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Guardia alla Frontiera

#1 User is offline   asiaticus 

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Posted 22 August 2003 - 09:08 AM

What was the organization of the Guardia alla Frontiera in WWII. I see they appeared in the oob for the invasion of France in 1940. Was a frontier guard sector a company or battalion or just what was it.?
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#2 User is offline   daveh 

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 10:07 AM

Pre !939 the Frontier Guard had the task of defending the forntier using fortress artillery.

In 1939 its task was still frontier defence but it added supporting arms such as infantry to add the task of being a covering force.

Frontier Guards HQ were attached to XI Army Corps

the Frontier Guard had:
11 Frontier Guard commands each commanded by a Brigadier General assigned to the HQ of the corps area touching the frontier
1 Frontier Guard infantry regiment: to provide training and replacements
9 Frontier Guard artillery regiments
1 independant Frontier Guard group
a varying number of covering sectors, these had subsectors and minor specialist units of infantry artillery and engineers. The sector had a depot and its strength depended on local circumstances.

some of the infantry came from the Frontier Guard Infantry regiment and other personnel generally from the army corps.

source primarily
Mussolini's soldiers by R Tyre ISBN 1 85310 401 9
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#3 User is offline   asiaticus 

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Posted 23 August 2003 - 05:54 PM

Is there any info on the usual composition and strength of one of these Frontier Guard sectors?

Did these Frontier Guard artillery regiments have a variety of guns or a fixed compostion of certain calibers?

I assume both manned permanant border fortifications / positions?
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#4 User is offline   daveh 

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 07:17 PM

I have been searching for more information on the Frontier Guard and have found very little specific in english. Fortress Europe by Kauffmann and Jurga ISBN 1 85367 341 2 lloks at Italian fortifications and for instance mentions that the occidental front ie the border with France ran for 487km was divided into 10 sectors of which
I Corps was responsible for Sectors VI, VII, VIII, IX, X
II Corps for II, III, IV
III Corps for I, V

there were 3 major defended areas of which the most important was between Moginevro and Moncenisio.

Moncenisio was sector IX/a and had some 30 defensive works with MG, AT guns mortars and larger guns.

However no figures are given for other sectors or the troops manning them.

The variety of weapons outlined for the Moncenisio area suggest that the identified defensive needs of a sector determined the weapons used and that the Frontier Guard produced the required manpower.

the defences were arranged in 3 lines:

Zona di Sicurezza: Security zone designed to prevent surprise attacks and impede an enemy's advance.
Zona di Resistenza: main defence zone includine larger fortifications .
Zona di Schieramento: Marshalling area for mobilizing infantry and artillery units and this area also included most of the AA units.
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#5 User is offline   asiaticus 

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:45 PM

I see sort, of a customized force for the situation. Thanks thats makes things pretty clear.
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#6 User is offline   Caspar 

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 09:19 PM

asiaticus said:

What was the organization of the Guardia alla Frontiera in WWII. I see they appeared in the oob for the invasion of France in 1940. Was a frontier guard sector a company or battalion or just what was it.?


The Guardia alla Frontiera was primarily established to man the Vallo Alpino, the Italian defense line of the thirties. Although these troops already manned the line in 1934 the corps was officially created on 27 December 1937. The uniform of the border troops was almost identical to that of the Alpini, the Italian mountain troops. The only difference was their beret instead of the typical head-gear with the feather of the Alpini.

In peace time the border troops occupied all the casemates. However since the living condition there were not very good only small detachments were stationed in the works. The rest of the crews lived in larger barracks behind the line and relieved the detachments every four or five days. The number of crew member was standardised as you can see in this scheme.

The border troops were not recruited in the Alps, since men of this area already served with the Alpini, but in other parts of Italy. The G.a.F. had its own infantry, artillery and engineers units. It provided both the crew of the casemates as the mobile troops in the Vallo Alpino. During a war the border troops would be placed under the command of the division in their sector.

In 1939 the Guardia alla Frontiera consisted of:
- 20.000 men;
- 6.000 machine guns;
- About 1.000 mortars;
- More than 100 anti-tank guns;
- 1.000 guns of 75 mm;
- 1.000 guns of 149 mm.
Before the start of the war against France in June 1940 the corps had grown to 50.000 men, reinforced with 22 battalions of Alpini and 28 battalions of Black Shirts. To be honestly I am not sure about the number of guns, since this seems to big when looking at the number of men.

The artillery units were divided in three types:
- Approntamento normale
- Approntamento Accelerato
- Siempre Pronto
Their armament included several heavy guns, e.g. two 380 mm howitzers and four 420 mm mortars on the western front. For those curious about these weapons, only one of them fired a single round in 1940, although two 420 mm mortars were used by the Germans in 1944.

Organisation

Since it would be impossible and unnecessary to control the entire Vallo Alpino from one central headquarters the line was divided in sectors, each with its own units and commander. This units were part of the G.a.F., the border troops. The sectors were named as follows:

Western Italy Northern Italy
I Settore (Bassa Roja)
II Settore (Alta Roja)
III Settore (Stura)
IV Settore (Maira-Po)
V Settore (Media Roja)
VI Settore (Germanasca-Pellice)
VII Settore (Monginevro)
VIII Settore (Bardonecchia)
IX Settore (Montcenisio)
X Settore (Baltea)

Northern Italy
XIII Settore (Venosta)
XIV (Isarco)
XV Settore (Pusteria)
XVI Settore (Cadore-Carnia)
XVII Settore (Tarvisiano)
XVIII-XXI Settore (Alto Isonzo)
XXII Settore (Idria)
XXIII Settore (Piro-Postumia)
XXV Settore (Timavo)
XXVI Settore (Clana)
XXVII Settore (Fiume)

Every sector was divided in two or three 'sottosettore' or sub-sector. Every sottosettore was composed of several 'gruppo' or groups. Once again this was divided in some 'caposaldo', a group of several "centri" or "opere" (Some casemates with underground connections). The caposaldo was the center of the defence. It was commanded by a colonel and was independent with its own observation post(s). For an example of the IX Settore Moncenisio you can take a look at http://www.fortweb.n...organiframe.htm

Here is a part of the law establishing the G.a.F. dated 28 April 1937 number 833 published in the "Gazzetta Ufficiale numero 139" of 17 June 1937:
Quote
"Ritenuta la necessità urgente ed assoluta di rendere le grandi unità del Regio esercito interamente disponibili per le operazioni e di assicurare, d'altra parte, in ogni eventualità, l'immediata ed efficace difesa delle frontiere affidandola ad uno speciale corpo di nuova istituzione;
Abbiamo decretato e decretiamo :
Art. 1. E' istituito uno speciale corpo del Regio esercito denominato
Art. 2. La Guardia alla Frontiera é ordinata in settori di copertura retti da generali di brigata o da colonnelli. Ciascun settore di copertura comprende un numero vario di unità minori. Per ciascun settore di copertura, di massima, esiste un deposito territoriale.
Art. 3. Gli ufficiali e i sottufficiali assegnati alla Guardia alla Frontiera sono compresi negli organici degli ufficiali e dei sottufficiali delle varie armi (esclusa quella dei Carabinieri Reali)
Art. 4. La ripartizione del personale fra i vari enti della Guardi alla Frontiera é stabilita dal Ministro per la guerra con apposite tabelle graduali e numeriche.

Il presente decreto, che avrà vigore da 20 dicembre 1934 XIII, sarà presentato al Parlamento per la sua conversione in legge."
Unquote

A small note for Daveh: Moncenisio was the IX Settore, IX/a is the "Sottosettore Clapier". The G.a.F. had little fortress artillery. To give you an idea: in 1940 there were only 101 guns of 75 mm in gun casemates, while five fortress batteries had 100 mm howitzers, all the other batteries had standard field guns (75 to 420 mm). The task of the G.a.F. was defending the border with its own weapons (Infantry and artillery), but also be able to mount small counter attacks to prevent a breakthrough.

For more information:
http://www.fortweb.net (My own website)
http://www.arpnet.it/assam (with several books about the Vallo Alpino with info about the G.a.F.)

Best regards,


Caspar
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Posted 03 September 2003 - 06:39 AM

Were the Frontier Guards later used for the Coastal Defense Divisions?
The equipment of the formations seems similar.
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#8 User is offline   Barbarigo 

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 08:48 AM

After the Armistice part of G.A.F. entered in G.N.R. delle Montagne e delle Foreste (Mountain's and Forestal's G.N.R.). I don't remember if it served also in Costal Battalions.
Paolino
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#9 User is offline   Lupo Solitario 

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 09:57 PM

asiaticus said:

Were the Frontier Guards later used for the Coastal Defense Divisions?
The equipment of the formations seems similar.


subastantially not, coastal divisions were formed with mobilized personnel and old materials, anyway some coastal unit could have incorporated some GAF unit
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Posted 04 September 2003 - 06:27 AM

Ok. thanks for the clarification.
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