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Italian Folgore at El Alamein: Unbreakable

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The attack would never happen; when Rommel regained the upper hand in the Desert War early in 42, accomplished at a high cost in both material and fuel, he pushed for Hitler to ‘postpone’ Operation C3 in order to concentrate all available Mediterranean resources for a renewed push into Egypt.  Hitler agreed with his ‘favorite’ General over the objections of the whole Italian Comando Supremo who felt that a push towards the Suez was unfeasible on logistical grounds; their belief that the restricted handling capacity of Axis controlled ports and the limited number of supply trucks available were not enough to sustain operations so far from logistic supply heads.  The attack on Malta was cancelled once Hitler persuaded Mussolini to give his blessing in favor of allowing Rommel the chance to continue his advance.

The decision was made to send the Folgore to Africa to assist the Axis cause, and the first Folgore troops arrived on scene in July of ’42.  Officially renamed under the cover name of 185th “Cacciatori d’Africa” Infantry Division, although reports and dispatches continued to refer to them as 185th “Folgore” Parachutist Brigade, this “Division” would prove it’s worth to the Axis cause many times over.

By late October of ’42, the Folgore now found itself dug in along a stretch of the southern portion of the Axis line. The Division, under the command of General Frattini, was doing its best to rest and reorganize after their victorious but grueling battles against the Allied forces the previous month.  Italian and German engineers in the area worked diligently to strengthen the existing minefield, which was created by the British but was now in Axis hands, to provide a daunting defensive obstacle in front of their positions. Rommel’s extensive use of mines in both number and depth at the Second Battle of Alamein earned these lethal patches of earth the nickname of “the Devil’s Garden” by the advancing British forces.  Only the advanced and finely honed mine clearing techniques the British had developed over the course of the war allowed their forces to make steady, if slow progress through these fortified areas once the battle commenced.

The Folgore was assigned a position within the X corps, it’s deployment situated between Haret-el-Himeimat and Deir-el-Munassib. The placement of the Folgore along the line at Second Alamein consisted of three main sectors; north, central and south.

Folgore position at Battle of El Alamein

Folgore position at Battle of El Alamein

Folgore OOB in North Africa

Divisional Command and HQ Company

185th Mixed  Carabinieri Company (Military Police)

260th Field post office

20th  Supply section

20th  Logistical section

185th Medical section

185th  Transports unit

20th  Mortars Company (81mm mod.35)

185th  Signal Engineers Company

185th  Mixed Miners-Constuction Engineers Company


8th “Guastatori” Parachutist Battalion, with :

HQ Company

22nd   “ Guastatori” Parachutist Company

23rd    “ Guastatori” Parachutist Company

24th    “ Guastatori” Parachutist Company

186th Parachutist Infantry Regiment,  with:

Regimental Command and HQ Company

Regimental Guns Company (47/32 mod.35)

2nd Parachutist Infantry Battalion , with:

HQ Company

4th   Parachutists Rifle Company

5th   Parachutists Rifle Company

6th   Parachutists Rifle Company

4th Parachutist Infantry Battalion , with:

HQ Company

10th   Parachutists Rifle Company

11th   Parachutists Rifle Company

12th   Parachutists Rifle Company

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  1. Interesting and deepened article,
    my father was a soldier of Folgore and captured in El Alamein the 9th of november 1942 and imprisoned in
    British camp 309 and 305 located in Egypt.
    I should like to have more informations about these camps and some suggestions in order to contact the right authority (British Army, Red Cross, others)

    Thank you in advance for eventual tips.

    Enrico Dall’Osto

  2. Div132Ariete says:

    folgore fatal truth deserve to be called lions (although, in general, the entire Italian army fought like lions)

  3. Outstanding article!

  4. Epic description of iron men stubbornly fighting endless adversities. The article succesfully balance a rigorous historical approach with emotional emphatize with incredible soldiers. Compliment to the author.

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