The 2nd Alpini Regiment (Italian: 2° Reggimento Alpini) is a light Infantry regiment of the Italian Army, specializing in mountain combat. The Alpini are a mountain infantry corps of the Italian Army, that distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. The regiment was disbanded in 1943 due to losses on the Eastern Front, however one of its component battalions, the Saluzzo Battalion, was reformed in November 1945 after the end of hostilities in Europe. The regiment itself was reformed in 1963 as a training unit, however, following a restructuring of the Italian Army in 1974 it was disbanded once again. In 1992 the regiment was raised once again and today it consists of only the Saluzzo Battalion, based at Borgo San Dalmazzo as part of the Taurinense Brigade.
The 2nd Alpini Regiment was formed on 1 November 1882. It consisted of the three battalions: Col Tenda, Val Schio and Val Pesio, named after the valleys and localities from which their soldiers were recruited. In 1886 the Battalions were renamed, taking their new names from the location of their main logistic depot: Borgo San Dalmazzo, Vinadio (later renamed Saluzzo) and Dronero.
The "Saluzzo" battalion saw the regiment's first action in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911, fighting Ottoman forces in the Libyan desert.
During World War I the regiment consisted of 10 battalions and saw heavy fighting in the Alps against Austria’s Kaiserjäger and Germany’s Alpenkorps. The battalions of the regiment in these days were (pre-war raised units in bold, followed by their first and second line reserve battalions): Borgo San Dalmazzo, Val Stura, Monte Argentera, Cuneo
Dronero, Val Maira, Bicocca
Saluzzo, Val Varaita, Monte Viso
On 31 October 1935 the 4th Alpine Division “Cuneense” was formed and was composed of the 1st Alpini and 2nd Alpini Regiments and the 4th Mountain Artillery Regiment. As part of the 5 Alpine Division Pusteria the "Saluzzo" battalion fought in 1936 in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. At the time the regiment consisted of 160 officers and 5,046 NCOs and soldiers for a total strength of 5,206 men. The regiment also had 23 horses, 1,242 mules and 109 transport vehicles at its disposal. The order of Battle was as follows: 2nd Alpini Regiment HQ based in Cuneo
Command Company in Cuneo
Borgo San Dalmazzo Alpini Battalion in Cuneo
13th Alpini Company in Cuneo
14th Alpini Company in Cuneo
15th Alpini Company in Cuneo
104th Support Arms Company in Cuneo
Dronero Alpini Battalion in Dronero
17th Alpini Company in Dronero
18th Alpini Company in San Damiano Macra
19th Alpini Company in Dronero
105th Support Arms Company in Dronero
Saluzzo Alpini Battalion in Vinadio
21st Alpini Company in Vinadio
22nd Alpini Company in Demonte
23rd Alpini Company in Demonte
106th Support Arms Company in Demonte
14th 47/32 M35 Cannon Company in Cuneo
2nd Health Company in Cuneo
615th Field Hospital in Dronero
2nd Sanitary Support Company in Dronero
22nd Baggage Train Company in Bene Vagienna
On 21 June 1940 (one day before the French surrender) the “Cuneense” division began to advance with other Italian units into Southern France. The division was then sent to Albania, where it participated in the Italian attack on Greece. As the German Wehrmacht came to the aid of the beaten Italian armies in Albania in April 1941 through an invasion of Yugoslavia the “Cuneense” was sent north to aid the rapidly advancing German divisions, advancing through Montenegro and reaching Dubrovnik at the end of the campaign.
In September 1942 the “Cuneense” was sent together with the Alpini divisions Julia and Tridentina and other Italian units to the Soviet Union to form the ARMIR (Armata Italiana in Russia or Italian Army in Russia) and fight alongside the Germans against the Red Army. Taking up positions along the Don River the Italian units covered part of the left flank of the German Sixth Army, which spearheaded the German summer offensive of 1942 into the city of Stalingrad.
After successfully encircling the German Sixth army in Stalingrad the Red Army’s attention turned to the Italian units along the river Don. On 14 January 1943, the Soviet offensive Operation Little Saturn began and the three Alpini division found themselves quickly encircled by the rapidly advancing armoured Soviet Forces. The Alpinis held the front on the Don, but within three days the Soviets advanced 200 km to the left and right of the Alpini. On the evening of 17 January the commanding officer of the Italian Mountain corps General Gabriele Nasci finally ordered a full retreat. At this point the Julia and Cuneense divisions were already heavily decimated and only the Tridentina division was still capable of conducting combat operations. As the Soviets had already occupied every village bitter battles had to be fought to clear the way. On the morning of 28 January the last men of the 2nd Alpini Regiment had walked 200 km, fought in 20 battles and spent 11 nights camped out in the middle of the Russian Steppe. Temperatures during the nights were between -30°C and -40°C. During the 28th the last remnants of the regiment were annihilated by Cossack forces.
On 11 February 1943, the survivors were counted and out of 5,206 men of the 1st Alpini Regiment just 208 had survived; none of the soldiers of the battalions Borgo San Dalmazzo and Saluzzo had survived. The survivors were repatriated and after the signing of the Italian armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943 the regiment dissolved.
After World War II the "Saluzzo" battalion was reformed on 23 November 1945 as part of the 4th Alpini regiment and it carried on the traditions and regimental colours of the 2nd Alpini. The regiment itself was reformed on 1 July 1963 as a training unit with four battalions, which were named for the four Alpini Brigades to which the conscripts were sent after training: Tridentina, Orobica, Cadore and Taurinense battalions. On 31 October 1974 the regiment was disbanded in the 1974 restructuring of the Italian Army and the colours passed again to the "Saluzzo" battalion. After the disbandment of the regimental level in the Italian Army, the "Saluzzo" battalion came under direct control of the "Taurinense" brigade.
On 28 August 1992, the 2nd Alpini Regiment was recreated again and the "Saluzzo" became its single battalion. Today the 2nd Regiment consists of the “Saluzzo” battalion, the regimental command and a logistic support company. The regiment is based in Borgo San Dalmazzo in the province of Cuneo and part of the Taurinense Brigade. Regimental Command
Command and Logistic Support Company
Alpini Battalion Saluzzo
21st Alpini Company
22nd Alpini Company
23rd Alpini Company
106th Mortar Company
217th Anti-Tank Company "Val Maira"
The Alpini companies are equipped with Bv 206S tracked all-terrain carriers, Puma 6x6 wheeled armored personnel carriers and Lince light multirole vehicles. The mortar company is equipped with 120mm mortars, while the anti-tank company fields Spike anti-tank guided missile systems.