- Italian invasion of France
Italian invasion of France in June 1940 was a small scale invasion that started near the end of the
Battle of France. The goal of the Italian offensive was to take control of the Alpsmountain range and the region around Nice. The offensive was a failure, as the Italian forces did not advance far but sustained heavy casualties.
10 June, 1940, Italy declared war on France and Britain. The French government was already fleeing to Bordeauxand Pariswas an open city. Feeling that the war would soon be over, Italian dictator Benito Mussolinisaid to Pietro Badoglio, the Chief of Staffof the Italian Royal Army ("Regio Esercito"), "I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought." [Frans De Waal, "Peacemaking Among Primates", Harvard University Press, 1990, ISBN 067465921X, [http://books.google.com/books?id=5at0TN8U6RMC&pg=PA244&lpg=PA244&dq=%22I+only+need+a+few+thousand+dead+so+that+I+can+sit+at+the+peace+conference+as+a+man+who+has+fought%22&source=web&ots=vvQ3lEE7yZ&sig=zk1SvqlN7czfNtxpw2zAMbXWsss&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result Google Print, p.244] ] Mussolini had the immediate war aim of expanding the Italian colonies in North Africa by taking land from the British and French colonies.
However, Italy was not prepared for war and Italy's armed forces made little impact during the last few days of the
Battle of France. Italian dictator Benito Mussoliniwas well aware of Italy's limited military potential and yet he still sought to profit from Germany's successes. But German dictator Adolf Hitlerdemanded that the Italians participate more if they wanted to share in the spoils.
Of Italy's declaration of war,
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, said: "On this tenth day of June 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor." [http://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/sound-recordings.html]
Much of June was lost as the Italian armed forces prepared for an invasion. Italy massed 32 divisions on the French border, but even after additional time for preparations the Italian forces were not at their prime: their artillery was outdated, and various other equipment was lacking (they did not even possess enough pots and pans to feed their troops). [http://www.comandosupremo.com/1940.html]
21 June, troops of the Italian Royal Army crossed the French border in three places. The Italian army attacked in two directions. The Italians attacked through the Alps and they attacked on the Mediterranean sealine towards Nice. Initially, the Italian offensive enjoyed a limited level of success. The French defensive lines on the Italian border were weakened due to French High Command shuffling forces to fight the Germans. Some French mountain units were sent to Norway. However, the Italian offensive soon stalled at the fortified Alpine Linein the Alps region and at the southern end of the Maginot Linein the Mediterranean region. The attack through the Little Saint Bernard Passin the Alps had to stop due to a massive snow storm. The Italian forces attacking through the French Rivieraadvanced only about 5 miles and were stopped in the vicinity of the town of Menton. [http://www.comandosupremo.com/1940.html]
25 June 1940, France surrendered to Germany. Italy occupied some areas of French territory along the Franco-Italian border.
During the invasion, Italian casualties were 1,247 men dead or missing and 2,631 wounded. A further 2,151 Italians were hospitalized due to
frostbite. The French lost eight men.
Order of battle
*Army Group "West" - Prince General
Umberto di Savoia
**1st Army - General
***2nd Corps - General
***3rd Corps - General
***15th Corps - General
**4th Army - General
***1st Corps - General
***4th Corps - General
***Alpine Corps - General
Luigi NegriOverall, the Italian forces numbered about 700,000 troops. However, they had inadequate artillery and transport, nor were they equipped for cold Alpine environment.
*Alpine Army (l'Armée des Alpes) - General
**3 infantry division of type B
**fortification sectors: Dauphiné, Savoie, Alpes Maritimes
**defence sectors: Rhône, NiceOverall, French forces in the region numbered about 35 000 soldiers.
* [http://www.comandosupremo.com/France.html Italian order of battle for the invasion of France (20 June, 1940)]
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