Contrary to popular belief, the “Giovani Fascisti” (Young Fascists, or GGFF) were not part of the MVSN (Fascist Militia), but were instead a Regular Army unit whose members had been recruited from the GUF (Gioventu’ Universitaria Fascista) – which was however, a Fascist Party sponsored organization however.
19,000 GUF members volunteered and were organized into 24 battalions, however in the course of the power struggle between the Army and the MVSN, most of these were disbanded (probably due to fears about their true loyalties). Only 3 battalions remained and this was later reduced to two! Consequently, these units had a very high Espirit de corps and competent commanders, as they were able to retain the best of the original 19,000 volunteers.
The 2 battalions were organized as the Gruppo di battaglioni GGFF and transferred to Libya in July 1941 (in time for the November Commonwealth Offensive – “Operation Crusader“). The Group was consequently placed under the command of RECAM (Raggruppamento Esplorante del Corpo d’armata di’manovra), the Reconnaissance Group of the Mobile (later XX) Army Corps. The Group participated in the action around Bir el Gubi, Point 174, and Point 182 during November and December 1941.
Gruppo di battaglioni GGFF – Giovani Fascisti (at Bir el Gubi, November 1941)
GRUPPO GGFF HEADQUARTERS COMPANY
GRUPPO GGFF MG COMPANYCOY HQ
3 MG PLATOONS (each 3 x MMGs)
AUTODRAPPELLO COMPANY (Transport/Trucks)
GRUPPO GGFF MORTAR PLATOON (4 x 81mm Mortars)
GRUPPO GGFF GUN PLATOON (4 x 47mm ATG)
1st GGFF BATTALION
3 RIFLE COMPANIES, each with:
3 RIFLE PLATOONS2nd GGFF BATTALION:
Organized the same as 1st GGFF Battalion
ATTACHMENTS UNDER COMMAND (at Bir el Gubi):
From III/32nd LIGHT TANK BTN
1 LIGHT TANK COMPANY (HQ & 3 Sections with a total of 16 x L3 Tankettes)
From 8th BERSAGLIERI REGIMENT
1 ATk COMPANY, with:
4 GUN PLATOONS (each 2 x 47mm ATG)
1 MG PLATOON (4 x MMG)
From 9th BERSAGLIERI REGIMENT
1 GUN PLATOON (2 x 47mm ATG)
The 2 GGFF Battalions had, in total; 27 LMG & 15 20mm Solothurn heavy ATk Rifles (exact distribution of ATRs not known). I believe the Gruppo’s MG Company, and Mortar & Gun Platoons were “created” once the unit reached Libya and suitable heavy weapons had been acquired! Hence, they do not sometimes appear in OOBs.
By January 1942 it had been decided to form the 136th “GGFF” Armoured Division, using the GGFF combat group already in Libya (which was expanded to a full Regiment), and adding armour and artillery as it became available. During the Gazala and 1st Alamein campaigns, before anything further had been done, the unit operated as an independent Infantry Regiment first under the direct command of Supreme Headquarters, Italian Forces North Africa, and later attached to the 102nd Trento Motorized Division.