Sakhalia NetHistory of the RailwayGraphics DivisionBaykal.esAcceptance of cookiesAcceptance of cookies

You are logged off and have no access to the contents of this section!

Please log in or register. Or you may alternatively visit the articles list to search for more content.

DISCLAIMER: This website discourages its users from submitting duplicated content. If this article contains such and you, the visitor, are the creator of the original content, please report it to the administrator of this website instead of reporting the website itself. You can send a report if you are a registered user or alternatively use the e-mail address provided at the bottom of the Privacy Policy.

Organization of the Black Brigades


By Sakhal

After the events of September 1943, Mussolini, freed from the prison in the Great Sasso and brought to Germany, started to conceive a plan which, with German help, would give birth to the Government of the Italian Social Republic. The speech transmitted by radio the very night of his arrival to Germany amazed many but also relieved a good number of persons: the Italian fascists, who had found an enemy turned into an ally and an ex-ally of whom was still unknown how would react. The disbandment of the Army, the behavior of the Government and other many things had created then a state of chaos. This was even worse for the convinced fascists, because with the disappearance of the Duce and the end of the activities of the Party they had lost whom could show them a line of behavior. Besides, there was the logical fear to vengeance and retaliation from those who already openly declared themselves as opposed to the regime. Because of this the words of a tired and almost unrecognizable Mussolini, even if not able to "electrify" the mood of the listeners, contributed to raise hope among the most loyal followers. There were many that, when emerging the Italian Social Republic, left behind possessions and work, moving to the north with their families.

But after the preceding bad experiencies, and also due to parallel reasons of increasing weight, the Republican Fascist Party decided to dispose its defense by its own means, also because the Republican Army was for the time being in phase of organization, and later it would not be certainly used as bodyguard for the affiliates of the Party. The 20th November 1943 it was born the Republican National Guard, under the command of Renato Ricci, ex-chief of the fascist militias, which would be the fourth armed corps of the Army. But still this was not what was sought. Already in October of that year had emerged formations which reminded to the old action squads from the 1920s. But they were irregular formations that died as easily as they were born, without regulations nor uniforms, armed as they could afford. Neither several attempts to militarize the Party gave good results, because the National Guard was oppossed to the formation of special units, in which they saw a sort of competition. But in the end, the secretary of the Party, Pavolini, obtained from the Duce, with a decree signed the 30th July 1944, authorization to "constitute the auxiliary corps of the action squads Black Shirts" as a "civilian militia at the service of the Italian Social Republic", whose leader would be "the secretary minister of the Party". To him would be subordinated all of the affiliates who were still not integrated in the already existing formations and all of those who asked for it.

Each Brigade would wear "the name of a fallen for the cause of the Republican Fascism". So, the Black Brigades were the last attempt of the Fascism to force its affiliates to collaborate more actively in the cause. It was a mistake, as it was another mistake the mandatory enlistment in the Army. This was demonstrated by the fact that in the end of the Italian Social Republic all of the formations, either military or not, composed by volunteers were still complete and efficient, whereas the others had high rates of desertion. The Black Brigades, born as a sort of territorial militia and not being a military corps properly said, had no ranks in their hyerarchy, but only the functions of those. Regarding the uniform, the regulations established black shirt or jersey, trousers of military style and distinctive of the Party. In the collar, the formations wore ensigns of military style with their own colors and marks. Common to all of them were the red Republican Fasces. A myriad of diverse ensigns (shields, plates and distinctives) was later adopted by the militiamen, who often modified them at their liking. The ones shown in the picture below are the only ones that could be considered as "official" among the known ones. The armament was heterogeneous as well and often improvised. The Black Brigades should have been 36, one for each province. The list below includes the ones officially checked and which were operative. In April 1945 there were integrated in their ranks around 30000 men. They were employed for cleaning activities to support the regular or the German troops, or as garrison troops against the danger of the partisans.

Organization of the Black Brigades

Diverse distinctives from the Black Brigades. Yellow cord designates a General Commander, yellow-white cord designates a General Sub Commander and Battalion Chief, white cord designates a Head of Company, red-white cord designates a Platoon Leader and red cord designates a Squad Leader. Pectoral plates belonged to the 16th Black Brigade "Dante Gervasini" and to the Squad "Amatore Sciesa" formed in 1943 and later transformed into the 8th Black Brigade "Aldo Resega". Arm distinctives belonged to the Black Brigade "Benito Mussolini", the 15th Black Brigade "Sergio Gatti" and the 22nd Black Brigade "Antonio Faggion".

1st Black Brigade "Ather Capelli" from Turin.
2nd Black Brigade "Attilio Prato" from Alessandria.
3rd Black Brigade "Emilio Picot" from Aosta.
4th Black Brigade "Luigi Viale" from Asti.
6th Black Brigade "Augusto Cristina" from Novara.
7th Black Brigade "Bruno Ponzecchi" from Vercelli.
8th Black Brigade "Aldo Resega" from Milan.
9th Black Brigade "Giuseppe Cortesi" from Bergamo.
12th Black Brigade "Augusto Felisari" from Cremona.
13th Black Brigade "Marcello Turchetti" from Mantua.
14th Black Brigade "Alberto Alfieri" from Pavia.
15th Black Brigade "Sergio Gatti" from Sondrio.
16th Black Brigade "Dante Gervasini" from Varese.
17th Black Brigade "Bartolomeo Azara" from Venetia.
19th Black Brigade "Romolo Gori" from Rovigo.
20th Black Brigade "Francesco Capellini" from Treviso.
21st Black Brigade "Stefano Rizzardi" from Verona.
22nd Black Brigade "Antonio Faggion" from Vicenza.
23rd Black Brigade "Eugenio Facchini" from Bolonia.
24th Black Brigade "Igino Chisellini" from Ferrara.
28th Black Brigade "Pippo Astorri" from Piacenza.
29th Black Brigade "Ettore Muti" from Ravena.
30th Black Brigade "Umberto Rosi" from Reggio Emilia.
31st Black Brigade "Silvio Parodi" from Genoa.
32nd Black Brigade "Antonio Padoan" from Imperia.
33rd Black Brigade "Tullio Bertoni" from La Spezia.
34th Black Brigade "Giovanni Briatore" from Savona.

There are also reports of a Black Brigade "Benito Mussolini" from Lucca; most probably it was the Brigade composed by the Tuscan fascists who formed part of the column which accompanied Mussolini near the Swiss border before his capture.

Armored car of the Black Brigade "Benito Mussolini"

The 27th April 1945 it ended, next to the waters of Lake Como, the History of Fascism in Italy. Captured the Duce and his main chiefs, of the columns that should have marched towards Valtellina to constitute the last armed stronghold of the Republican Fascism barely remained some scattered groups that would soon surrender. But despite of all, it can be said that there was a last battle of the Fascism. However it was not a true battle, not even a skirmish, in the full sense of the word. More properly it was a firefight between a handful of men who had decided to end in an adventurous way - as it had been started as well - their political existence and the members of a partisan formation. When the chiefs that were part of the column of Mussolini realized that the partisans of "Pedro" had no intention to let them pass along with the Germans of Lieutenant Fallmeyer, they decided to go back to reorganize the few Black Shirts at their disposal. Meanwhile, the Duce had tried to reach Germany disguised as a Flak soldier. We know how bad this ended for him, but it is a fact that these men, after having tried to save their leader, preferred, as Pavolini said, to play a last card "submachine gun in hand".

During several hours they were deployed in the road to Dongo onboard a large armored vehicle which was defined as "armored car". Actually it was simply a truck, specifically a Lancia 3 RO, which belonged to the Black Brigade from Lucca, and which had been armored with steel plates in an artisan workshop. The cronical scarcity of war materials that afflicted the Army of the Italian Social Republic was even worse in the Black Brigades, which often resorted to these fortune solutions to keep up appearances. Actually an armored truck remains being what it is, only useful to escort in a road a column of cars that travel not too fast. In the firefight that happened later, projectiles from the partisans hit the engine and killed the driver, immediately sealing the fate of the group. The Black Brigade "Benito Mussolini", whose name was painted in the sides of the vehicle, was a rather irregular formation, to the point that it had abandoned the rule of being named after a fallen for the cause of the Republican Fascism, to take the name of the very Mussolini instead - who ironically would be soon a fallen himself -. Proof of this was the existence of a particular distinctive previously shown in this article. The number of the Brigade should be the 36, or at least it seems so, judging by the only existing - or known - photo of the truck. The fact of having had to abandon its home town, while the Black Brigades were essentially "static" formations, contributed additionally to the exceptionality of its existence. Regarding the armored truck, it was a unique model of insignificant military value and effectiveness, but regarding such tragic period on History it is a symbol of a tormented country, torn by an atrocious fratricidal fight, which despite of the horrors of the war would recover its identity.

Organization of the Black Brigades

Armored truck of the Black Brigade "Benito Mussolini" from Lucca. Weight: about 6000 kilograms; length: 7.45 meters; width: 2 meters; height: 4 meters; span: 41 centimeters; maximum armor: about 9 millimeters; engine: Diesel 102 of 93 horsepower; maximum speed: 35-40 kilometers/hour; operational range: about 400 kilometers; crew: five plus 10-15 passengers; armament: one 20 -millimeter cannon and three 8-millimeter machine guns.

Categories: Logistics - Events - World War Two - 20th Century - [General]

E-mail:

Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2015-08-28


This article has been seen/reloaded times since 2017-03-05 (or since publishing date).

This article has been voted 0 times.

You are logged off and have no access to the contents of this section!