To work with the Alpini partisans in the Belluno area of northeast Italy blocking communication between Germany and Italy.
Partisan units worked with:
October 13, 1944 Capt. Benucci, 1st Sgt. Cangelosi
and Sgt. Gianfriddo flew out of Brindisi airport at 1800 and in a few
hours reached DZ MARIO which was obscured by clouds. A hole was found
and the three jumped, Capt. Benucci and 1st Sgt. Cangelosi first and
Sgt. Gianfriddo with equipment on the second pass, landing around two
kilometers away from the others. Capt. Benucci wrenched a knee which
limited his activities for twelve days. They were met by a partisan
Commander called “Bert,” a partisan Justo Contori, battle
name “Satan,” and partisan Italo Como, battle name “Blondio,”
in whose house they slept that night. The following night, because they
were too close to the Germans, the 3-man unit moved into the mountains.
The zone became covered with snow, up to several feet and was frequently traversed by SS troops. Survival was a constant battle. In this period 360 men were caught and hanged by SS troops. On November 25 thirty partisans ambushed a convoy of 12 trucks along the Vittorio Veneto-Belluno Road killing 12 Germans and taking 8 prisoners. In January the remnants of the German 20th Infantry Division were pulled out of line and sent to organize the zone.
Jan. 12. A school house at Castion used as a German dormitory was mined and blown up, killing 50 Germans.
Jan. 27 The TODT at Longarone, the workers of which were working on the fortification of Longarone, were machine-gunned by the Brigade; 7 Nazis killed and 400 workers left the area never to return.
Feb. 10. Because Capt. Benucci was injured internally, 1st Sgt. Cangelosi led the Seventh Alpini in a harassing attack on the German garrison at Cirvoi causing about 20 casualties with no partisan loss.
Feb. 11. Sgt. Cangelosi with partisans attacked the garrison at Levego causing about 15 casualties. And destroying a truck. One wounded partisan.
Feb. 17. Brigade partisans blew the bridge at San Felice, the largest foot bridge crossing the Piave River. This forced troops, including the 20 German Division, to go 10 miles out of their way to cross the river on both sides of which companies were garrisoned.
March 6. The 20th Division was reorganized into the 26th Division and all elements, containing 3000 men, were sent out to comb the mountains for partisans. They were reinforced by 1000 SS troops.
As described in the TACOMA report, Captains Benucci and Chappell, conferring on plans throughout the night, found themselves surrounded by SS troops. Chappell’s daring escape is described in his TACOMA report. Capt. Benucci fired all his carbine ammunition, found a hole and concealed himself with snow, staying hidden till darkness when the enemy withdrew. Sgts. Gianfriddo and Cangelosi stayed in the Captain’s CP shack which strangely was not entered by the constantly passing Germans. Two partisan guides were killed.
March 7. 400 SS troops entered the 7th Alpine defense positions in the Val Morel. The partisans drew them into the valley, surrounded them and opened fire, killing 57, and wounding 30, with a loss of 4 partisans. The remainder of the enemy escaped by placing civilians between them. Subsequent enemy attacks were foiled by breaking the partisans into small groups and hiding. This went on till April when the Division was ordered south.
April 7. Ten ammo dumps left behind at CESA with a small guard by the Division were destroyed with 4 Nazis killed and 15 wounded.
April12. The bridge at Cicgonia was blown by the 7th Alpini cutting all road traffic from Belluno into the 7th Alpini zone.
Elements of SS and Wehrmach moved into the zone, garrisoning the principal towns on the south side of the Piave, totaling 1,000 troops, to guard routes of communication. The Brigade followed Capt. Benucci’s order to cut all telephone and telegraph lines, leaving the Nazis on both sides of the Piave without communication till the end.
Other zonal activities:
Piave Brigade. Capt. Benucci did not work directly with this brigade but issued directives. Commandante Mariotti Giovani; 350 men; good morale; sponsored by Democratic Christian Party. This brigade was located in the lowlands, below the pre-alps in the Conegliano area. Many fascist and German garrisons were in the area which limited military action initially. Intelligence reports covering fuel dumps, traffic, and anti-aircraft guns were invaluable for the aircorps. In early April the forces were mobilized and through the month convoys were machine-gunned and Garrisons harassed. When Capt. Benucci sent the all-out order to attack, they, with the Mazzini Brigade, attacked and took the city of Conegliano and followed with the taking of Tarzo, Nervesa, Santa Lucia, and Susegana. Their prisoners totalled over 2,000 and booty included weapons, ammunition, explosives and vehicles. (Summary of this operation not available.
Mazzini and Tollot Brigades:
Servicing was done by Capt. Benucci until Capt. Chappell arrived and took over. See TACOMA report.
This was handled by Captain Hall who was
later captured and killed by SS troops. It was serviced by Capt. Benucci’s
communications and followed his directives until late in April, when
Capt. Chappell, leaving Tollot and Mazzini Brigades under Capt. Benucci’s
direction, went into their zone.