Italian Libyan Colonial Division

The Libyan Division was a formation of colonial troops raised by the Italians in their colony in Libya. It participated in the invasion of Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The formation was reorganized into the 1 Libyan Infantry Division Sibelle by the beginning of Italy's entry into World War II. In September 1940, the 1st Libyan Division participated in the Italian invasion of Egypt. By December, the division was dug in at Maktila and was forced to surrender during Operation Compass.


Following the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12, Italy occupied the coastal zones of the twin provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, constituting modern Libya. The Italians continued to face very strong opposition from the Senussi, especially in Cyrenaica. From the beginning the Italian Army made use of the former Turkish organised Arab gendarmerie as auxiliaries, augmenting them with regular colonial units recruited amongst the indigenous peoples of Libya. By 1913 these comprised seven battalions of infantry, three squadrons of savari cavalry, one squadron of meharistes (camel troops), a mountain artillery battery and a section of camel artillery.[1]

By the 1930s the Libyan units had been brought together into the "Royal Corps of Libyan Troops" comprising infantry, cavalry, artillery, motorised troops and support services. A battalion of Libyan parachutists was raised shortly before World War II, the first force of this kind to be created in Africa. Libyans also served in zaptie (carabinieri), Sahariani (desert troops) and spahi (irregular cavalry) units

Order of Battle 3 October 1935

Libyan Division - Guglielmo Nasi

Order of Battle 10 June 1940

1 Libyan Division - General Luigi Sibelle


  1. "Le Uniformi Coloniali Libiche 1912-42" Piero Crociani 1980
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