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What did the soldier carry?
Posted 26 November 2009 - 08:05 PM
The issue of zaino, sacchi, and tascapane has been brothering me for quite awhile. The main evidence is photographic. When looking at numerous wartime photos, I see soldiers either with a tascapane, or with a sacco, but very rarely do I see them with both. The next piece of evidence is the design of the machinegun ammunition pack (cassetta) and other equipment carrying items. These are designed to be worn on the back. If the soldier is issued a sacco or zaino to carry all his personal items, how do soldiers assigned as ammo bearers and the like carry both their personal items and the ammunition/equipment? Finally, the tascapane in the pictures are of the larger WWI design, not the smaller version many of us have purchased.
While reading through Viotti to puzzle this out, he states that the borsa tattica replaced the tascapane, while the sacco per armi a piedi replaced the zaino. This change was ordered in August 1939 and might be the key to the puzzle. Given the speed at which the Italian Army implemented change, how many units would have received the new packs?
One additional bit of data. In the A.S. section, Viotti states the soldiers were equipped with a tascapane worn on the right shoulder. The tenda telo was carried internally, while the blanket was carried rolled over the right shoulder. This sounds more like the tascapane we are familiar with.
My working theory is that pre-1939, the main piece of equipment was the tascapane. This tascapane was larger and was fitted with straps, loops, and buckles to carry the tenda telo, overcoat, or whatever externally. The zaino might have still been issued, but I have yet to find any pictures of it being carried. In 1939, the European units transitioned to the borsa tattica or the sacco per armi a piedi. These generally replaced the tascapane for those other than ammunition bearers and the like. In A.S., because of mechanical transport and the heat, the smaller tascapane was retained.
Okay, a theory. Now working to prove or disprove it.
Posted 27 November 2009 - 06:47 AM
This is right up my street, the Personal Equipment Scales will of course vary to suit the Combat Mission, the Historical Documents seem to indicate the RE didn't carry anything they didn't need, more like the Red Army than the Wehrmacht in a Combat Load scales.
The Breda mod 30 LMG Assistance Gunners did have the Ammo box back pack and spare barrels in addition to his normal fighting load of course which partly explains why Modello 39 Back Packs could be slung or worn on the back, as a comfort to these overloaded men if they had to move their Existence Load from A to B, given the ( sometimes) lack of motorised transport in the RE.
I do like the Historical Image from Rex Trye Mussolini's Soldiers p114, the discarded weapons and Ammunition/Munitions give an indication of scales of issue, loose Armi mod .91 6.5mm clips and various models of Grenade indicate there were in pockets or in Tactical Bags/ Respirator Bags pressed into such use.... I try to look for clues in such, ( excuse the pun :oops: ) captured moments in time.... :wink:
The Hunt for such Images are our most important " Combat Mission".
Posted 28 November 2009 - 06:43 PM
I have ordered a copy of the Uniformi e Armi issue and had it delivered to my friend in Roma. Hopefully by the time I receive it, the postage will be less than the 34 euros quoted by the store.
I have seen the cover picture on the magazine and I have some mixed feelings. I will share those thoughts at another time.
The first item I will discuss is the tascapane. As I stated in my first post, I believe the soldier was issued either the tascapane or the sacco per armi a piedi, or the borsa tattica per armi a piedi. The tascapane we are familiar with is this one (in leather or web strapping).
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This is the tascapane I see in all the period pictures.
Breda squadra with tascapane.jpg (106.62K)
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I have notice that many soldiers carried their tascapane with the flap against the body. I assume this better secures the items inside so the flap doesn't open by itself.
The main differences the tascapane in the pictures and the one most of us own is:
1) the positon of the shoulder strap. The shoulder strap in the pictures is fastened to the sides of the bag, not the back. These tascapani can't be worn as a backpack.
2) they lack the loops for the messkit.
3) they are larger.
I have looked at many pictures over the last few months and I have yet to see a picture of a dismounted soldier carrying the style tascapane in the first picture above (the one we know). Does anyone have a photo of this tascapane being carried? I recently saw a vendor on Ebay selling a well-loved one of these tascapane and listing it as a cavalry tascapane. An angle I hadn’t considered. Could this be a mounted tascapane and not a dismounted version? I lack any good pictures of Italian cavalry in march order. Howeve, the one I have shows the same tascapane as in the infantry picture above. Does any one have pictures of cavalry that might confirm or disprove this theory?
Posted 28 November 2009 - 07:25 PM
This could be a possibility. The picture of the Breda squadra is pretty clear in the book, and I can't identify the two loops for secruing the bag to the bayonet. However, I have two pictures that are clearly M33 bags and they are worn with the flap against the body.
If all the pictures are of M33 bags, then this helps support that the tascapane wasn't carried by the infantry. All my pictures either show the soldiers in march order with packs of some sort and no tascapane, or with only bags that are not the one pictured above.
So maybe I should adjust my theory to the tascapane wasn't issued anymore per Viotti.
Hoping others will look at the pictures to which they have access and help solve this puzzle.
Does the Uniformi e Armi issue address this?
Posted 29 November 2009 - 01:55 PM
Posted 30 November 2009 - 12:29 AM
Thanks for the info. Hummmm....maybe I should just wait to read the magazine instead of posting this discussion. Save some work on my part.
I reviewed the manuals/books I have to see if I can gleam anymore bits to help understand the equipment. The Manuale di regolamenti per I corsi allievi ufficiali di complemento (my copy is 1940) has a section on 'Istruzione sull'equipaggiamento' (pages 277-278). Pretty brief and no drawings or pictures. It does state that the soldier carried his equipment in four different ways:
On the person/personal clothing: dog tags and the first aid pouch.
The sistameti nella borsa a zaino (haversack pack system). Personal items, cleaning items, rations, ammo, messkit, tent cloth, aircraft recognition panel, and either the blanket or overcoat.
By the person: leather gear, gasmask, engineer tool, weapon.
Unit pack animals or carts: either the blanket or overcoat; machineguns, commo gear, medical supplies, extra ammo.
The problem I have with this information is that the borsa a zaino carried ammo in both inside and outside pockets, and the gavetta was attached to the outside. This doesn’t match any of the packs described by Coccia. It does describe an earlier tascapane.
As this manual was printed in 1940, a year after the change in equipment, I wondered if this section had been updated. Checking my other manuals, my copy of Manuale per la istruzione elementre del soldato (dated 1934) also has a similar section on pages 76-77. Similar isn’t quite correct; word for word the same. So this sistemati borsa a zaino refers to the equipment that was replaced in 1939.
This is a picture of the borsa a zaino. Mine is dated 1932. I have five pictures of this borsa a zaino being carried in WWII. I might have more, but the pictures aren’t quite clear enough to be sure. There are two inside pockets for ammo, and the two outside pockets fit either a box of rifle ammo or a grenade. It can be carried as a haversack, or worn on the back as a pack.
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This system includes a cover and strap for the gavetta. My strap is 66cm (26”) long, able to attached either a normal or alpino gavetta.
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Gavetta, fodera e cinturino.jpg (87.14K)
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Together. There are buckles and loops for securing the tenda telo and overcoat/blanket.
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Borsa a zaino and sacco antigas.
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So I believe that the soldier carried this borsa until replaced by either the borsa tattica or a sacco per armi a piedi. As you can see below, the borsa a zaino and the borsa tattica are similar in size. The gavetta is carried internally in the borsa tattica.
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More to follow at some point.
Posted 30 November 2009 - 12:44 AM
To update your information on the Breda 30 equipment. There are two different backpacks. The first is the cassette per accessori e parti di recambio. This pack carried the spare parts and the two spare barrels. The second, the cassetta per caricatori contains fifteen 20-round loaders for the Breda 30 magazine. So there are three backpacks that are carried by the Breda 30 gruppo, one with spare parts and two ammunition backpacks.
I am still looking for the accessory backpack.
Posted 30 November 2009 - 08:10 PM
Thanks for the Gen, I guess several men carried the Ammo, not all needed to carry spare barrels.. Grazie.
Could the Modello number be given with these Images, it is a little confusing, I'm still trying to get my head around all these different sacco antigas, sacco per armi a piedi, borsa a zaino, and borsa-tatti..... I'm into Personal equipment and want to have it clear in my mind... .
To me, you can see a development of the different Packs, features lost as cost and production time was cut as they were on a war footing and its development.
Thanks for the Images.. :D
Posted 08 December 2009 - 04:30 AM
First is the Borsa tattica per sacco della armi a piedi mod 39. This pack replaced the tascapane for all infantry. It is slightly larger than the tascapane and is designed to carry the tenda telo M29 and either the coperta da campo (blanket) or the cappotto. The earlier verison used leather tabs to close the main cover and the middle inside cover. My Borsa is dated 1942.
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The shoulder strap is two pieces that form a single unit than runs from one side to the other.
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You can remove the shoulder strap and reconnect it to carry the borsa as a tascapane.
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The borsa has three compartments inside. The middle one has a cover flap.
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There is one cargo strap attached on each side, one on the top flap, and two attached to the bottom of the borsa tattica.
Posted 08 December 2009 - 12:08 PM
Sacco-per-armi 1a.jpg (45.03K)
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The shoulder straps on the sacco per armi are fixed and not removable. The left is attached both top and bottom and only adjusts for size. The right strap is fixed on the top, but has a hook and eye on the bottom. This allows the wearer to detach the bottom end of the straps to more easily remove the sacco from his back. The two shoulder straps have loops sewn on (non-adjustable) for carrying the rifle across the chest while marching.
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There are two cargo straps attached on each side, one one the top flap, and two on the bottom of the sacco.
Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:59 PM
But now for a squirrel moment......
....has arrived. WOW!
My brain is currently overwhelmed. I strongly recommend any and all serious Italian reenactors to obtain a copy of this issue. There is a lot of great information, backed by numerous pictures. A must have.
Did I already say WOW!
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Posted 11 December 2009 - 12:20 AM
I should start off by saying this is only a guess -a stab in the dark. I have no evidence, sources, etc. to support the below idea, but I thought I'd share it nonetheless.
What if borsa tattica was a sort of "Assault pack" like the German A-Frame and bag? To me, both show similarities in function and size.
The German A-Frame had provisions for attaching a blanket or great coat, tent section and messkit. It also had a small bag for extra items, but not very many. It served to carry necessary items for the soldier, but not as much as his rucksack. His Rucksack would be left with the baggage train.
The borsa tattica appears to serve the same purpose. It has provisions for a blanket or great coat, tent section and if I'm not mistaken, the internal middle section is meant for the messkit. It is smaller and lighter than the sacco per armi and its two additional compartments seem only big enough to carry what's absolutely needed -what might be needed on an assault for example.
Perhaps the soldato was either issued both and one would stay with the baggage train, or the borsa tattica was only given out when it needed to be used, the soldato kept what was needed and left his sacco per armi back with the baggage train.
I'm not implying that the Italians got the idea from the Germans or visa versa, only that both had a similar need and came to a similar conclusion. I'm also aware that one difference is that, unlike the borsa tattica, the German Gefechtsgepäck could be worn on its own or in conjunction with their Rucksack via D-ring and metal hook attachments.
Again, this is only conjecture, but I thought I'd throw it out there and see what others had to say.
«Gruppo Italia»: A Bersaglieri Reenactment Group in the Pacific Northwest
Posted 12 December 2009 - 02:46 PM
As you stated, no evidence. None of the information I have indicates that this is a possibility. The 'Istruzione sul’equipaggiamento' (pg 277-78) from the Manuale di regolamenti only discusses one item for the soldato, either a zaino or borsa. This chapter also states that only a blanket or a cappotto is carried in the trains. No other items are mentioned.
All the combat pictures I have seen (which clearly show the soldier is fighting and not just marching) show the soldier without a pack. This is consistent with having one sacco or borsa and grounding it prior to engaging the enemy. This also meshes very nicely with stories of soldiers stuffing extra ammunition and grenades into their pockets, gasmask bags, etc. Without the earlier tascapane (which had additional pockets for ammunition), the soldier can carry only 36 rounds in their giberne. Now we can see why carrying ammunition in this manner was required.
Most armies worked hard to reduce the combat load of the soldier. Weight was important. The American pack was intentionally designed to prevent overloading. So a small pack is not necessarily a bad thing. The borsa tattica can easily carry more than the American 1910 haversack (and is easier to use). From the manuale cited above, I get the distinct impression the standard pack was the borsa tattica; the sacco per armi a piedi was to be issue for specific situations. Its general use was due to the realities of war.
Of course, if other have thoughts, sources, etc., that challenge my thoughts, please post them.
Posted 15 December 2009 - 02:22 AM
Regards, Arditi :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbTjH0Pv ... re=related
Posted 15 December 2009 - 01:39 PM
Great film clip. It appears they are carrying the borsa zaino per armi a cavallo M29. This makes sense as the Bersaglieri used mounted troops equipment, uniform items, and weapons. Mounted troops have the option (luxury) to carry additonal items on their motorcycles (or horses if cavalry), reducing the need to have a pack for everything. Note this borsa can't be carried as a pack.
What is very nice about this clip is it is one of the few I have seen that has the gavetta strapped to the borsa zaino. As the borsa tattica and the sacco per armi both store the gavetta internally, you rarely see this item in pictures. Note the covers.
Posted 15 December 2009 - 09:31 PM
As I stated, you restated and I'll state once more -no evidence. It was only a guess. I've been really enjoying this discussion, and wanted to add something, even if it was an uneducated guess. :oops:
Was there a "regulation" manner in which the gavetta was to be stored in the sacco per armi a piedi?
The one I own lacks internal straps (as seen in your picture of the sacco Alpino posted in the The Great Rucksack Controversy topic) or separate pouch. I wasn't sure if that was how they were all made, or if mine was just missing one of the two.
Also, I've been having trouble watching YouTube. Perhaps someone could show or explain what the borsa zaino per armi a cavallo looks like?
«Gruppo Italia»: A Bersaglieri Reenactment Group in the Pacific Northwest
Posted 15 December 2009 - 11:23 PM
I am glad you are enjoying the thread. Please continue to offer throughts. Nothing states I am correct, especially if you pictutres.
RE: sacco per armi. No, the sacco per armi has no internal strapping. It is basically a big bag with two outside pockets. Very simple. The gavetta was likely placed on top of everything else before the drawstring is tightened closed (easy to get out without unloading the bag). I have a picture of soldiers carrying a sacco per armi with their gavetta tied to their leather belts. Obviously so the soldier doesn’t need to open the sacco to get the gavetta for use.
This is why I stated the sacco alpino is very complex for a pack. Few packs have internal dividers; the sacco alpino has a divider, two large interior pockets that have an unusual shape, and two small pockets. Then you add the strapping for the gavetta and the straps to close onwe side of the interior compartment. Clearly the sacco was designed with a specific method of carrying all the alpino's required items.
RE: borsa zaino per armi a cavallo. It is the very first picture in this thread. Basically a haversack with loops to secure the gavetta.
Posted 03 January 2010 - 05:13 PM
30th Ccnn. Montebello
"Political power comes from the barrel of a gun, and yours has no bolt," -Johnny V.
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