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The 29th Waffen Divisionen der SS (Italianishe Nr. 1)

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Naming History: 11/1943: Italienische-Freiwilligen-Legion
12/1943: 1.Sturmbrigade Italienische Freiwilligen Legion
09/1944: Waffen-Grenadier-Brigade der SS (Italian No. 1) 03/1945: 29.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (Italian No. 1)
Divisional Status: in name only
Nationality: Italian
Fought in: Unknown
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Fate: Unknown

 

The 29th Waffen Divisionen der SS (Italianishe Nr. 1)

Following the Italian armistice with the Allies, on 24 September 1943, Himmler announced the creation of an Italian SS Legion, to be formed in the still-occupied areas in Northern Italy. Some volunteers were genuine Fascisti volunteers, others former inmates of prison and labour camps released to serve the Germans. Designated 1st Italienische Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade (or la Brigata d'Assaulto, Miliza Armata in Italian) began operating against Communist partisans in German-occupied Northern Italy with it's two battalions, named Debica and Vendetta . In March, both battalions were sent to the Anzio beachhead where they fought alongside German forces, receiving favourable reports and taking heavy losses. In recognition of their performance, Himmler declared the unit to be fully integrated into the Waffen SS.

The Italian SS troops continued to conduct anti-partisan operations in Northern Italy for the remainder of the war. In the last weeks of the war, the brigade was officially upgraded to divisional status as the 29th Waffen Divisionen der SS , taking the vacant number of the Kaminsky brigade. 

Service Dress

Italian SS troops wore the uniform of the Italian Army. This consisted of the grey-green M1940 continental uniform (somewhat greener than the feldgrau uniform of the German military) and M1933 helmet. The M1940 continental uniform comprised a four-button tunic and half-breeches. The tunic had a stand-and-fall collar with small lapels, four box-pleated patch pockets with three-point buttoned flaps and an integral cloth belt fasting at the front with two horizontally spaced buttons. A Polish false cuff seam was occasionally seen on the tunic. The tunic was to be worn with grey-green shirt and tie; however, this was rarely seen in the front lines, and either a shirt with rolled collar, or a neck scarf was more commonly seen. 

As well, the Italian paratroop tunic was also seen. It was collarless, and had the same caped chest similar to the Italian Sahariana tunic which formed the top flaps of two pleated patch pockets on the chest, and two skirt pockets. It had and integral cloth belt with two frame buckles, and closely buttoned cuffs. 

The Italian SS used a distinctive sleeve eagle in place of the standard SS eagle, with the normal wreathed swastika replaced by the Italian Fascist badge, consisting of an eagle clutching an Italian fasces an axe tied into a bundle of rods, it's head to the right in it's talons. It was embroidered in both silver hand-embroidery (likely for officers) and silver-grey machine embroidery (likely for enlisted personnel), on both red and black backgrounds.

The half-breeches were loose-cut, being confined below the knee by grey-green puttees. As well, Italian paratroop pants, which were loosely cut and ankle-length, gathering into or over black laced ankle boots.

A camouflaged shelter-quarter-cum-poncho was also issued, in a wavy pattern of forest green, sandy yellow and chestnut brown. When worn as a poncho, it formed a thickly folded hip-length "surcoat" closely buttoned around the neck and the "wings" folded inside the arm holes, giving a bunched effect at the shoulder. It was usually held in place by the belt and equipment. 

When not wearing the helmet, it is likely the Italian bustina was worn. It was of sidecap shape but with a rounded front flap which could be pulled down as a peak, and with neck-and-ear flaps which were normally worn buttoned together over the crown. It was worn with a white metal version of the Italian Fascist badge.

In bad weather, the Italian greatcoat was likely worn. It was also of grey-green cloth, with a deep fall collar and slash side pockets with a slanted flap. it was single-breasted, with five buttoned down the front, and usually had plain cloth shoulder straps.

Officer's Clothing

Italian SS officers wore the standard uniform for officers worn by the Italian Army. It was similar in cut to the other ranks' uniform, but of superior material, and with longer lower lapels and shorter upper lapels. It had pleated breast and skirt pockets with box flaps, turn-back cuffs and silver buttons (which were likely allowed to tarnish to a dull grey in the front lines). It was often worn with flared breeches and black knee boots (though junior officers in combat preferred the ranker's puttees or long socks and ankle boots in order to make them look more like their men). 

When not wearing the helmet, officers either wore the bustina or in some cases, the German M1933 officer's cap. However, instead of the Death's Head of the SS, the Italian Fascist badge on the crown of the cap.