The battaglione Alpini sciatori « Monte Cervino » was equipped with a mixture of standard Italian Army uniforms and specialized items specifically for ski units. When compared to other units in the army, the « Monte Cervino » was well equipped. This was partly due to the forceful personalities of the battalion commanders, using their years of skiing experience to equip the battalion with the latest uniform and clothing items. The information below describes the enlisted uniform.
Uniforms of the Monte Cervino
The alpino of the « Monte Cervino » were issued the standard army M40 uniform. This is a simplified version of the M33 and M37 uniforms. The main differences are that the colored collar was replaced with one made in the same color wool as the rest of the uniform, and the Swedish style cuffs were replaced by a straight cuff. .
The M40 giubba (tunic) is an open collar wool coat with four patch pockets in grigio-verde (g-v). The open collar has layed down, notched lapels; a very modern design. Three large wood or Bakelite buttons, painted g-v, closed the giubba. The giubba has fixed shoulder straps that are buttoned next to the collar, and the sleeves end with a straight cuff. The four patched pockets are pleated, with scalloped pocket flaps closed by a single small wood or Bakelite button. The breast pockets are smaller than the waist pockets. In the rear of the giacca are two hunter pockets without flaps closed by a similar button. A removable waist belt completes the giubba, fastened with two small buttons. Basic insignia worn on the giubba are the alpine mostrine (collar patches) with the star of Savoia on the lapels, and rank on the sleeves. Various awards, badges, and specialty insignia can be worn if awarded.
The M40 pantaloni are knickerbockers in design with a high waist, made in the same wool as the giubba. The pantaloni have two vertical slash pockets in the front and two horizontal slash pockets in the rear, the latter closed with a single button. They are normally worn with a web belt closed by two metal rings using friction to keep the belt secured. The style of the pantaloni is baggy, with the alpini normally tailoring theirs to exaggerate this feature.
In late 1941, the ski units were authorized to wear the paracadutisti (parachutist) M41 pantaloni. These are similar to the M40 pantaloni, but are full length and are tied closed at the ankle. They have two diagonal slash pockets in the front and two horizontal slash pockets in the rear, the latter closed with a single button. The Alpino of the Monte Cervino are authorized to wear these pants for all events except those specifically for France 1940 or Greece 1941.
In the picture below are the M40 panataloni (on the left), and the M41 pantaloni paracadutisti (on the right)
The M39 camicia (shirt) comes in two styles; a cotton (summer) camicia and a flannel (winter) camicia. The camicia is a pull-over design closed by two-to-four small plastic buttons. The summer version normally lacks pockets, while the winter version normally has two breast patch pockets, pleated and closed with a scalloped flap.
The uniform for walking-out (pass and/or leave) added a cravatta (tie). A g-v or black cotton cravatta was worn in the summer, while a g-v knitted wool tie was worn in the winter. For formal military events (parades, religious holidays, etc.) a white camicia replaced the g-v camicia. White guanti (gloves) could also be added.
G-v wool mollettiere (puttees) are worn with the M40 pantaloni. The mollettiere are cut in a curved design to better fit the shape of the leg. A straight cut puttee will not wrap correctly. They are wrapped around the lower leg (calf), starting at the ankle and working up. The start of the mollettiere can be on top of the boot, or can be inside on the leg with the sock pulled up over the mollettiere and then rolled down over the boot.
The alpini of the battalion worn the M39 scarponi sci (ski boot). This was a modern boot made with a Vibram sole and a buckle arch-strap to better support the ankle while using skis. The Vibram sole provided better insulation from the cold ground and improved traction. As we currently lack a source for this style of boots, alpini can wear either the M1912 scarponi alpino, or the M1912 scarponi soldato. All these boots are an ankle boot, with eyelets or speed laces. Most boots have a curved toe cap and a heel cap, but some scarponi alpino lack the toe cap. Alpini scarponi are either black or russet brown.
The alpine wear the distinctive cappello alpino (alpine hat). This is a Tyrolean style felt hat, with a wide brim. A fregio alpine (alpine badge) is worn sewn to the front of the hat. The crown has a g-v leather band, with a leather pocket on the left side for the nappina and penna (feather). The nappina is a colored woolen tuft indicating unit or specialty. For France 1940 and Greece 1941, the « Monte Cervino » wears a light blue nappina. A red nappina is worn for Russia. A black feather is fitted to the nappina to indicate an enlisted alpino.
Calze (socks) consist of two types. The first is a regular sock. In many cases, these were made by family and sent to the solder. Colors should be either white or grey, although families used what was available. The second are the long heavy wool climbing socks that replaced the mollettiere with the M40 pantaloni. These socks were worn up to the knee and normally lack the toes. Either can be worn.
Biancheria (underwear, undergarments) were normally white A-style shirts and white boxer shorts. Again, it was not unusual for alpini to wear items provided from home.
The uniform above was for both garrison and field. In the field, the follow items were used.
Mantellina (cape). This was a WWI item that the Alpini continued to wear. Made in g-v wool, it has collar with metal stars of Savoia (no mostrine). The neck was closed by a hook and eye, while the front has a single flap and button to close the cape. A tab and button under the collar allows the collar to be worn up around the neck. By the time of the Russian campaign, most Alpini carried the cappotto and not the mantellina.
The cappotto (overcoat) was a single-breasted long coat made from g-v wool. The cappotto has fixed shoulder straps and rolled cuffs secured up by a single small button at the rear of the cuff. The cuff is designed to be rolled down over the hands in bad winter. The front was closed by four large woolen buttons, hidden behind the front of the cappotto. A small button allows the lapels to be closed at the neck, while a tab and button under the collar allows the collar to be worn up around the neck. Two large horizontal waist pockets with straight flaps were to the front, the flaps hanging free without buttons. Two small vertical slash breast pockets are close by a single small button. Two small marching tabs and buttons allow the cappotto skirts to be worn up to free the legs for marching. No belt or hood is provided for the cappotto.
Two cappotto liners were available. The first is a g-v wool vest that is buttoned into the cappotto. The second was a giubbotti senza maniche (coat without sleeves or vest) made of white lambskin. This could be worn under the cappotto or as an outer garment.
Guinti (gloves) came in various styles. A g-v wool mitten was normally issued to all troops. The Alpini used knitted wool, three-finger gloves that allow weapons to be fired while they were being worn. As ski troops, the Monte Cervino was issue a camouflaged mitten consisting of a white linen outer-shell and knitted wool insert.
A knit wool passamontagna (balaclava) was issued for cold weather. This was worn under the helmet or by itself.
The « Monte Cervino » was issued a special winter over-garment. Made of a rubberized white linen cloth, the giubba a vento and pantaloni di sci provided camouflage in the winter.