The Moschetti for the Duke of Aosta A lecture given by Roberto CengarleTo the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association At the Imperial War Museum, London 19 Sept 2011
The” Moschetti per il Duca D’Aosta” are carbines Model 1891 Carcano , especially made forthe personal guards of Amedeo the second of Savoy , the Third Duke of Aosta.
Amedeo II di Savoia , III duke of Aosta was born in Turin in 1898 .He had a very interestinglife and military carrier prior to the death of his father . When Emanuele Filiberto died onthe 4th of July 1931 he inherited the title of Duke of Aosta. In December 1937 he wasnominated Viceroy of Ethiopia .The Viceroy s Ethiopia was the representative of the king of Italy, Emperor of Ethiopiafrom1939 also king of Albania. In addition he was also governor of the Italian East Africa .Resided in Addis Ababa .
The Duke of Aosta with King Vittorio Emanuele III
On June the 10th 1940 he stands at the head of his men in East Africa and manages to winthe British Somaliland.The Allied counter attack in 1941 pushed his troops back to Amba Alagi.At 3 p.m. on 17 May the Duke of Aosta radioed to Rome, informing them that Amba Alagiwas completely covered by fire of rebel formations organized by the British and by Nativenon-commissioned officer deserters from the Italian forces, and that the fortress was beingviolently bombarded day and night by numerous guns. It was the general conviction that itwould be useless to continue the struggle. The impossibility of recovering the wounded wasaggravating moral depression. Any attack by the rebels preceded by a heavy bombardmentand regular support would demand a great price in blood, and could only protract resistancefor some days if not only for hours. Having obtained agreement to the honours of war andwith the troops at the ultimate limit of their resistance, he therefore was acceptingconditions of surrender. On a note of despair, his message ended: “ I meet my destinycomforted in the knowledge of having fulfilled my duty. Amedeo di Savoia.”
Some of the hundreds of Italian vehicles abandoned on the road to Amba Alagi.
The hero of Amba Alagi - “We Shall Return!”As a Prisoner of War, together with his soldiers, he was sent to prison camp in Nairobiwhere in late 1941 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.Amedeo di Savoia , Duke of Aosta died in prison in Nairobi on the 3 rd of March 1942 aged 44
A battery of South African 4.5-inch howitzers of 4th Field Brigade, S.A.A. comes into actionat Amba Alagi.
Accounts of the Allied campaign in the region can be found athttp://samilitaryhistory.org/vol084im.htmlhttp://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/SouthAfrica/EAfrica/EAfrica-22.htmlSouth African infantry make use of a cactus hedge for cover during the final phase of theBattle of Combolcia.
The Moschetti per il Duca D’Aosta were produced by Beretta in 1939 and have a serialnumber from C8000 to C8100 meaning that only 100 of them were made.These carbines have a walnut stock with gold plated receivers engraved by Calderoni inMilan with floral designs. The bolt is nickel plated .
The trigger is gold plated. The magazine is polished and has geometric engravings The barrelis polished as well and the bayonet is nickel plated. The push button of the locking system ofthe bayonet is gold plated as well.
On the right hand side of the butt of the carbines there is a metal plaque with the letter Afor Aosta with flower decorations and the Duke Crown .There are two different types of this carbine , depending on the quantity and dimensions ofthe decorations .
What is known is that after the Commonwealth troops took over the horn of Africa in 1941 ,a lot of these carbines ended up in the winners hands. These carbines were sent back homeand many of them are now in museums of the Commonwealth. There is one in the RoyalArmouries in Leeds, 5 in museums in South Africa (not considering private collections inSouth Africa).One carbine is in the Beretta museum in Italy and few others in private collections inEurope.Of the original 100 made, the number of existing carbines known to collectors is about 40 ofwhich 4 or 5 are in Italy .