❤ Sharing Folkworthy Stuffs ❤
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Some excerpts from the diary of Sergeant Ettore Galeotti, 25 years old, from Milan, of the 11th Alpini Regiment, 5th Alpini Division "Pusteria": “*10 January 1941. During these days I got to know better the alpini in my squad: corporal first class Remondino, chief machine gunner Blandino, machine gun carrier Albri, ammunition carriers Capri, Ambrosi and Caveglia, as well as riflemen Vair, Actis, Cugno, Mussino, Albertini. I immediately bonded with them. As soon as they learned that I was a newly-promoted reserve sergeant, and thus I was not a career NCO, and that I had performed my military service in the Trento and Bassano Battalions, always together with the Venetian “pais” [Venetian dialect: paisans] (…) I became “one of them”. They are all good men. One day, along with the food rations, some mail came, as well as a message from the regimental command informing that alpini Cugno and Albri had been awarded the Bronze Medal for Military Valor. We could not celebrate because we did not have anything to drink, but we committed to a great booze-up at the inn at Bassano Bridge if we get back home. (…) They had earned their medals since the first action (…) Coming into line in late November, near Klisura, (…) [their battalion] had withstood three days of continuous, fierce Greek attacks aimed at breaking through towards the Vjosë valley. Together with the other battalion of the 11th Alpini Regiment – the Trento Battalion – the Bassano Battalion had resisted strenuously and thus helped taking pressure off the 7th Alpini Regiment and the remnants of the "Julia" Division, deployed on their flank. This was a typical example of what happened on the Albanian front: a regiment, newly arrived from Italy, without supply trains, without artillery, without service units, was immediately sent to the frontline (…) After such a clash, in these conditions, a regiment only existed on paper. What was actually left were two decimated battalions (…) The fighting on our right continued, and had grown closer. There were worries that the Greeks had managed to achieve a breakthrough, or at least to advance. If those fighting against them were the “veci” [Venetian dialect: literally “old men”, but among the Alpini it means the veterans] from the "Julia" [Alpine Division], I thought, they would probably manage to plug the leak, but “radio scarpa” [military slang: literally, “radio shoe”; it means rumors among the soldiers] said that the first units from the "Lupi di Toscana" [Infantry Division] were about to come into line: probably yet another infantry division thrown into the furnace, newly arrived from Italy, without any preparation and maybe without artillery and heavy weapons as well. As had often happened in the last weeks. It was not possible to create a barrier with units that were facing their baptism of fire, thrown into the fray without preparation, without training, without adequate weapons and equipment… (…) I had witnessed the tragedy of the "Bari" Division which, under the hammering of the Greek regiments, had literally been dismembered into many small units, scattered here and there all over the frontline. Some had even become attached to other units; especially Alpini units. I myself met in several occasions, infantrymen and non-commissioned officers (and even second lieutenants), dispersed, from the "Bari" Division who did not want to retreat towards the rear and instead asked to remain on the frontline, but wanted to tag along with us Alpini, because they knew that among us organisational spirit, preparation and, above all, broterhood existed, as well as determination in facing adversity. (…) 26 January 1941. We were slowly withdrawing, in sparse order, with the intent to regroup later when sheltered by the ditches along the path we had reached. During the withdrawal, an episode struck me. In a dip in the terrain I saw an alpino who was crouching down, with his pants down and the butt naked as if he was relieving himself. I moved closer to him, surprised by his choice of timing, as the bullets were still whistling around us, albeit higher and less frequently than before. As soon as he saw me at his side, he raised his death-pale face and told me: “Sergeant, I have a terrible stomach ache, but I cannot take a shit, I can’t stand it anymore, I feel like I am passing out…” At that moment I saw that he had a small round hole in his left buttock, with no blood coming out, and I realized that he must have a bullet in his belly, which perhaps he hadn’t even noticed. I placed a hand on his shoulder and told him: “You should lie down in order to feel less pain”. (…) It was the end. I kept holding him by the shoulders so that he would not feel alone, but after a few minutes he fell on his side, (…) lifeless. I tidied up his uniform as much as I could, I put his hat on his head, I pulled up his pants so that his would be a dignified death, an Alpino’s death. I took the documents for the family…*”.