persano (Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade)

Additionally the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
fielded five anti-tank companies, one per Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
and one per Armoured Brigade (Ariete, Centauro and Mameli Armoured Brigade). With the end of the Cold War, the Italian army began a reduction in personnel and units which also affected the Bersaglieri. On 1 June 1991 the Goito
Goito
Mechanized Brigade was disbanded, while the Garibaldi Mechanized Brigade moved to the Southern city of Caserta, as the Army had decided to reduce the number of units in the north of Italy. The Garibaldi arrived in Caserta
Caserta
on 1 July 1991 and changed its name to 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Brigade Garibaldi. Also in 1991, the battalions of the Army were renamed as regiments without changing composition. Modern Day[edit]

A Bersagliere of the NATO Response Force

While in the past the mobility of the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
manifested itself in running and the use of bicycles, regiments currently in service are all mechanised. The modern Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
have served, as part of the Garibaldi Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Brigade, as peacekeepers in the Multinational Force in Lebanon, and in Yugoslav and Somali Civil Wars, and were also active in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
traditions are still stressed. The Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
collar patches are crimson-red "flames". Enlisted troops still wear the red fez. Officers wear black berets with their ordinary uniforms, but the feathered "vaira" in ceremonial uniform. They also wear black gloves, while other Italian regiments wear white ones. Each Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
unit had a band called a "fanfara", who played their instruments at the run while on parade. The "fanfara" does not contain percussion instruments. Today only the Garibaldi Brigade, Ariete Brigade and 7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiment retain a "fanfara". The 1953 movie Roman Holiday (starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck) includes a film clip of a Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
fanfara as part of a military parade in the early part of the picture.

1st Bersaglieri Regiment
1st Bersaglieri Regiment
with the "La Marmora" battalion in Cosenza as part of the Garibaldi Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Brigade 3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the "Poggio Scanno" battalion in Teulada as part of the Sassari Mechanized Brigade 6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the "Palestro" battalion in Trapani
Trapani
as part of the Aosta Mechanized Brigade 7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the "Bezzecca" battalion in Bari
Bari
as part of the Pinerolo Mechanized Brigade 8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the "Cernaia" battalion in Caserta
Caserta
as part of the Garibaldi Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Brigade 11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment with the "Caprera" battalion in Orcenico Superiore as part of the Ariete Armoured Brigade

The 1st, 8th and 11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments serve in their traditional role as tracked mechanized infantry in the army's two heavy brigades, while the 3rd, 6th and 7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
regiments are the third manoeuvre element in wheeled mechanized infantry brigades. Bugle calls[edit] In mid-1800 the Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
were born as light infantry sharpshooters fighting in loose skirmish formations, and specific bugle calls were used to direct the units in the confusion of the battlefield. Each battalion[5] had its own specific bugle call played repeatedly to rally the troops or used as a sort of "address" before tactical bugle calls, to identify who the order was intended for (for example, a composite bugle call could be "1st Bersaglieri" + "Company" + "Right/Nr.3" + "Deploy in open order").

Regimental Bugle Calls Tactical Bugle Calls

1st Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Affirmative/Yes

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Charge

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2nd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Negative/Not

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Defend lively

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3rd Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Question/Repeat

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Defend from cavalry

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4th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Wing[6]

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Open fire

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5th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Companies

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Stop firing

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6th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Supports

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Normal step

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7th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Right(or Nr.1)

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Quick step

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8th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Left (or Nr.2)

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Running step

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9th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Center (or Nr.3)

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Stop at the mark

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10th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Deploy in open order

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Backpacks to the ground

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11th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Deploy in closed order

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Alternate skirmish lines

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12th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Deploy in successive lines

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Retreat

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18th Bersaglieri
Bersaglieri
Regiment

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Double spacing

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Attention

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Half spacing

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Ask reinforcements

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Regroup

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References[edit]

Chase, Patrick J. Seek, Strike, Destroy: the History of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II
World War II
Gateway Press, 1995. Page 90 Giannasi, Andrea. "Il Brasile in guerra: la partecipazione della Força Expedicionaria Brasileira alla campagna d'Italia (1944-1945)" (in Italian) Prospettiva Editrice, 2004. ISBN 8874182848. Pages 146-48. Popa, Thomas A. "Po Valley 1945" WWII Campaigns, United States Army Center of Military History, 1996. ISBN 0-16-048134-1. CMH Pub 72-33. Wavell, Field Marshal Earl (1968) [1933]. "The Palestine Campaigns". In Sheppard, Eric William. A Short History of the British Army (4th ed.). London: Constable & Co. OCLC 35621223. 

Notes[edit]

^ Wavell 1968 pp. 90–1 ^ Popa, 1996. Page 23. ^ Giannasi, Pages 146-48. ^ Chase, 1995. Page 90 ^ Later each regiment. ^ Half battalion

External links[edit]

Italian military report the capture of 300 British paratroopers by part of the Bersaglieri Photos

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