battaglione Duca d'Aosta (1944): a little mystery

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battaglione Duca d'Aosta (1944): a little mystery

Post by gttf » 14 Dec 2021 00:03

I’m doing some research on a little known unit of the Regia Aeronautica (cobelligerent), established in Southern Italy during 1944 (after the Armistice on Sept., 8th, 1943); the unit is the Battaglione Arditi (Assault Bataillon) “Duca d’Aosta” (an infantry unit of the Italian Air Force), AKA Battaglione Azzurro (Blue Bataillon, from the colour of the uniforms).

This unit had a short existence (January to September, 1944), included about 1000 men (mostly from units of Regia Aeronautica) and its CO was Ten. Col. Angelo Mastragostino (former fighter pilot), with Cap. Giuseppe Cimicchi (former torpedo-bomber pilot), as deputy CO.

The Bataillon, trained and equipped as an assault unit, was disbanded in september 1944, before to see any action on the frontline, as it has not been duly authorized by the Allied Air Force Sub-Commission. In the meantime, some “arditi” were dropped on behalf of both SIM (Italian Secret Service) and SOE behind German lines (probably in the framework of SOE Operation Potato) for sabotage operations on railways in Central Italy.
After the disbanding, a part of the relevant Personnel was transferred to the Italian Parachute Division Nembo and the remaining was assigned elsewhere (my father, for example, was assigned to Scuola Addestramento Caccia e Bombardamento – Fighter and Bomber Training School) in Campo Vesuvio, near Naples.
This is the synthesis of the history of the Battaglione, according to the primary sources (the documents in the archives of the Historical Branch of the Italian Air Force in Rome) and the very few secundary sources (an article on the monthly Storia Militare (January, 2012) and some hints in two-three books on the history of Italian (Cobelligerent) Air Force).
Nevertheless, I’ve found a kind of report of a former soldier of “Duca d’Aosta” (passed away in 2008) which gives a different (and quite surprising) version of the end of this unit: according to this version,the Battaglione (or, at least, part of it) would have actually been deployed, during July, 1944 near Mount Canfàito, approx 10 km from Matelica and 50 km from Recanati (Marche region, Central Italy).
The unit would have replaced a bataillon of the 2nd Polish Corps, suffering a lot of casualties (BTW, the former soldier of “Duca d’Aosta” was wounded) and being disbanded for this reason.
The report of this veteran gives details about the establishment, training, equipment and weapons consistent with the primary sources and with the few accounts by my father (sadly passed away in 1972, when I was a child) about his war experiences in that unit, as far as I can remember. These details are very accurate and I don’t see any reason to consider the report as a fake.
Unfortunately, this version is in contrast with the official version, as I have tried to summarize before.
Now, my question is:the following:: is there any member of this forum which has any element to corroborate the veteran’s version ? Does any Polish friend have information about the replacement of a bataillon of the 2nd Corps with an Italian bataillon in te area indicated before, in July (at latest, August) 1944 ?
I've been trying to solve this little mystery for a few years, so far without success.

Thank you in advance for any contribution (and apologies for this too long and surely boring message)

Best regards


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