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Italian Fortifications in Africa

#1 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 08:10 AM

Since I hade a "deviated discussion" with forum member Orlando Lorenzini (Pedro) which lead us to the construction of the Italian Fortifications in Africa, I thought it would be good to open a separate thread for that subject. Hope that the moderator agrees to put it here - a fortification is a weapon as well (I would not know to which subfora to put it else) :wink: .

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I would like to start the discussion here with a small and nearly destroyed fortress along the VIA BALBIA, about 25kms North of AGEDABIA. Its layout is rather strange: Rhombically; with big towers in two of the corners and small towers in the two others. Are there any other photos of this fort or does anybody ave further information about?

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#2 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 08:12 AM

This would be the layout. One of the buildings contained the entrance gate. The walls are gone.

Next to the strange layout I wonder, why all the walls are completely gone. Maybe they were made of clay-bricks and not of stone as the towers?

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#3 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 11:00 AM

Dear Kuno,hello!:
Your idea for to create one posting diferent to "oild fields in Lybia" for to study the Italian fortifications in the North Africa is really good;this matter is few studied in the history of the Second World War,and when this question has been treated,it has been with few deep.
When in the books of the desert War appears the Italian forts always appears Capuzzo fort situated near the frontier between Lybia and Egypt.
For to study how were the Italian fortifications camps in the battle of Sidi Barrani,there is a great and important description in the book of Sir Alan Moorehead titled "African trilogy";I read this wonderful book in Spanish traslation and it is very good,Moorehead counts how were the Italian fortifications camps;in they had bottles of Italian wine named "chianti" (I believe,I speak from the memory now),also in the officers rooms had perfums as colonies,in others rooms had tomatoes tins for the "spaghettis" (I love the spaguetti with tomatoe),etc.Evidently in the Italians fortifications also had machine-guns,armoured cars,light tanks,guns,and others weapons,and to round to the Italians forts also had barbed wire and minefields.
Is very interesting the fightings surround the Italian fortifications;in North Africa had greats battles in the first moments of the desert war in severals forts as Madalena,Capuzzo and especially the fort of Girba,there the Italians gained the battle,that battle was the firts Italian victory against the British Army in North Africa.
Well dear Kuno,you are the great teacher of the Italians fortifications,I hope that my furnish is useful for the study of the Italians forts.
One great salute from Spain,yours:
Pedro "Orlando Lorenzini"
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#4 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 12:17 PM

Forgot: The name of the fort at AGEDABIA (in italian time) was "Ridotta Pessana"; as such it is mentioned in an old wartime map.
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#5 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 02 October 2007 - 12:33 PM

Dear Forum-Community; whilst I have seen a lot of the old fortifications, there are still many I did not visit yet... at least several 8).

:?: Who could provide fotos of Ridotta Maddalena just at the border to Egypt, south of Ridotta Capuzzo? This Fort is in a "no go" area. Too close to the border and probably mined :cry:.

:?: Are there any photos of the fortification-circle around BARDIA? It was comparable to TOBRUK in size but not in the extend of completion and quality.

:?: The fort in the Oasis of AUGILA would also be interesting for me. Only a few remnants are still there and I have only a lowres scan of a single photo.
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#6 User is offline   BRY 

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 02:08 AM

Kuno,does not NARA have a section on WWII aerial recon?I believe the RAF also compiled many photos.For detailed info on those forts you would likely be getting it from an Italian language publication.
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#7 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 10:39 AM

Kuno,BRY hello!:
I forgot yestarday to say that the mots important Italian fortress and the most famuos is the Giarabub fort situated to south of Tobruk inside the desert near the frontier of Egypt,there afterwards the Italian defeat in Sidi Barrani and the capture in British hands the Cyrenaica ports as Bardia,Tobruk,Derna,Bengasi in January 1941 one colonel of the Italian Army who led the garrison of Giarabub fort resisted a hard besiege,the Colonel was Col. Castagna and after epic chapter of the desert War "Cinecitá" made one film.The Col. Castagnaīs troops resisted one great besiege severals months,finally the Italians troops surrendered to British troops so the Afrika Korps couldnīt free them of the British besiege,perhaps Gen. Rommel blinded by the easy victories over the British troops in his first advance in Cyrenaica and when he arrived to limits of perimeteer defensive of Tobruk he tried to conquist Tobruk,perhaps by this question he didnīt free the Italian garrison in Giarabub fort.
I have seen a photograph of Giarabub fort in the moment that one Savoia S-79 passed above it for to drop supplies for the Italian garrison.Now I donīt remember the date of the Italian surrender in Giarabub,but it was in February or March 1941.
Well dear friends,one salute from Spain:
Pedro "Orlando"
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#8 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 03:48 PM

The Fort at GIARABUB is still existing. Until about a year ago it was occupied by the Libyan Military - now it is abandoned. However; there is not much left of the original substance. Many walls & buildings are new.

When one of the rare SM.79 was arriving to bomb the allied troops which had encircled the garrison, it droped the bombs at the wrong location; INTO the defense perimeter. It is reported that the garrison commaneder set up a message then which was like this "You are kindly requested to inform your pilots not to drop any more bombs on our own troops since such migth be not good for the morale of them."

Don't know if it is true or not - but it sounds good 8)
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#9 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 04:03 PM

Sorry that I always refer to "my home" the Afrikakorps Forum. But snce I have there some extensive threads, I want to avoid to post all again. If the Admin of this forum does not like this - just delete the links here...

http://www.afrika-korps.de/forum/viewto ... t=giarabub

And the above mentioned message was like this:

It was rare to find Australians cherishing any respect for the Italians as soldiers. Lieutenant-Colonel Costiani, the tough and truculent commander of the Giarabub garrison, was one exception.
He was a resolute fighter, with a streak of humour in his nature and the Australians admired him for those qualities. In fact, they formed almost an affection for him while the siege was in progress-a revealing light on the Australian character.

They related, with as much relish as when they told tales of their own doings, the story of a wireless message which they intercepted from Costiani to Regia Aeronautica Headquarters, Tripoli. It was sent a few hours after Italian bombers, evidently believing they were raiding the Australians, had heartily bombed Giarabub and its Italian garrison. Costiani drily signalled:

"We said enemy outside Giarabub, not inside. Please do not bomb fort in future. It has a bad effect on the natives."

Source: http://www.diggerhistory2.info/soldier/ ... arabub.htm
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#10 User is offline   FB 

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 06:23 AM

Wasn't Giarabub commander Col. Salvatore Castagna?

He wrote a book telling the oasis's story after the war: La Difesa di Giarabub.

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#11 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 08:19 AM

CASTAGNA; I think you're right. I have his book but I am not able to read Italian; therefore it is still on my shelf - no english translation available somewhere?
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#12 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 11:00 AM

Hello Kuno,FB!:
I hope that someday the memories of war of the Col. Castagna in the Giarabub fort can to be available in English language for to read this book.I know Italian language but I use very few,therefore I prefer to read in English.I hope that somebody put the "Col. Castagna memories" here in Internet in some web (digital library) in English traslation soon.
Also there is a film about the besiege of Giarabub.One salute from Spain:
Pedro "Orlando"
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#13 User is offline   FB 

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 02:56 PM

Guys, I do not think that his book has ever made it outside Italy and Italian language. And to tell you the truth, I highly doubt that it will ever be translated in English (professionally).

The movie Giarabub was shot in 1942, director was Goffredo Alessandrini. I guess that it became an instant classic (at the time, in Italy) as the siege of Giarabub was a hot spot for italian propaganda (who had to say something heroic to the people that knew something about the ongoing front collapse).

And above all the famous song, La Saga di Giarabub (that is also the theme of the movie), was a hit at the time. Radios played it quite often, as my Grandma told me

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#14 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 04:16 AM

I will be again in GIARABUB in about two weeks time. If you need me to take a particular picture I would do so (if possible).

The detailed travel-itinerary you can find here:

http://www.afrika-ko...opic.php?t=4057
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#15 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 11:12 AM

Dear Kuno!:
I havenīt words in my vocabulary for to describe your fantastic work for to give to know the difficults routes of the desert,you seem to Major Bagnold,the most great explorer of the desert and Konrad Killiam the French explorer,you love the desert.
Dear FB,with respect the memories of the Col. Castagna in Giarabub fort,I am positive and I think that somebody will put this memories of war in Internet,especial interest must have the Italian goverment for that all people know the great heroic gest of the one Italian unit in the difficult desert War during the Second World War.The only thing that stayed of the most terrific War that the Man has known is the Historic memory.It is the great treasure that we shall leave to the future generations for to learn those terribles lessons.
Kuno,I want to express you my admiration for your work,great teacher,one very great salute from Spain,yours:
Pedro "Orlando"
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#16 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 02:20 PM

Pedro; I am not a teacher at all. I just try to visit as many as possible such places before the "change their face" and disapear - means are gping to be removed / replaced by new buidings.

Regarding GIARABUB; may you know that last year there was an article about in "Storia & Battaglie"?
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#17 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 02:54 PM

This is a small collage about the actual appearance of GIARABUB:

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#18 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 07:49 PM

Dear Kuno!:
One great salute,for me yes,you are great teacher and you have much things to show of the desert War,especially the history of the Italians fortifications in the desert.
Sadly I donīt know the article that you refer in your former post about the history of the Giarabub fort,but yes I know the reviuw "Storia & Battaglie" it is very good.
Kuno in the military campaign in East Africa the most important battle occurred in a Italian fort was the battle of the Gallabat fort in the frontier with the Sudan;that battle was the first ofensive of England during the Second World War in November 1940,for the history of England that fact was very important for the British effort of War by the effects morals;also there was a great and important battle in the North of Kenya in the fort of Moyale,there three battalions of the Kings African Rifles stopped one Italian colonial brigade,in Moyale fort the British got to stop the invasion of Kenya so they lay (to lie) to Italians because they made to think that had much more troops deployed in Kenya.
One salut from Spain,your Spanish friend:
Pedro "Orlando"
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#19 User is offline   Kuno 

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 08:38 PM

Orlando; thanks of info about East Africa. However; here I can hardly follow the discussion since I am not so familiar with that subject (although I have no ordered the old books about the war in Abessinia...).

A Foto of MURUZKs Fort would be nice...and all one may have about ET TAJ at KUFRA 8)
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#20 User is offline   orlando lorenzini 

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 10:40 AM

Dear Kuno!:
One salute;in the study of the Abyssinia campaign the great problem is that in those far lands are very perilous still for the European man,is difficult to go there,especially perilous is Somalia.When I see the film: "Black Hawk shot down" ,I have much fear,I donīt like the violence,I am pacific man.
Notwithstanding all armed conflicts we must study for to learn these leassons for to avoid repeat it.I shall follow studing the Abyssinia campaign,for me it is very interesting.BRY knows deeply this conflitc,I have learned much things of the East Africa campaign thanks to BRY.Also I have a Southafrican friend named Mr. Arthur Radburn that he shows also to me much questions of the East Africa campaign, especially questions refers to Southafrican Army.In that far campaign the Southafrican Army contributed to the victory of the Allied forces to south of the Italian East Africa.
Well Kuno,one salute yours:
Pedro "Orlando"
One salute from Spain:
Pedro "Orlando"
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