Sunday 8 September 2013

Italians in Russia: The Forgotten Army

Fellow blogger and wargamer Chris Stoesen from Wargamer's Odds and Ends has publised a few days ago a scenario book called "In the Name of Roma" covering in 30 scenarios and 6 campaigns the trip to hell of the 80º Infantry Roma Regiment of the Pasubio Division, part of the Italian Corps in Russia (CSIR).

So, what? Well, I've been following with growing interest Chris' progress of the booklet through his blogs posts but on Saturday night I had the opportunity to start reading the 200+ pages of the final work... and could not stop until finished. I was confronted by one of the most fascinating and dramatic  war stories that I've read since a long time ago: from the story of the first killed in action to the desperate fights in December 1941 surrounded by overwhelming Russian forces.

The background of the Italian involvement in the Eastern Front is the desire of Moussilini to have a share in the spoils of a sure victory against the Soviet Union in 1941. Without regards for the lack of training, supplies or material to sustain a likely long campaign, he organised and sent  a corps of over 59,000 men along with other allies of the German Army. Note that at its height there were close to 235,000 Italians fighting in the Eastern Front, of which over 65,000 were reported killed (including prisiones in Soviet camps) and many more thousands were reported MIAs.

Chris' book provides an excellent historical background to the campaigns played and shows that he has gone into a serious effort  to learn the situation and cirumstances of the Italian Army in the campaign, which is reflected in the largely detailed scenarios written.

A large number of contemporary and modern documents in Italian language were used for that purpose. In my view this has been a very wise idea of the author, considering the general lack of knowledge about this army and war theater specially among non-Italian (...not to say anglo-saxon) speaker, and an element of additional attraction of this book.

Only for the historical information, the bibliographic apendix and the rich detail about the Italian and Russian armies involved, OOBs, weapons tables, etc,  would only justified  acquiring a copy of In the Name of Rome.

But the second attraction is the six campaigns and the thirty scenarios themeselves, extending between August to December 1941 all extremely well researched on the basis of contemporary cartographic material and solid use of sources. You can download a sample scenario here.

The book is written to play at company level with I Ain't Been Shot Mum but can be easily adapted to any other set of rules at that game scale. Interestingly, Chris has also included some notes to scale down the games to play with Chain of Command , the recently released platoon level rules also from TooFatLardies.

Summarising, an excellent work worth having even of you are not planning to play this less known corner of the II World War. 5 out of 5 stars rating!  

 I also strongly reccomend reading  Ray's blog comments on In the Name of Roma at  Don't Throw a 1  


  1. Its a great read sure enough, full of great unknown (to me!) info. I'd advise anyone interested in WW2 to pop over and buy it.

    1. I must blame you and your review mainly for buying a copy... and I don't regret at all!

      Now having second thouhgts about painting Italians and Russians in 28mm and play with CoC

  2. Looks quite interesting. Thanks for the heads up!

    Cheers, SG

  3. Great, I've only just painted up figures for the Pasubio Division. I must buy a copy of that book (once I get paid).


  4. I can only agree, it's a great read. I bought it the other day, and it's really good.

  5. An interesting adventure. It´s time to look at that book...