The Italian Folgore Parachute Division

...Operations in North Africa1940-1943

Title: The Italian Folgore Parachute Division
Author: Paolo Morisi
Publisher: Helion & Co
ISBN: 978-1-913336-04-2

While there is plenty of material about the German Afrika Korps in North Africa and a focus on their efforts, perhaps there is a tendency to gloss over the important contribution that Italian forces played in the conflict. This 206-page soft-cover book is set to set at least some of that record straight. In particular by looking at an elite Italian unit, the Folgore Parachute Division.
The book is broken down into 6 chapters, plus a couple of appendices. It starts with coverage of the Recruitment and Training of the new elite parachute division. How they were given distinctive uniforms and weapons, also plenty of live ammunition for training. Volunteers, they were being trained in readiness for an invasion of Malta, an operation that was planned but never actually took place. In the end they were sent to North Africa, to assist the Axis forces there. Chapter 3 looks at their action leading up to the Battle of El Alamein, where they found themselves on the Southern Sector in a defence position behind 2 minefields, and their tactics withstood significant Allied night attacks during Operation Lightfoot. The action is described in good detail. With casualties and losses to POWs, the Folgore was eventually withdrawn after the breakthrough in the North, but they had to do so largely on foot, manhandling many of their heavy weapons. Replacements were made and they fought it out in Tunisia at the end of the North African campaign. A final chapter draws some conclusions and assesses the performance of the Division, and everything is rounded off with an Order of Battle and a list of recipients of the Gold Medal for Military Valor.
From the outbreak of WW2 Italy did not have the kind of heavy industry really needed for large scale AFV production, it didn't have the money to invest in it nor the military will to develop what was needed. Large parts of the Italian military were poorly changed, partly due to lack of funds, it had little or no armoured troop carriers, not enough motorised transport and some equipment that was really out of date even at the opening stages of the conflict. This book does well to inform us about the extra training and new equipment supplied for the division and the valiant defence they put up in response to the attacks in the Southern sector of the Battle of El Alamein.
Thanks to the distributor, Casemate UK, for our example.