Military History/Italy 1943-45
It's 70 years this weekend since Italy surrendered to the Allies. From then until the end of the war in Europe what role did the Italian military play ? Did they simply turn on the Germans and fight against them or did the Allies not trust them as reliable allies ? Did the soldiers, sailors and airmen go home and leave the fighting to the British and Americans or were Italian troops involved right up to May 1945 ? What role did their navy play 1943-45 ?
Not something I've followed in my readings. It is an interesting question.
I found the following info on wikipedia:
About two months after he was stripped of power, Benito Mussolini was rescued by the Germans in Operation Eiche ("Oak"). The Germans re-located Mussolini to northern Italy where he set up a new Fascist state, the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana or RSI). Many Italian personalities joined the RSI, like General Rodolfo Graziani.
The Allied armies continued to advance through Italy despite increasing opposition from the Germans. The Allies soon controlled most of southern Italy, and Naples rose against and ejected the occupying German forces. The Allies organized some Italian troops in the south into what were known as "co-belligerent" or "royalist" forces. In time, there was a co-belligerent army (Italian Co-Belligerent Army), navy (Italian Co-Belligerent Navy), and air force (Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force). These Italian forces fought alongside the Allies for the rest of the war. Other Italian troops, loyal to Mussolini and his RSI, continued to fight alongside the Germans (among them were the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano, the National Republican Army). From this point on, a large Italian resistance movement located in northern Italy fought a guerrilla war against the German and RSI forces.
Considering that the Italian theater was a backwater after the Normandy landings, it could be assumed that the Italian co-beligerent forces were used to harass the Germans and were primarily involved in a civil war of sorts against the Pro-Axis forces under Mussolini. That they were active as partisans is evident by their apprehension and execution of Il Duce before the Allied authorities could apprehend him.