14th Infantry Division 'Isonzo'
14a Divisione di fanteria "Isonzo"
Battle of Tanča Gora
On 22 September 1942, Črnomelj garrison - 23rd Infantry Regiment - formed transport column to evacuate one wounded border guard from Vinica to Črnomelj. Column was made of 7 motor vehicles, 45 soldiers and 2 officers+, commanded by 1st Lieutenant Andrea Abbiati. Distance of 19 kilometers was forested terrain and guard by infantry company with 120 soldiers under command of 1st Lieutenant Guiseppe Mariza. Column left Vinica at 8:15 and 15 minutes later near Tanča Gora run into 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Yugoslav Partisan 4th Kordun brigade which arrived from Žumberak to avoid large scale Axis anti-partisan operation and was just returning from failed night attack on Črnomelj. Soon joined by 2nd Battalion, Partisans overran most of the column which was joined by company tasked with guarding the road. Around 12:00 reinforcement from Črnomelj, around 80 soldiers, made of rear area personnel in Črnomelj, managed to break through to transport column after which Partisans begun to withdraw to avoid more powerful Italian units moving from Novo Mesto lead by division commander general Cerruti ending the battle around 19:00 in the evening. Reinforcement from Vinica, 50 soldiers strong were eliminated with Vinica garrison commander killed. These were not only heaviest casualties Isonzo division suffered in single day until that date but any Italian unit in Slovenia, Italian report listed following losses:
- killed: 4 officers, 54 soldiers
- wounded: 1 officers, 33 soldiers (two later died in hospital)
- missing: 24 soldiers
Partisans claimed 120 killed Italians including 7 officers, large number of wounded and 18 captured while suffering only 2 killed an 5 wounded. General Robotti report claims several hundred Partisans which couldn't be verified directly while Di Furia report doesn't even mentions any Partisan casualties.
Killed officers include captain Giovanni Mangioni, 1st Lieutenants Guiseppe Mariza and Giacomo Gabiusi, 2nd Lieutenant Armando Di Marchi, while 1st Lieutenant Andrea Abbiati was wounded.
For their courage despite being badly wounded from start Italian report praises Sergent Calabro and carabinieri from Vinica station which were on leave and joined column while returning to their unit: Carlo Sanguini, Peitro Oltolina, Pasquale Trotta.
Italian report list weapons lost 35 pistols, 41 rifles, 48 carbines, 3 light machine-guns, 6 machine-guns, 1 mortar 45mm, 6 trucks, 1 ambulance car, 1 motorcycle. Partisan report list 6 trucks and ambulance car destroyed and capturing 10 pistols, 68 rifles and carbines, 4 heavy machine-guns, 1 aircraft machine-gun, 3 light machine-guns, 1 light mortar with 19 mines, 52 hand grandees, 3290 machine-gun rounds, 500 light machine-gun rounds, 1500 rifle rounds, 100 rounds for pistols, 2 motorcycles, one theodolite (!), calculating machine, 7930 Lira and various other equipment.
During July 1943 division carries out anti-partisan sweeps. On 4 August sweeps region of Ajdovac.
Capitulation of Italy caught division on occupation duty in Slovenia. Yugoslav Partisans quickly moved in to disarm Italian units in its area. Isonzo division soon found itself surrounded in Novo Mesto while negotiations were being carried out, roads towards Rijeka was blocked by Partisans while roads through Ljubljana by Germans. In the evening of September 11, division begun to move towards Straža hoping to go through Kočevje to reach Rijeka. At Straža, collaborations White Guard left Italian column fearing Italian surrender to Partisans escaping through Gorjance towards Germans.
In front of Kočevje, on September 11 at 11:30 general Guido Cerruti ordered division to surrender, turn over their weapons and equipment to the Partisans after which they could continue towards the sea. General Cerruti joined Partisans.
Order of battle
- Staff - Novo Mesto
- 98th CCNN Legion - Trebnje, Mokronog
- general Cerruti
- Alessandro Maccari
- Chief of Staff
- Regimental 81mm mortar company commander
- 1st Lieutenant Guiseppe Mariza
- Carabinieri commander
- Captain Fernando Di Furia
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