Legnano Mechanized Brigade

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Brigata Meccanizzata Legnano
CoA mil ITA mec bde legnano.png
Coat of Arms of the Legnano Mechanized Brigade
Active 21 October 1975 - 31 December 1997
Country Italy
Branch Italian Army
Type Infantry
Role Armored warfare
Part of 1975-1986 Centauro Armoured Division
1986-1997 3rd Army Corps
Garrison/HQ Bergamo

The Legnano Mechanized Brigade was a mechanized brigade of the Italian Army. Its core units were mechanized Infantry battalions. The brigade's headquarters was in the city of Bergamo in Lombardy. The name of the brigade commemorates the Lombard League victory in the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and its coat of arms depicts the Monument to the Warrior of Legnano in the centre of Legnano.

History

World War II

The Legnano was activated as an infantry division on 8 February 1934. Initially the division consisted of the 7th Infantry Regiment Cuneo, 8th Infantry Regiment Cuneo, 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo and 27th Artillery Regiment. On 24 March 1939 the division was split into the 6th Infantry Division Cuneo and 58th Infantry Division Legnano. After the split the Legnano fielded the 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo, 68th Infantry Regiment Palermo and 58th Artillery Regiment.

In 1940 the division remained in Fenestrelle as a reserve force during the Italian invasion of southern France. After the Italian invasion of Greece in October 1940 bogged down under stiff Greek resistance the Legnano division was dispatched to Albania in January 1941 to augment the Italian forces under pressure by the Greek counteroffensive.

In November 1942 the division participated in the occupation of Vichy France and remained afterwards in France on occupation duty. In August 1943 the division returned to Italy - first to Bologna and then to Brindisi in the South of Italy. After Allied forces had landed on the Italian peninsula and an armistice between Italy and the Allies had been signed, the division stayed loyal to the Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, who fled with the royal court from Rome to Brindisi.

Already on 26 September 1943 the division formed the Italian 1st Motorized Group, which was to aid in the allied war effort. The 1st Motorized Group consisted of the following units:

  • 1st Motorized Group Command (formed with the men of the 58th Infantry Division Legnano Command Group)
    • 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo
    • V Anti-tank Battalion (newly formed)
    • 11th Motorized Artillery Regiment (from the 104th Motorised Division Mantova)
    • Engineer Company

In the next months the division lost all its units, which were needed on the front lines. On 17 February 1944 the division was deactivated after its last units had joined other units.

On 24 September 1944 the I Brigade of the Italian Liberation Corps (Corpo Italiano di Liberazione, or CIL), was renamed as 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 consisted of the remnants of the 3rd Alpini Regiment and 4th Bersaglieri Regiment. The Combat Group was equipped with British weapons and materiel.

The Legnano entered 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.

Cold War

After the war the combat group was garrisoned in Bergamo. When the 67th Infantry Regiment Palermo returned to the combat group on 15 October 1946 the group became once more the Legnano Infantry Division. The division also received the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group. In 1947 the two infantry regiments changed their name from Palermo to Legnano and the division was augmented with the Horse Artillery Regiment Volòire.

In the next years the division was motorized with American equipment and the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group was increased to full regiment with three battalions of armoured and mechanized cavalry. The division was the only major unit of the III Territorial Military Command in Milan until the command became the III Army Corps on 1 July 1957. Subsequently the Centauro Armoured Division in Novara, the Cremona Infantry Division and Taurinense Alpine Brigade both in Turin entered the III Corps.

On 1 May 1958 the 4th Armoured Infantry Regiment joined the division. The regiment consisted of the XX Tank Battalion on M47 Patton and the II Bersaglieri Battalion on M113. At the same time the 3rd Cavalry Reconnaissance Regiment was reduced to Divisional Reconnaissance Group Legnano. After the four artillery groups of the 11th Artillery Regiment had been re-equipped with M101 105mm and M114 155mm howitzers, the Horse Artillery Regiment Volòire was transferred to the III Army Corps.

The structure of the division before the 1975 reform was as follows:

  • Legnano Motorized Division, in Bergamo
    • Division Command, in Bergamo
    • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 004.png 4th Armoured Infantry Regiment, in Legnano
    • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 067.png 67th Infantry Regiment Legnano, in Montorio Veronese
      • Command Company, in Montorio Veronese
      • I Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • II Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • III Battalion, in Montorio Veronese
      • IV Mechanized Battalion, in Montorio Veronese, with M113 armoured personnel carriers
      • Anti-tank Company, in Montorio Veronese
    • CoA mil ITA btg fanteria 068.png 68th Infantry Regiment Legnano, in Bergamo
      • Command Company, in Bergamo
      • I Battalion, in Bergamo
      • II Battalion, in Como
      • III Battalion, in Brescia
      • IV Mechanized Battalion, in Monza, with M113 armoured personnel carriers
      • Anti-tank Company, in Monza
    • CoA mil ITA gr artiglieria 011.png 11th Field Artillery Regiment, in Cremona
    • CoA mil ITA rgt cavalleria 07.png VII Reconnaissance Squadrons Group "Lancieri di Milano", in Monza
    • CoA mil ITA btg genio 051.png Legnano Engineer Battalion, in Verona
    • Legnano Signal Battalion, in Bergamo
    • Legnano Light Airplanes Section, in Orio al Serio, with L-19E planes
    • Legnano Helicopter Section, in Orio al Serio, with AB 206 helicopters
    • Legnano Logistic Services Groupement, in Presezzo

In 1975 the Italian Army undertook a major reorganization of it forces: the regimental level was abolished and battalions came under direct command of multi-arms brigades. Therefore, on 29 October 1975 the Legnano Motorized Division was split to form the Legnano Mechanized Brigade in Bergamo and the Brescia Mechanized Brigade in Brescia. The I and IV battalions of the 68th Infantry Regiment Legnano and the battalions of the 4th Armoured Infantry Regiment were used to form the Legnano brigade. The III and IV battalion of the 67th Infantry Regiment along with the III Battalion of the 68th Infantry Regiment were used to form the Brescia Mechanized Brigade. The 11th Field Artillery Regiment and its I Group were disbanded, and I and III groups transferred to the Horse Artillery Regiment Volòire respectively the 3rd Mechanized Brigade Goito. The IV Heavy Field Artillery Group became the 11th Field Artillery Group Monferrato and remained with the Legnano brigade. The VII Reconnaissance Squadrons Group "Lancieri di Milano" was transferred to the Mantova Mechanized Division, while the Signal Battalion, Engineer Battalion and Logistic Services Groupement were split among the two new brigades. After the reform the Legnano's authorized strength was 4,733 men (272 Officers, 637 non-commissioned officers and 3,824 soldiers) and it joined the Centauro Armoured Division. After the reform the brigade consisted of the following units:

  • CoA mil ITA mec bde Legnano 1975-1986.png Legnano Mechanized Brigade, in Bergamo
    • Legnano Command and Signal Battalion, in Bergamo
    • CoA mil ITA btg carri 020.png 20th Tank Battalion M.O. Pentimalli, in Legnano, with Leopard 1A2 main battle tanks
    • CoA mil ITA rgt bersaglieri 02.png 2nd Bersaglieri Battalion Governolo, in Legnano, with M113 armoured personnel carriers
    • CoA mil ITA rgt fanteria 067.png 67th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Montelungo, in Monza, with M113 armoured personnel carriers
    • CoA mil ITA btg fanteria 068.png 68th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Palermo, in Bergamo, with M113 armoured personnel carriers
    • CoA mil ITA gr artiglieria 011.png 11th Field Artillery Group Monferrato, in Cremona, with M114 155mm howitzers
    • CoA mil ITA btg logistico legnano.png Legnano Logistic Battalion, in Presezzo
    • Legnano Anti-tank Company, in Monza
    • Legnano Engineer Company, in Bergamo
Soldiers of the 2nd Bersaglieri Battalion "Governolo" on patrol with the Multinational Force in Lebanon in 1982

In 1982 and 1983 the brigade provided personnel for the Italian contingent of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. In 1986 the Italian Army abolished the divisional level and the Legnano came under direct command of the 3rd Army Corps. On 30 November 1989 the 68th Mechanized Infantry Battalion Palermo was disbanded.

The Italian Army began a massive downsizing after the end of the Cold War in therefore beginning in 1991 the Legnano received and lost units repeatedly over the next years: In June 1991 the brigade received the 4th Tank Battalion and 18th Bersaglieri Battalion from the disbanded Goito Mechanized Brigade. The same year the Legnano received the 52nd Field Artillery Group from the disbanded Brescia Mechanized Brigade, while the 11th Field Artillery Group Monferrato was disbanded on 27 August 1991. In 1993 the brigade provided troops for the United Nations Operation in Somalia II. At the same time the battalions of the brigade returned to use their name regimental names for traditional reasons.

In 1995 the Army began a further round of cuts which included the Legnano Mechanized Brigade. Therefore, on 5 October 1995 the 67th Mechanized Infantry Regiment Legnano was disbanded. The same year the brigade transferred the 4th Tank Regiment and 52nd Self-propelled Field Artillery Regiment to the Centauro Armoured Brigade, followed in 1996 by the 2nd Bersaglieri and 3rd Bersaglieri regiments.

On 16 September 1996 the brigade became the Legnano Support Units Command with the following support units of the 3rd Army Corps:

  • CoA mil ITA mec bde legnano.png Legnano Support Units Command, in Bergamo

However already on 31 December 1997 the Legnano Support Units Command was disbanded and the units came under direct command of the 3rd Army Corps.

References

External links

  • Italian Army Homepage: Legnano History

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