Mystery Italian Medal

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by camnet, Nov 15, 2009.

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  1. Could anyone advise me on a mystery Italian bronze medal which was found amongst my granddad's personal effects?

    My Grandad served in the 5/7 Bn The Gordon Highlanders, 51st Highland Division, serving in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy during WWII. I would guess he must have "acquired" the medal from an Italian prisoner in one of the first two of these places.

    The head of the medal has the inscription "VITT EM III RE D'ITALIA IMP DI ETIOPIA". The tail of the medal has the fasces - axe in a bundle of sticks - symbol, a picture of a mountain and the inscription "Molti Nemici Molto Onore" above Mussolini's signature.

    Does anyone know what it could be? Many thanks.

    Attached Files:

  2. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    The text translates as "many enemies, much honour".
  3. All the medal details are in the link I posted above.
  4. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Doh!! :oops:
  5. Are you sure you have the same medal there?

  6. Quite sure. What part of the description, and the photos on the link have you in doubt?
  7. Well, it sort of looks the same, but is it the medal the OP wants identified?

  8. I dunno if it's the one the OP wants identified, but it looks eactly the same to me. What more do you want?
  9. It looks exactly the same, because it is the same medal.

    What are you driving at?
  10. I think the point here is that Camnet's grandpa probably picked it up off a dead "eyetie" or in some African Flea market.

    This medal was awarded to the Italian Forces involved in the rather inglorious subjugation of what they called Abyssinia. A fine victory for that fat pouf Mussolini over a bunch of tribesmen armed with spears and sharpened fruit. Reminiscent of Britains victories a century earlier.
  11. Thanks smudge67, that is indeed the right medal. Having looked at your link I can make out the 'V Perrone' signature on the medal with a magnifying glass, a detail I hadn't noticed. Not sure what a flid is, but I'm duly red-faced with embarrassment at not finding this. Thanks again gents.

    I think the Italians had quite a hard time subduing the Ethiopians - it was far from a walkover. One of their earlier invasion armies got wiped out and I believe the survivors were castrated and returned to Italy?
  12. camnet – ”I think the Italians had quite a hard time subduing the Ethiopians - it was far from a walkover. One of their earlier invasion armies got wiped out and I believe the survivors were castrated and returned to Italy?”

    Careful camnet, dangerous to introduce any element of history when discussing Italian military – unless it’s ‘can’t fight/won’t fight’ of course :omg:

    The battle of Adowa 1896 was not so much a defeat as a massacre. Reported in the press at the time, and popularly perpetuated ever since, as an Imperial army beaten by a bunch of spear-chuckers – screw the history as it sits nicely with WWII propaganda, right. ;) To thumbnail, the fledgling Italy as we know it (post circa 1859) was trying hard to play catch-up among long-toothed European superpowers. At the ‘Scramble for Africa’ convention they asked for and were ‘given’ Eritrea, as no one else wanted it. They bought there way in locally, not blasted, and established a base largely engaged in trade and building.

    Meanwhile, neighbouring Abyssinia was awash with feudal warlords struggling for supremacy among themselves and against neighbouring regimes. As the Euro Imperial Club required, Italy sought to expand it's tiny Empire (with the consent of the other members) and, like the Septics with Sadman and apparently us in Stan, chose to back someone who appeared to be rising towards the top rather than take on everyone.

    So they piled in money, munitions and advisors, and when big Ras was enough of a big boss, they thought he’d be happy to let them be king as long as they let him wear the crown. But, like Sadman, having ‘got there’ he wanted to do his own thing. Bad news for the Italian politicians who sold their country that the huge expenditure would/was buying them an extension to their empire. They got Ras Menelik to sign a silly deal. Silly because they presented him two copies, one in each language, which were the same except in respect of foreign policy. His one stated he could ask Italy for help with foreign policy, and the Italian one said Italy would deal with his foreign policy? :omg:

    This ploy may have worked in the past with others, but not with Ras. They fell out and both started limited sorties and small/moderate offences – the Italians did not have forces there for more, only about 25K. Something Ras had twigged was modern firesticks were the way forward. While a lot of countries were sending him ‘presents’ of hardware to curry favour of the new ‘boss’, many also sent funds with which he bought more. Just about all the warlords were now in the Ras fold, and Ras could amass an army of around 200K. Significantly, while this included cavalry and an Imperial Guard, about half now had the latest rifles, in addition to rifled artillery which in the main was provided and tutored by the Russians. :omg:

    Ras and army were at Adowa, and Italian PM, Crispi, ordered he be attacked??? Commander Baratieri declined for pretty obvious reasons, but the politico replied by accusing him or cowardice, and surreptitiously sending a replacement commander. Baratieri was astute and no coward. He had deployed 20K men with arty in a defensible line to meet the expected advance of Ras. However, it’s not certain if he had wind of the writing on the wall, or just suspected it, but he decided to mount an attack as ordered and set out with 17.5K men (inc. several thousand natives troops) and 56 guns.

    Though he couldn’t attack a town of 200K troops, his plan was tough but stood up. He would hold the hills north of the town and decimate Ras’s army as it attacked him across the plain. But, hereafter just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong. As there was little better than tracks and trails down to Adowa, (as shown by unreliable hand drawn maps), he divided his force into 4 Batts with each to follow a different route by night, to end up on dominant high ground in fire support of each other.

    The night march over virtually unknown routes was a disaster. Two Batts march into each other at some junction, each accusing the other of going the wrong way. The Batt with the guns meandered way off their destination and eventually ended up way out of position. No radios of course :roll: , and, their heliographs had a tendency not to work at night ;)

    One Batt arrived and engaged, and did well. But, a second Batt was ordered to move left to support the first, and it moved right to engage??? The jury’s still out on that one? This opened a gap between the Batts which Ras dropped a mere 30K into, (each Batt was only @ 4.4K). However, Ras was actually on the point of jacking it in despite his advantage, but was persuaded to commit further forces. The Italians held for hours and took a very heavy toll of the waves thrown against them. Batts 3 and 4 were respectively ambushed and attacked and progressively worn down despite the Arty Batt fighting a text book withdrawal.

    So, was the main bone of contention that an Imperial ‘Army’ was beat by a bunch of ‘spear-chuckers’? – certainly that’s how most of the distant home press reported it. No, the bitter pill was what followed. I’ve read a number of accounts which conclude the battle by saying something like ‘it was not their custom to take prisoners’. This I find both politico condescending and bollox. For one they did take prisoners as they had a practice of mutilating them, and, Ras etc were avid practising slavers. I’ve also read Ras stopped the torture when he ‘discovered’ it. Fine, as we can’t ask him I say IF he stopped it, it was because he saw a ransom opportunity – which indeed followed (fact).

    From the few memoirs, when the battles were over, when those who could extricate themselves had done so and all that was left was the dead, dying and hidden, the heathens moved among them to hack them up, or worse if they were up to it. On one grassy hillside which had been held then withdrawn up, they were having a problem with their search. So they set fire to the grass to burn those too injured to move and flush out those who weren’t.

    You feel that’s their way of doing things, their culture, fine. So why then feel indignant about Musso’s return in 1936 when he visited on the ‘spear-chuckers’ what they dished out 40 years before? I fully agree that Musso wanted to boosts his seriously fagging career, and HAD to be sure he would win, but in terms of payback, surely the only sympathy possible is that being 40 years it wasn’t levied on Ras or his army – then history's like that, ever heard of Omdurman? ;)

  13. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Hmmm, sounds like one of those propaganda horror stories churned out by the Fascist government during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The truth is quite the reverse. During the First Utalo-Abyssinian War 1895-6, the Italian prisoners were considerably well treated, though their native auxiliaries who had also been captured often suffered amputations of various limbs, which is possibly where the story originated.
  14. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story