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Legione Redenta

Allied troops parading in Vladivostok, 1918. By September 1918, there were 70,000 Japanese, 1,400 Italian, 5,002 American, 829 British and 107 French troops in and around that city

The Legione Redenta was an Italian military formation that participated in the Siberian Intervention during the Russian Civil War. It was formed with 2500 prisoners of war who had been captured by the Russians from the Austro-Hungarian Army.

The Legion fought against Bolshevik forces in Siberia and Manchuria, and was instrumental in protecting the Transiberian Railway necessary for the Allied support to the White forces.[1]


  • History 1
  • Irregular Brigate Savoia 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • External links 6


With the Russian withdrawal from the war in 1918, German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners were allowed to return home as a result of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. Many of the Austro-Hungarian prisoners were of various nationalities reflecting the multi-ethnic composition of the empire.

A number of these prisoners were of Italian ethnicity, primarily from Trentino, Istria and Dalmatia (Italian nationalists considered these areas part of the Italia irredenta). The Italian government decided to form units from these prisoners (even because many of them declared to be Italian irredentists). They were allowed to fight for Italy and swore an oath to the King of Italy.[2]

They were placed in a special new military unit called "Legione Redenta": this name was related to the word "redenta" (Italian for "redeemed") as a reference to the fact that the soldiers were "redeemed" from Austrian control and now were Italian legionaries.

As a result, the "Legione Redenta" was created in the summer of 1918 in China and attached to the "Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Estremo Oriente" (Italian Expedition in the Far East). Initially they were stationed in the Italian Concession in Tientsin.[3] They were trained in Tientsin by Major Cosma Manera, an official of the Italian Carabinieri who chose the name "Redenta" for the unit.

The Italian legionaries played a small but important role during parts of Siberian Intervention, fighting alongside the Czechoslovak Legion.[4]

The main areas of operations were Irkutsk, Harbin and Vladivostok.[5]

The Legione Redenta fought until November 1919 when as part of the general Allied withdrawal from Russia, it returned to Italy, where it was welcomed with military honors.[6]

Irregular Brigate Savoia

The Italian legionaries were divided in 2 groups, one with black ribbons the other with red ribbons.

Those with the red ribbons were recruited initially by Andrea Compatangelo in an irregular Brigate Savoia and after heavy fighting, occupied the important railway hub of Krasnojarsk for nearly two months before reaching Tientsin in summer 1918.

They fought alongside the Czech legion and by using special armoured trains, reached the Italian concession in Tianjin, where they were officially made part of the Corpo di Spedizione Italiano.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Italian troops in Siberia and Manchuria (in Italian)
  2. ^ Prigionieri "irredenti" in Russia (in Italian)
  3. ^ Headquarters building of Italy in Tientsin
  4. ^ First World War - Willmott, H.P.; Dorling Kindersley, 2003, Page 251
  5. ^ A History of Russia, 7th Edition, Nicholas V. Riasanovsky & Mark D. Steinberg, Oxford University Press, 2005
  6. ^ La Legione Redenta del maggiore Cosma Manera (in Italian)
  7. ^ Compatangelo and his "Savoia" irregulars (in Italian)


  • Mautone, Antonio. Trentini ed Italiani contro l'Armata Rossa. La storia del Corpo di Spedizione in Estremo Oriente e dei Battaglioni Neri. Temi editrice. Trento, 2003
  • Rallo, Michele. L'intervento italiano nella prima guerra Mondiale e la Vittoria Mutilata. Settimo Sigillo. Torino, 2007.
  • Stevenson, David. World War First - A Global History. Rizzoli. Milano, 2004 ISBN 88-17-00437-5

External links

  • The Italian Redenta Legion of Major Cosma Manera (in Italian)
  • The Czech Legion
  • Antique Military Photography 1866-1925 (English)
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