By James I. Marino The most successful Italian Army of World War II was a political creation of dictator Benito Mussolini. Il Duce desired to participate in the fascist dream to eliminate Bolshevism. Although heavily engaged in North Africa, the Balkans, and East Africa, Mussolini forged an expeditionary force, sending the Italian army in Russia to fight alongside the Germans and other Axis satellite forces. This unit, the Corpo Spedzione Italiane in Russia (CSIR) became the most successful Italian army in the war. This army advanced the greatest distance, more than 1,100 kilometers, earned the most victories, and lost just two battles. But like many armies before it, the Italian force was swallowed up in the vast winter landscape of Russia and has been forgotten by history. (Read more about the forgotten events and battles that shaped the course of the Second World War inside WWII History magazine.)  Corpo Spedzione Italiane: An Offering to Hitler In May 1941, Mussolini, who always had keen political intuition, sensed that Hitler was about to launch an attack against the Soviet Union. Hitler never kept Mussolini abreast of the invasion plans. Yet on May 30, three weeks before the start of Operation Barbarossa, Mussolini told Army Chief of Staff General Carlo Cavallero: “We must assemble one new motorized division and a second one to be attached to the Grenadier Division near Zagreb.” As soon as Germany officially informed Mussolini of the invasion, Mussolini told h


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