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Camicie Nere (The MVSN & CCNN Combat Units)

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C.C.N.N. – Camicie Nere (the Black Shirt Combat Units)

In October 1939 Mussolini announced his plan to create 142 Battalions for combat service, forming them into Combat Legions (each of 2 CCNN Battalions). The Legions would be incorporated into existing Army formations (principally Infantry Divisions). The basic organization of a Black Shirt Legion was:

CCNN LEGION HEADQUARTERS COMPANY
LEGION HQ PLATOON (102 men)
CCNN LEGION MG COMPANY
COMPANY HQ PLATOON (101 men)
3 MG PLATOONS (each 37 men & 4 HMG)
2 CCNN BATTALIONS, each:
BATTALION HQ PLATOON (65 men)
BATTALION RECON/SCOUT PLATOON (41 men)
3 RIFLE COMPANIES, each:
COMPANY HQ PLATOON (63 men & 3 45mm Mortars)
2 RIFLE PLATOONS (each 37 men & 4 LMG)

The following transport was also allocated:
CCNN LEGION HQ:2 Bicycles, 2 Motorcycles, 1 Car, 1 Truck, ? Carts, 9 Animals.
CCNN MG COMPANY:4 Carts, 41 Animals.
2 CCNN BATTALION HQ:each 5 Bicycles, 2 Trucks, 5 Carts, and 16 Animals.
2 CCNN RECON/SCOUT PLATOONS:none.
6 CCNN RIFLE COMPANIES:each 1 Bicycle, 20 Animals.

Note that in some cases the Battalions had 3 Platoons per Company with only 3 LMG each.

Black Shirt Legions were identified by number, while Battalions were identified by number and name (the name would be the region the unit came from, or a famous Italian Fascist Hero – including current members of the Fascist Grand Council). In the A.O.I. (Africa Orientale Italiana – Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea) during the invasion of Ethiopia 7 CCNN Divisions were formed with the hope of establishing a reputation and an Espirit du Corps. Many of these troops subsequently served in the Spanish Civil War (on the Nationalist Side), where casualties were very heavy.

CCNN Divisions that served in Ethiopia (A.O.I.) and Spain

1st 23rd March CCNN Division
2nd 28th October CCNN Division
3rd 21st April CCNN Division
4th 3rd January CCNN Division
5th 1st February CCNN Division
6th Tevere CCNN Division
7th Cirene CCNN Division

These troops provided an experienced Cadre for the new (1940) divisions to be built around, however due to the losses in Spain only sufficient cadre could be provided for 3½ Divisions (which were duly formed in Libya). This Cadre however did go someway towards compensating for the lack of equipment and training in these divisions, but even so, the poor equipment and weapons establishment ensured they would struggle in a modern war.

At this time, Mussolini also envisaged the CCNN Legions as being the Arditi (Shock Troops or Elite) of the Army, despite their lack of heavy weapons, and the need for more extensive training.

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Comments

  1. Hi!
    I have a Round Copper Pendant that I think was from the Black Shirts. It is about 1″ Diameter with a Chain Hole at the Top. On one Side it has a Palm Tree, a Knife “X” on the handel on Top of (3)-Spears, and the Words “270 LEGIONC CCNN LIBICA INVINCIBILC”. On the other Side, it has a Map with (3) Places called “TRAPANI”, “AGRIGENTO” & “CNNA”. Around the Perimeter it has “VAMPA”FRECCE” & “LPVI”. The Map has (2) Arrows to the Right Side and (2) what looks like to me, “Long Dog Heads with their Mouths Open”.
    I have been trying to find out what this is since I have had it. It was in with some things that my Father had and was past down to me when he Past. My Dad was in WWII so, if that helps please let me know!
    Thanks!

  2. In the text about the “M” battalions it reads; “For further reading on the M units see the separate article on this website.”

    But I can’t find this article anywhere?

    Thanks in advance,
    Glenning

    • Glenning – This was John Moher’s article and it probably pertained to his website. I no longer have his email address to assist you. The text has now been deleted.

  3. Dan Montagano says:

    I would like to note that there is an omission in the list of CCNN units that served in Yugoslavia. The 81st CCNN battalion was active there and took part in battles fought against the Udarne Brigade at Dolnij Poloj during October of 1942. Incidentally, this was also the setting for the last Cavalry charge ever mounted by the Italian Army. And finally, the 81st battalion was designated a “M” battalion shortly before being sent to Yugoslavia.

    • I have discussed this RedShirt issue here before.The wife says that this is the name that the M Battalion soldiers identified themselves as.They were proud of it.