San Marco Regiment: Wikis

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The San Marco Regiment (Italian: Reggimento San Marco), located in Brindisi, are the Marines of the Italian Navy. Until the middle of the 1990's the unit was known as the “San Marco Battalion” (Battaglione San Marco), until it was expanded beyond battalion size because of the new geopolitical situation after the end of the Cold War and an increasing number of international missions.

Contents

History

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Beginnings

San Marco Regiment Insignia

The San Marco Regiment traces its history back to the La Marina Regiment, formed in 1713.[1] During the Wars of Italian Independence the Italian Marines were known as the Fanteria Real Marina, units of specially selected sailors who were skilled marksmen.[2] The Regiment also played an important role in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion and in the Italo-Turkish War.[3]

WWI

With the beginning of the Italian campaign during World War I, the unit was named the Brigata Marina (Naval Brigade), and included two regiments, one infantry and one artillery.[4] The brigade's infantry battalions were drawn from various Army units, customs units in addition to sailors from the torpedoed Italian navy cruiser Amalfi who were hastily equipped as infantry.[5] Following the Battle of Caporetto in October-November 1917, the Italian front had almost collapsed and the Marina Brigade fought in the defence of Venice during the Battle of the Piave River. After the war, the grateful city presented a flag with the Lion of Saint Mark, from Venice's coat of arms, to the soldiers of the Naval Brigade. The Naval Brigade was re-named the San Marco Brigade because of the connection with Venice.[6]

Interwar

Between the two world wars only a “San Marco Battalion” existed. A special unit of the Battalion was deployed to Shanhaikwan, China in 1924 and stayed there until it was interned by the Japanese in 1943. The San Marco Battalion also served during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

WWII

At the beginning of the Second World War the regiment increased in size, and prepared for amphibious landings at Cape Martin in France which never happened. .[7] The Regiment expanded to seven battalions before the final desert battles in 1943, including the Battaglione Nuotatori who were trained as parachutists in 1941.

The 3rd Battalion of the 'San Marco' Regiment (which became known as the Tobruk battalion [8] repelled landings by British Commandos at Tobruk during the night of 13/14 September in 1942. As a result, 200 British commandos were taken prisoner.

The regiment fought at Tobruk and Tunisia, where it defended the Mareth line during April and May of 1943. The Tobruk Battalion was later destroyed on the night of 5 April 1943 while defending the Oidane-el-Hachana line against an attack on Wadi Akarit by the British 69th Infantry Brigade and Gurkha units from the Indian 4th Infantry Division.[9] [10]"When we were about ten yards away we had reached the top of the slit trench and we killed any of the survivors," recalled British infantryman Bill Cheall , who had just seen his section leader shot down by a San Marco Marine. "It was no time for pussy footing, we were intoxicated with rage and had to kill them to pay for our fallen pal." [11] German General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim later said of the San Marco Marines fighting abilities in Tunisia in 1943, that they were "the best soldiers I ever commanded". [12]

Following the Italian surrender in 1943, many San Marco marines fought for the Allies against the Germans, however the 4th (Caorle) Battalion fought for the Germans until the end of the war.

Post WWII

The San Marco Regiment was deactivated in 1956 but was reformed on 1 January 1965 to battalion strength (Marina Battaglione "San Marco") in Venice with 750 personnel.

During the Italian-Yugoslav tensions of Triest and Istria, the Yugoslav head of state Tito requested the Italian government move the unit from Venice, because he believed it represented a possible aggression against Yugoslavia, and that it was not necessary for the defense of Italy according to the Warsaw Pact. The battalion was then shifted to Brindisi in Southern Italy and was integrated completely into the Italian navy.

In Venice the Italian army reconstituted its Lagunari (amphibious) troops. From 1982 to 1984 the battalion took part in international peacekeeping missions in Lebanon.

Today

The San Marco parading in Roma, on 2 June 2007

Today the San Marco regiment consists of the Amphibious Battalion Grado and the Support Battalion Golametto with approximately 1,500 soldiers. Combined with the Logistics and Training Regiment “Carlotto”, landing boats and helicopters, the San Marco Regiment can conduct amphibious assaults and landings. If necessary, the San Marco Regiment can be reinforced by the Army's Lagunari. The naval command is connected by unified operations staff and is closely associated with the Spanish marines. The San Marco Regiment has been active in international peace-keeping operations. Since the early 1980's the unit has deployed to Lebanon, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, Eritrea and Iraq.[13]

The San Marco regiment and the Lagunari were used together for the first time in operation UNIVERSITY-FELL after the 2006 Lebanon war in a peacekeeping mission as the “Initial Entry Force” in September 2006.

Organization

Structure of the Amphibious Forces Command (COMFORSBARC).
  • Naval Disembarkation Force
      • San Marco Regiment
      • Assault Battalion Grado
      • Logistic Battalion Golametto
      • Naval Operations Company
      • Special Operations Company (Compagnia Operazioni Speciali Andrea Bafile)
      • Carlotto Regiment
      • Logistic Battalion Cortellazzo
      • Battalion schools Caorle
    • Disembarkation Group

Support Elements

The support elements of the regiment include a telecommunications center; a coordination center for fire support; air observer and coastal defense forces; and staff.

Special Forces

Special forces exist in the form of a separate company (“Demolitori di Ostacoli Antisbarco DOA”), tasked primarily with the clearing of landing zones and the removal of barriers, obstacles and mines. The soldiers can be landed by helicopters and speedboats. or from submarines. The DOA trains with the commando frogmen of the Italian Combat Fleet Command COMSUBIN.

Boarding Teams

Another separate company,consisting of about 180 men, the Naval Operation Company, leads the Boarding teams. These units of about 8 to 10 men conduct boardings and inspections of shipping, e.g. in embargo measures.

Grado battalion

A detachment of the Grado battalion parading on 2 June 2007

The Grado battalion contains the actual naval infantry component of the Italian navy. The battalion consists of a staff and supply company, three naval infantry companies, plus a 'heavy' company.

Each of the three combat companies consists of three 37 man platoons and a 21 man fire support section. These companies can be brought ashore with amphibious vehicles and boats or with helicopters. In other cases they can operate as mechanized infantry with a modified version of the M113 (“VCC-1”).

The heavy company forms the combat support component of the battalion with their air defense and anti-tank weapons as well as with the 120mm mortar .

Golametto battalion

Logistical support is conducted by the Golametto battalion. It contains transport and logistics companies, as well as a medical unit. The members of this battalion are fully trained naval infantrymen, who give landing operations the necessary technical and logistic support to the Grado battalion (combat service support). General tasks of support fall into the scope of responsibility of the Carlotto regiment, which supplies the Golametto battalion before the employment depending upon situation concerning orders with the necessary materials.

Heraldry

The soldiers of the San Marco regiment are designated as Marine Riflemen. Their rank system is similar to the Italian Army except that enlisted men are distinguished by a sailor's collar on the uniform and a dark blue or black beret. Both the Lagunari and the San Marco Marines have the Lion of Saint Mark in their coat of arms. Plans to consolidate both organizations together were temporarily abandoned in the mid-1990's. Today, however, a close cooperation exists because of a common operations staff in Brindisi, which has continued to strengthen ties between the two regiments ( Forza di Proiezione dal Mare ).

Equipment

Small arms

Heavy weapons

Armored vehicles

  • VCC-1 APC ( M113 )
  • VCC-2 APC
  • LVTP-7 ( AAV7|AAV7-A1 )

Unarmored vehicles

An VM 90T (Torpedo) of the San Marco Regiment of the Marina Militare on mission in Iraq, during Operazione Antica Babilonia.

References

See also

External links


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