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Italian troops in Sinai 1917-1918
(3 voti)
Écrit par Giuseppe Condorelli   




A lot has been written on the contribution of men and equipment offered by Turkey, Germany, Austria and Bulgaria and by Britain, France and Australia in Middle East during World War One ( 1914 -18).Very pour is known, about Italian troops, placed side by side the Allied forces on sands of Sinai and Palestine.

In April 1917, the English Headquarter, well impressed by performances of Italian army on the Veneto-friulano front, would have appreciate the sending of at least a battalion to employ supporting an English division that general Murray would have used for the imminent final offensive on Bersheeba and Gaza. The Italian Headquarter sent a battalion of "bersaglieri" (based in Tripoli, Lybia), supported by some tens "carabinieri" and 5 or 6 single-engine planes SALM S.2 of the 118th Recognition Squadron.


The Italian unit, had 6 horses and 40 mules and modest a quantitative of provisions, medicinal, ammunitions for guns and rifles (in all 870.000cartridges) and field equipment.
It disembarks in Egypt in May under command of major F. D'Agostino The 13 june, the troops moved by railway from Port Said to Rafa, located just behind the front line, in those drawn, from 49th Indian Brigade. Italian cavalrymen (a group of forty) entrusted the task to watch the final stretch of the important railway that connected Port Said to the front line; an objective that had been many times over attacked by Turkish lancers and Bedouins.
The new Commander of the British Army, general Allenby, began to prepare one new great offensive with the objective to smash within the autumn the Turk- German line Gaza-Bersheeba and then to march to Jerusalem.
The Italian troops was aggregated to the mobile force of general Watson (a large mixed contingent that included 20th Indian infantry, Brigade, a Brigade of Indian cavalry and some French horse riflemen) to which Allenby has entrusted the task to garrison a strecth of front line near Gaza. Meantime a small detachment of "carabinieri" were left Rafa in order to watch the railway. In november italian "bersaglieri" were repeatedly employed.
7 December, an unit composed by 50 "bersaglieri" and "carabinieri" was employed in Jerusalem for guard services. 15 December, an other Italian unit was sended to garrison Beit Hanun (eight kilometers north of Gaza) in order to defend the seaside railway. 10 December, the Italian Headquarter decided to send reinforces to Port Said, and created the First Company "Cacciatori di Palestina" (140 men) under the "bersaglieri" captain F.Mercuri.
26 February, some Italian cavalry garrisons the railway node between Giaffa and Gerusalemme and little days after general Allenby, "satisfied for the good conduct of the Italians", demanded to Italian Headquarter the sending of two divisions, but general Armando Diaz denied because all the men are necessary on the Veneto front line. A few days after the British and Arabic troops catch up Damascus.

All the Italian units in Palestine and Egypt, dislocated in Port Said, Giaffa and Sarona, come back in Italy in August of 1919, while "carabinieri" remained in Jerusalem to protect our consular delegation until 1° March 1921.

You will find other images on my small diorama depicting this subject in the "Toy Soldiers" section


  • Guerra e vittoria (1915-1918), di P.Maravigna - Torino, UTET, 1927
  • Military Operations, Egypt and Palestine, 1928, di G. MacMunn e C.Falls.
  • The Palestine Campaigns, 1928, di A.P. Wavell,.
  • Zwischen Kaukasus und Sinai 1922, di Kress von Kressenstein.
  • Official History of Australia in the war I, di C.E.W. Bean, Vol.1.
  • La Grande Guerra, di Emilio Faldella - Longanesi, Vol.2.
  • Gli Italiani in Palestina, (in Storia Militare N.33, giugno 1996)