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55th Infantry division Savona


Staff member
by david » Sun Mar 21, 2004 4:57 am
Could any one give me any information about this units service in North Africa, post March 1941. O.O.B; TO&E; History etc.



by michele » Mon Mar 22, 2004 12:51 am
Infantry Division "Savona'":

15th Infantry Rgt.
16th Infantry Rgt.
12th Artillery Rgt.

The division surrendered near Halfaya in January 1942. I have to check my sources for more information.


by david » Mon Mar 22, 2004 3:20 am
Yes, that much information I had already. It is more in depth material that I require. Such as, were the Inf Regs 2 or 3 Battalion strength, what heavy equipment was used by each of the artillery regiments 6 battalions, when did the units arrive North Africa, where were they 03/41, how well & where did they fight etc etc.

Many thanks for your interest in my query, and for taking the time to reply. Any more info you can supply, always gratefully received.


by daveh » Mon Mar 22, 2004 10:46 am
Savona Division on the Sollum front. Nov 1941
2 Bns in Bardia
1st/15th IR Cirener
3rd/15th IR Cova
3rd/16th IR Frongia
1st/16th IR Sidi Omar

ie 6 Bn

The 55th Savona I D was part of X Corps 5th Army in June 1940 stationed as part of the Italian forces facing French Tunisia.

It was still in X Corps 5th Army in Dec. 1940.

The Savona was not part of the invasion of Egypt and was not involved as a division in the destruction wrought by O'Connors offensive. In MAA 349 The Italian Army 1940- 1943 (2); Africa 1940 - 43 the division is described as
shaken and weakened
at the time of the arrival of DAK, though I don't know what actions led to this situation.

The division was not involved in the initial attack undertaken by Rommel in late March/ April 1941. It would appear that in 3/41 Savona was "in reserve" somewhere in Tripolitania.

In late June 1941 the division gradually moved into the frontier defences at Sollum and certainly in 8/41 was part of the DAK itself. The division was mainly captured in the Sollum defence positions after the Operation Crusader battles.


by david » Mon Mar 22, 2004 11:03 am
Excellent reply dave h thanks very much indeed


Staff member
by michele » Tue Mar 30, 2004 12:18 am
I don't have a lot to add to the post by daveh. However, here is my info:

The "Savona" division arrived in Africa during the winter 1939-1940 as part of the X Corps.
It was a standard "binary" division.
It remained in Tripoli until autumn 1941, when it was transferred to the egyptian frontier.
Notwithstanding it should not have been involved in the events of operation Compass, it is not
surprising that it is described as "shaken and weakned" in febraury 1941, because all units of
the 5th army were stripped of men and equipment during summer-autumn 1940 to bolster the 10th army.

The frontier position in november 1941 was organized as a line of strongpoints from Halfaya to Sidi Omar: from NE to SW they were:

Sidi Omar

Moreover behind them there were also minor positions at Bir Ghirba (few km north of Cova) and Sollum (and, of course, the "fortress" Bardia). Fort Capuzzo was not hold.

The western part, of these positions, i.e. the strongpoints of Sidi Omar, Frongia, Cova, D'Avanzo, Cirene and Bir Ghirba were under the command
of gen. De Giorgis (commander of "Savona"), while the eastern part, i.e. Faltembacher, Halfaya, Sollum and Bardia were under
control of gen. Schmitt. They both were directly subordined to Rommel. Positions were manned as follows:

Sidi Omar (located at Sidi Omar, known as Lybian Omar by the english): I/16, HQ/16 and german 12.Oasen-Kompanie (maybe also 267th support weapon company/16th infantry regiment).
This position was made by five connected strongpoints. It was attacked on 22 and 23 november. On 23 the eastern part was lost.
Only the westernmost part (hold by germans and retiring italians) was hold until the end of november.
It is reported that italian 75mm AA guns were placed here (in static AA/AT role, like german 8,8cm).

Frongia (located at Omar Nuovo (=new Omar), known as sidi Omar by english): III/16 (maybe also 266th support weapon company/16th infantry regiment, in this moment I cannot find the text). This position was 3 km east from Sidi Omar and made by three connected strongpoints.
It was lost on 22 november.

Cova (located about 8 km NE from Frongia): III/15 and german 13.Oasen-Kompanie.

Bir Ghirba (north from Cova, in second line): Here was the HQ of the division, plus some troops to protect it. It was attacked by infantry but resisted.

D'Avanzo: ???

Cirener: I/15

Faltembacher: 6.Oasen-Kp (?)

Halfaya: hold, as universally known, by german I/104 with support of 8,8 com Flak guns (and some minor italian units).

Sollum: german 10.Oasen-Kompanie and HQ of the Oasen-Bataillon zbV 300, some italian engineers. "Sollum alta" (="high Sollum", that is the barracks, not the village on the sea)
fell in the first days, while the remaining part was hold util 13.1.1942.

Artillery was spread among such positions. They were prepared for all-round defense in company-sized strongpoints with wide minefields (not all completed due to shortage of mines).

Bardia: The Savona division had II/15, II/16 and 266th support weapon company of the 15th infantry regiment.
The garrison had other 2 italian bataillons, some german tropps and artillery of all kinds (and italian/german administrative units).
It is reported that 2442 italians and 2143 germans were in Bardia when italian-german units retired from Cirenaica, leaving the frontier garrisons to their fate.
It fell on 1.1.1942.

When Rommel decided to retire from Cirenaica, the more exposed positions of Bir-ghirba, Cova and D'Avanzo were retired, concentrating
the defense on Halfaya, Sollum and Faltembacher. When Bardia (and then the only supply source) fell, gen. De Giorgis auggested the evacuation by sea of the remaining units of the division.
It was refused, and an air supply (8-10 t/day of food, 6 t/day of water) was promised. But RAF prevented it.
When the division surrenderd on 17.1.1942, it still had 3819 men. Until that date it comunicated that losses were: 155 dead, 367 wounded and 1994 missed.
(so, the total strenght at start of Crusader would be 6335. It seems to me to be a bit low. Maybe these data do not include those units that were in Bardia under gen. Schmitt).


by david » Tue Mar 30, 2004 2:23 am
Thank you for a most interesting reply.


Staff member
by Basileus Romaion » Wed Mar 31, 2004 1:09 am
The following OOB for Savona division (november 1941) can be read in the book "Rommel's North Africa Campaign" by Jack Greene and Alessandro Massignani:

15th and 16th Inf. Regts.,
12th Arty. Regt. (1 battalion 100/17mm 1 battalion of 75/27mm guns),
155th Machine Gun Battalion,
4th battalion 'Genova Cavalleria'.
One "Arditi"company,
German 300th 'Oasis' battalion (part).

Do you know the TOE of 155th MG-Bn and of "Genova Cavalleria"?.
Were they part of the division or were they only attached to the division?
Maybe these units were in the remaining strongpoints for which daveh and michele do not have info.


by david » Wed Mar 31, 2004 2:18 am
No, I don't know their TO&E.; I assumed 4th Genova to be a M/G Batt, not Cavalleria, so I assume that I assumed wrong!!! I also assume both units attached to Division, but they might be integral.
More info anyone?


by daveh » Wed Mar 31, 2004 5:22 am
4th battalion 'Genova Cavalleria' was an automonous armoured car unit.
A Machine Gun Battalion was not normally part of an Infantry Division.

These units were almost certainly attached to the Savona division to boost its defence capabilities in the strongpoint line at Sollum, as were the German Oasis units.


by michele » Thu Apr 01, 2004 7:03 am
It seems to me quite strange that "Genova Cavalleria" had armoured cars, in particular during 1941. The book by Cappellano and Pignato "Gli autoveicoli da combattimento del Regio Esercito" (vol. 2) gives a list of all units that had AB but does not include "Genova Cavalleria" among them. First AB units to arrive in northern africa were "Nizza Cavalleria" (division Ariete) and the AB company of PAI batalion "Romolo Gessi" (both were at the front on october 1941 ).

The only info I have on "Genova Cavalleria" is taken from the official homepage of the italian army.
It tells that two motorized MG batalions "Genova Cavalleria" were raisen during 1935 and sent in east Africa were they partecipate to the conquer of Neghelli on 20.1.1936. During WW2 the regiment operated in Croatia and northern Africa, and distinguished itself in Sollum and Sidi Omar. There are no other details, the text ends noting that, while most of the "Genova Cavalleria" was in Dronero (CN, north-west Italy), an "alarm" batalion, raised from depot and supply units, was in Roma on 8.9.1943 and fought against germans.

I think that your original guess on a MG unit, david, has more probability to be correct.

Hope it could help. It would be interesting to know something more about this unit.


by Lupo Solitario » Thu Apr 01, 2004 10:12 am
during WWII, genova cavalry mobilized 2 MG and 7 dismounted squadrons but I don't know which operated in africa


by david » Thu Apr 08, 2004 6:55 am
Machine Gun Battalion? or Armoured Car Battalion?

I certainly don,t know!

My two learned friends have different sources and different results.

I have no desire to cause any upset, but can any one resolve this one?

If it has to remain unresolved then so be it.

Once again, thanks to ALL who have contributed to this discussion.

Dave W


by daveh » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:08 am
re: 4th battalion 'Genova Cavalleria' as an armoured car unit.

My reference is the OOB for 17/11/41 given by Greene and Massignani in their Rommel's North African Campaign. The unit is referred to as

4th battalion (gruppo squadroni) 'Genova Cavalleria' armoured cars.

Such descriptions as I have of the fighting involving the Savona do not mention Italian armoured cars. The fact that better references than mine do not show AB series armoured cars allocated to the 4th battalion 'Genova Cavalleria' suggests that this may have been an MG unit. This type of unit was perhaps more in keeping with the defensive stance of Savona and is a type known to have been mobilzed by the genova cavalry, as noted by Lupo Solitario.


by david » Thu Apr 08, 2004 11:23 am
Thanks again Daveh.

Perhaps that clears up the query.


by Andreas » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:22 am
Does anyone have more information on de Giorgis? What happened to him after 8 Sept. 43?

Thanks a lot in advance!

All the best



by david » Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:07 pm
Has anyone ever seen anything claiming that there was a VII CC.NN Battaglione attached To Divisione Savona in Early 1941. It was from the 7th Legione.
I've got this pencilled in, but wanted to checkit's veracity.