Italian Colonial Troops 1882–1960

Italian Colonial Troops 1882–1960

Men-at-Arms 544
  • Author: Gabriele Esposito
  • Illustrator: Giuseppe Rava
  • Short code: MAA 544
  • Publication Date: 26 May 2022
  • Number of Pages: 48
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About this Product

A complete illustrated study of the varied range of Italian colonial units who served in East and North Africa.

Italy only unified as a nation in 1870 and was late, and therefore impatient, in the 'scramble' for Africa. An initial foothold in Eritrea/Somalia, north-east Africa, led to a disastrous defeat in Ethiopia in 1896 at the Battle of Adwa, but Italian Somaliland was later consolidated on the west coast of the Red Sea. During 1911, Italy also invaded Libya, securing the coast, however fighting continued throughout World War I and only ended in the early 1930s. A number of native colonial regiments were raised in both Italian East Africa and Libya (in the latter, even a pioneering paratroop unit), of which most fought sturdily for Italy against the Allies in 1940-43. These units had particularly colourful uniforms and insignia. Another small guard unit also served in the Italian concession at Tientsin, China in 1902-1943. After World War II, a remnant unit served on in Somalia under a UN mandate until 1960.

This intriguing volume describes and illustrates the dress and equipment used by these forces and details how they were deployed to maintain a colonial empire for over half a century.

Biographical Note

Gabriele Esposito is a professor of modern history and a freelance military history author, specializing in uniformology. His interests range from ancient civilizations to modern post-colonial conflicts and 19th-century Italian, Spanish and Latin American wars. He has been published by Osprey, Pen & Sword, Winged Hussar and Libreria Editrice Goriziana, and has contributed articles to journals such as Ancient Warfare Magazine, Medieval Warfare Magazine, History of War and Focus Storia.


Eritrea and Somalia - Libya
Colonisation under Fascism - World War II
North-East Africa - Libya - World War I - Interwar - Ethiopia
(former Abyssinia) - World War II and after
1885-95: Italian and native infantry - Supporting arms
1895-1935: Native infantry - Supporting arms - Minor units
- Specialist units - Paramilitaries and auxiliaries
1935-36: Maximum expansion - Eritrean Army Corps
Native infantry - Supporting arms - Paramilitaries and
auxiliaries - Oltregiuba
UN Trust Territory of Somalia, 1949-60
Unification of forces - Paramilitaries and auxiliaries
Infantry - Supporting arms: cavalry - Camel troops -
Artillery and engineers - Minor units - Paramilitaries and

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