Among all other users of the British WWII Battle Dress uniform set (such as the British Army, NZ, South African, Canadian, Polish, French, Greek, Belgian, Dutch formations), one was - if not strictly speaking an "allied" army - a "cobelligerant": the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) recognized as a "cobelligerant" force in october 1943 and reorganized and supplied with British equipment in october 1944. After the withdrawal of major Allied formations in the summer of 1944 for the operation Anvil/Dragon and of the whole 1st Canadian Corps in february 1945, an acute need for more troops was felt on the Italian front, in prevision of the spring offensive that would have put an end to the conflict in the Italian peninsula. Therefore six "Combat Groups" (Cremona., Folgore, Friuli, Legnano, Mantova, Piceno) were formed along the lines of the traditional WWII Italian "binary" infantry divisions (composed of two infantry brigades and one artillery brigade). Only four of them actually fought at the front, entering the line in february 1945: Cremona, Folgore, Friuli and Legnano. Whereas the first three "combat groups" where under command of the British Eight Army, the fourth Gruppo di Combattimento, namely Legnano, was part of the 5th US Army and as such took part in the last WWII battles fought in Italy. This War Aid US made Battle Dress blouse sports the insignia of an Italian 2nd Lieutenant acting as a liason officer with the 5th US Army HQ, hence the 5th Army device. His rank insignia, "stellette" to be worn on the shoulder straps, were introduced in february 1945, in discontinuity with the Royal Italian Army habit of wearing rank insignia on the cuffs of the tunic. The small hole in the shoulder strap was clearly left by a previous British officers pip: all the equipment and uniforms supplied to the Gruppi di Combattimento were second hand and well worn, not having (understandably!) the War Department much too spare for troops that only a year before were still fighting against Allied formations. Click image for larger version. 

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