Happy Birthday, Alpini

With bragging rights that self-credit them as the oldest continually-formed Alpine mountain infantry in the world, Italy’s Alpini date back to 15 October 1872, when 15 companies were formed to a concept developed by Captain Giuseppe Perrucchetti, trained and equipped to fight successfully in the most inhospitable climates along frozen peaks and rocky crags.

Italian Alpini at his post on the front with Austria, 1916. IWM Q 65104

Italian Alpini climbing Fiat–Revelli Modello 1914 machine gun in the Dolomites during the First World War

Italian Alpini on parade in the Baltic during NATO operations, 2019. 

Since then, the “Black Feathers” have been an elite force, tapped by Italy for much overseas use from the Boxer Rebellion to the more recent wars in Afghanistan. They fought the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserjäger and German Alpenkorps in the Great War as well as both with and against the German Gebirgsjäger, French Chasseurs Alpins, and U.S. 10th Mountain in WWII.

These days, the Alpini form two light brigades– Julia and Taurinense– as well as a separate Ranger-style airborne unit, 4° Reggimento Alpini Paracadutisti. Their motto is Di Qui Non Si Passa! (“Nobody passes here!”)

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