by Giacomo Fatuzzo
The story of Italy's 3rd Alpine Division Julia in the war against Greece in 1940 has only been told in a piecemeal fashion, from personal recollections of those who much later narrated their experiences. Usually these stories are about the first phase of the campaign, which was a war of movement and winning; while the second phase, substantially a war of position ending in defeat and death, is ignored or barely touched on. However, in his book The Death of the 'Julia" Division, General Giacomo Fatuzzo (Ret. and now deceased) fills in the gaps in his own moving true story.
In this book, which is based on his actual war diary, General Fatuzzo (then a Major in the Italian Army) provides an emotional, first-hand, day-by-day description of the difficulties encountered, the suffering endured, and the battles fought by the Italian alpine troops of the Julia Division. On the one hand, these pages are compelling because they present a quick and concise narrative of actual experiences and feeling, not a cold accounting of strategies and troop movements. On the other hand, they are riveting because they tell a timeless story of war - the agony of an officer who doesn't believe the war he is fighting is justified and who knows that his superior offices are making poor decisions from a remote location; the struggles of soldiers who do their best in impossible situations and suffer tremendously.
December 29, 1940. The last diary entry but not the end of the story or the book. Fatuzzo was seriously wounded on December 30 and evacuated in painful stages from the battlefield back to Italy. Thus he lived while most who served with and around him in the Julia Division stayed and died - something he could never forget. In the last part of the book, Fatuzzo reconstructs his agonizing memories of those last few devastating days of defeat.