Sacrifice on the Steppe, Hope Hamilton

Sacrifice on the Steppe, Hope Hamilton

The Italian Alpine Corps in the Stalingrad Campaign, 1942-1943

The role of Germany's allies on the Eastern Front is normally reduced to little more than a footnote, a collapsing line significant only in its impact on the Germans. This work goes some way towards redressing the balance, looking at the fate of the Italian Alpine Corps during and after the battle of Stalingrad.

Mussolini sent a small expeditionary force to Russia soon after the German invasion, and by the end of 1942 an entire Italian army was fighting on the southern front. The Italians were used to hold part of the long front on the Don, west of Stalingrad (along with the Hungarians and Romanians). The Alpine corps was originally destined for the Caucasus, where their skills in mountain warfare may have been of use, but they too were sent to the Don.     

The result was almost inevitable. The poorly equipped Italians were forced to retreat by the massive Soviet counterattacks west of Stalingrad. Some units managed to reach safety, and were evacuated to Italy, but most Italian soldiers were killed or captured, with many more dying in captivity (interestingly the survivors of this captivity don't see their poor treatment as deliberate, but instead as a reflection of the difficult wartime conditions in the Soviet Union).

This a useful addition to the literature on the Eastern Front, giving an interesting picture of an army normally only mentioned in foot notes.

Part 1: Italian Troops are Sent to Russia
1 - The Invasion of Russia
2 - Summer of 1942
3 - The Trek of the Alpini
4 - On the Don Lines
5 - General Conditions on the Don Front
6 - The Soviet Winter Offensive Begins
7 - Transfer of the Julia Division
8 - Encirclement of the Alpine Corps

Part II: La Ritirata: Withdrawal of the Alpine Corps from the Don
9 - Retreat During the Height of Winter
10 - The Cuneense and Julia Continue to Withdraw
11 - Disaster on the Steppe
12 - Withdrawal of the Tridentina Division
13 - Out of the Encirclement - The March Continues
14 - Survivors of the Withdrawal Return to Italy

Part III: Prisoners of War
15 - Capture at Valuiki
16 - Marches of the Davai
17 - Prisoner of War Transports
18 - Prisoner of War Camps - The First Months
19 - Camps Suzdal and Krasnogorsk

Part IV: Il Ritorno: Returning Home
20 - The Homeward Journey
21 - Le Perdite - The Losses

Epilogue: A Sign of Hope

Author: Hope Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2011

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