Book Review
Partisan Warfare in Italy
World War II Partisan Warfare in Italy
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


While the Allied armies were fighting their way up Italy in 1943-45, writing such battles as Anzio and Cassino into history, behind the German lines a less well-known but savage war was being fought by a widespread and varied partisan movement against the occupying Germans and their Italian fascist allies. This war of raids, guerrilla ambushes and brutal reprisals would have its own grim milestones, such as the Ardeatine caves, Marzabotto and Monte Sole.

For the first time in English, this book describes in detail the German and Fascist anti-partisan forces; lists their operations; and analyses the development, success and failures of both sides in this campaign. It is illustrated throughout with rare photographs, with colour plates of the uniforms and equipment of both sides, and with detailed maps.

Quoted from the back cover of the book.

The Book

Osprey Publications Ltd have released World War II Partisan Warfare in Italy as Number 207 in their Elite series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color illustrations, color maps, a glossary of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the book, and detailed captions. It has a 2015 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-0893-6. The book details the varied anti-axis partisan actions against the occupying Germans and the Italian fascist allies in Italy during World War II.

The Contents
  • Introduction
  • September 1943: the Italian surrender, and the German occupation
  • From Early Resistance To Partisan Warfare
  • Passive ‘resisters and active ‘partisans’
  • Regional distribution
  • Group organization
  • Political identities
  • Security & Anti-Partisan Forces
  • Local military commandants
  • SS and Police structure
  • Local recruitment in the Alpenvorland
  • Wider recruitment
  • RSI Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana – Carabinieri – Guardia Giovanile Legionaria
  • Police elements – Polizia Repubblicana
  • Centro Addestramento Reparti Speciale – Cacciatori degli Appennini
  • Initial German deployments
  • Partisan Warfare
  • First phase; September 1943 - spring 1944
  • Anti-partisan operations, spring 1944: north-western Alps – northern Apennines – more widespread activity
  • Insurgency: Summer 1944
  • Expansion and coalescing of groups – SOE missions and support – ‘free zones’
  • Collapse of RSI security forces – creation of ‘Black Brigades’ and ‘Apennine Hunters
  • Anti-partisan operations, spring-summer: north-western Alps – central Apennines – northern Apennines Florence – Liguria, and the Comando Contro Guessiglia
  • The new phase, September 1944: operations by field-army units – destruction of ‘free zones’
  • The north-east
  • German reorganization, and raising of new units
  • RSI reorganization
  • Crisis: Autumn-Winter 1944
  • Second wave of ‘free zones’
  • The north-east
  • German ‘bandit-fighting weeks’: ‘Green Week’ – ‘White Week’
  • Collapse of partisan morale – success of amnesty
  • Recovery: Spring 1945
  • Reorganization, resupply, and more controlled recruitment
  • Final anti-partisan operations – German collapse in northern Italy
  • Summary: The Partisans
  • Character and leadership
  • Equipment and communications
  • Tactics and results
  • Losses on both sides
  • Summary: The German Reaction
  • Intelligence
  • Territorial control
  • Tactics and results
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index

The Text
The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Authors Pier Paolo Battistelli and Piero Crociani cover the fighting between Partisans and Axis forces in Italy during World War II very well and goes into great detail about the individuals on both sides of the conflict as well as specific actions and their outcomes. Please refer to the Contents section of this review to learn all that is discussed in this volume. The contents section is very accurate in regards to the history of partisan warfare in Italy that authors Pier Paolo Battistelli and Piero Crociani have written. This is a well written history that will be of great use and interest to the well-seasoned and knowledgeable World War Two and Partisan historian or the individual that is new to the fighting between the Partisans and Axis forces in Italy during World War II and wants to learn about its history. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on the fighting between the Partisans and Axis forces in Italy during World War II to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

The Photographs
There are a total of 50 black and white photographs contained in this volume. The majority of the photographs are very nice and will help the military modeler well. They range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. I appreciate the fact that there are photographs that are new to me as this makes this volume even more exciting for me to sit down and read. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are some that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason as well as the fact that the photographs are close to 70 years old. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and take away nothing from the book. Pier Paolo Battistelli and Piero Crociani stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to partisan warfare in Italy during World War II and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. There are several excellent photographs that will help out the soft skinned vehicle, armor, weapons, and figure modeler. The majority of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information due to the details they contain.

A few of my favorite photographs contain subjects such as:
  • German 15cm ‘Grille’ self-propelled gun
  • Italian soldier carrying a 45mm M35 Brixia platoon mortar
  • Men from Prince Junio Valerio Borghese’s Xa MAS marine infantry formation
  • Italian M13 tanks
  • German 20mm Flak 38
  • Douglas C-47 aircraft parachuting supplies to partisans
  • Italian Semovente da 75/18 75mm self-propelled gun
  • A group of partisans cleaning their weapons which include a British Sten gun, an Italian MAB 38 submachine gun and a British Bren machine gun.
  • A Czech battalion Corporal who had deserted to join the partisans

Some of the key individuals shown are:
  • SS-Stubaf Jochen Peiper
  • SS-Sturmbannfüher Herbert Kappler
  • Patisan leader Vincenzo ‘Cino’ Moscatelli
  • Waffen-Untersturmbannfüher Carlo degli Oddi
  • Dionigio Marchelli
  • Carlo Ambrino
  • SS-Brigaf Willy Tensfeld
  • Political Commissar Antonio Piccolo

The Illustrations
There are 6 color illustration plates by illustrator Peter Dennis included in this volume. Each color illustration is accompanied by detailed captions. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:
Autumn-Winter 1943 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Unteroffizier, II/3 Brandenburg Regiment, central Italy
  • (2) Ex-Italian Army officer partisan, Northern Italy
  • (3) Guardia, Polizia dell’Africa Italiana, Rome
  • (3a) Alternative version of the PAI brassard, with ‘Polizia’ on horizontal stripes

Spring 1944 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Partisan, central Italy
  • (1a) Detail of one example of a CLN armband
  • (2) Tenente, Guardia Nazionale repubblicana, northern Italy
  • (2a) Detail of cap badge
  • (3) Schütze, Fallschirm Panzer Aufklarungs-Abteilung ‘Hermann Göring”, central Italy

Spring-Summer 1944 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Partisan, Battaglione ‘Silvio Corbari’; Apennine Mountains, summer 1944
  • (2) Wachmeister, III/Polizei Regiment ‘Bozen’; Rome, March 1944
  • (3) Maresciallo dei Carabinieri, northern Italy, spring 1944
  • (Background) Signboard warning German vehicle drivers to telephone ahead to the nearest local HQ before getting on the road through insecure areas.

Summer 1944 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Squadrista, 8a Brigata Nera ‘Aldo Resega’, Milan
  • (1a) Arm shield of the 8a Brigata Nera
  • (2) Partisan, 1st Garibaldi Division ‘Divisione Valsesia’, northern Italy
  • (3) Oberleutnant, Luftwaffen Sicherungs Regiment, Northern Italy

Autumn 1944 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Unterwachtmeister, Trientiner Sicherungs, Verband, Trento
  • (1a) Left sleeve badge, bearing the eagle symbol of the Trento region
  • (2) Vicebrigadiere, legion Arditi di Polizia “Caruso’, Milan
  • (3) British Liaison Officer, SOE, northern Italy

Winter/Spring 1944-1945 (details three figures and their uniforms, equipment and weapons)
  • (1) Soldato, I Battaglione, Raggruppamento “Cacciatori degli Appennini’
  • (1a) The metal sleeve shield of the Cacciatori degli Appennini
  • (2) Comandante di battaglione, unidentified ‘brigata partigiana’
  • (3) Hauptwachtmeister, unidentified Gendarmerie unit

The Maps
There are 2 color maps by JB Illustration included in this volume which are well done, nicely detailed and are of:
  • Partisan Warfare, Spring 1944
  • Partisan Warfare, Summer-Autumn 1944

The Notes
There are 3 paragraphs of notes included in this volume of:
  • Acknowledgements
  • Author’s Notes
  • Artist Note

The Captions
The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The captions go into very specific detail as to weapons, armor, locations as well as specific individuals and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by Pier Paolo Battistelli and Piero Crociani’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing Ltd. Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here when you make your purchase.

All in all I am very impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many excellent and subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the varied anti-axis partisan actions against the occupying Germans and the Italian fascist allies in Italy during World War II very well. This volume will be of particular interest and beneficial to anyone interested in Partisan warfare. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.

World War 2 Combat Uniforms and Insignia - Squadron/Signal Publications, #6013 - Published in 1977 - Martin Windrow with color illustrations by Gerry Embleton

The Military Book Club Encyclopedia of Infantry Weapons of WWII - Saturn Books Ltd. - Ian V. Hogg

Guns of the Reich - Firearms of the German Forces, 1939-1945 - George Markham - Arms and Armour Press

German Infantry in Action - Squadron/Signal Publications - Combat Troops Number 2 - Created by Uwe Feist - Captions by Norman Harms - Uniform Illustration by Ron Volstadt

German Automatic Weapons of World War II - Live Firing Classic Military Weapons in Colour Photographs - Robert Bruce- Windrow & Greene

Search inside the book on the Osprey web site HERE Live links

Osprey Publishing also has World War II Partisan Warfare in Italy available as and eBook on ePub or PDF formats.

Look inside World War II Partisan Warfare in Italy on the Amazon web site: HERE Live links

Look inside the Kindle Edition of World War II Partisan Warfare in Italy on the Amazon web site: HERE Live links
Highs: Nicely written text and captions Excellent photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book of World War II partisan warfare in Italy that is well researched and written.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-4728-0893-6
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95 / UK £11.99
  PUBLISHED: Oct 12, 2015

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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