The "Sassari" brigade between history, legends and anecdotes

(To Nicolò Manca)

In the usual melancholy rearrangement of the correspondence of the past year, the eye fell on the file "Narrative of the Sassari Brigade", published last June by his friend Carlo Delfino.

The historical notes on Sassari they are intertwined with legends, such as the popular vulgate which attributes to four unlikely "Great victories reported by the Sardinians over the Arabs" the four Moors who appear in the Brigade's coat of arms. In reality, the four blindfolded Moors were born from as many victories of the Aragonese of Peter 1st over the Arabs, dating back to 1096 in the land of Spain, in Alcoraz. One wonders, given that this symbol is a legacy of four centuries of Spanish domination, what awaits the Sardinian authority which has the right to replace it with four nuraghi or other symbols that do not emphasize a historical period of which the Sardinians do not they have reason to be proud. Similarly, it would be necessary to dispel the fantasy that the Sassari formed following a fight in Genoa between some Sardinian soldiers and a group of local youth. Instead, it was a source of satisfaction to read the notation on the page dedicated to the hymn of the brigade "Text and music by col. Luciano Sechi ", clarification too often omitted or mutilated.

In the meager recent history of the brigade, the decision to dissolve the brigade would have deserved a mention, if only to keep one's guard up in the face of new attempts. Sassari (just six years after its reconstitution) adopted by the EMS in the summer of '94, a project that would have come to fruition if ... if instead of Giovanni Loddo's insubordinate nephew there had been a more disciplined peer. In which case the Sassari it would disappear into the folds of history. How things went instead is testified by some images shown in the 1995 brigade calendar. They are images of some interest for the thousands of Sardinians who today serve in the Sassari rather than in other units located in the Peninsula.

In a photograph dated May 27, 1994, a Gianfranco Fini (in the pre-judicial vicissitudes version) and myself (as a guide) during a visit by the Honorable Member to the museum of the brigade. In another, dated 7 June 1994, the Minister of Defense Cesare Previti is immortalized in the officers' circle of the 152nd regiment. They are emblematic photos of the epilogue of the affair that began two months earlier with a directive signed by the commander of the Sardinia Region, General Duilio Mambrini, which specified the procedures and times for the dissolution of the Sassari, of which only two pawns would have survived to pass directly under the command of the Region and the other of the "Granaders of Sardinia".

The letter, which referred to decisions already taken and a process already started, he concluded by recommending "Not to fight unnecessary rearguard battles aimed at delaying or hindering the implementation of the measure". In the margin of that sheet I wrote down "In the days of Caporetto the then major Musinu, commander of the 152nd battalion of the XNUMXnd, taught us that it is precisely the rearguard battles that become vital when most of them give up fighting". Besides, order me to be the liquidator of the Sassari it was a gesture of gross insensitivity and almost offensive towards a Sardinian officer whose maternal grandfather, the aforementioned Giovanni Loddo, enlisted after the defeat of Caporetto despite being already the father of a family, fell on the Piave in '18, two years after the sacrifice of the younger brother Francesco, who fell in Monte Zebio on the same day that the commander of the brigade Eugenio Di Maria fell. It was June 27, 1916.

I told the commander of the Region that in the event of dissolution of the brigade I would expect to be replaced in the command in advance. Since I had no answer, I took note of the fact that war was wanted from me, rearguard or otherwise, and it was war. And since time was running out, I undertook to ally myself immediately with the mayor of Sassari, Nanni Campus, who just as promptly dragged Gianfranco Fini, his party mate, to Sassari, who in turn brought the then Minister of Defense to Sardinia within a few days. Cesare Previti.

Years later I would have reported in the book "From Calamosca to Calamosca - Looking for an army" the details and the epilogue of the story, including the threat (joking but not too much: "Missing, let's do the math with you later!") that the head of SME Incisa di Camerana directed me to the officers' circle of the 152nd, when it became clear that I was the insubordinate person in charge of the counter-order given him by the minister shortly before: "General, let's keep Sassari and close another brigade", And the cleaver fell on the brigade"Cremona”, The one of which Incisa di Camerana had been commander ... and I vice-commander! With these reminiscences I do not intend to emulate Erasmus of Rotterdam by weaving a praise of disobedience but it is certain that if in my place there had been a commander more respectful of military discipline, of the brigade Sassari there would be only history and a few legends ... and the anthem Dimonios he would never be born.

Even the birth of Dimonios it deserves to enter, in the form of an anecdote, the recent history of the brigade. For this purpose it would be significant to cite the reconstruction, also joking but not too much, that the author himself made of it in his "Damnatio memoriae - Genesis, life, vicissitudes and pains of a hymn”, Also published this year in the past year. It is worth mentioning some passages:

I remember as if it were yesterday that morning at the end of September 1994 in the courtyard of the “Bechi-Luserna” barracks in Macomer, headquarters of the 45th “Reggio” regiment. ... Arrived on a visit, his first visit to the department, the gen. Nicolò Manca from Ortueri c.te of the Sassari brigade indeed ... first Sardinian c.te of the "Sassari" ... After the greetings and formalities, always in the courtyard he said to me "Do you know that the brigade does not have an anthem?" I replied “Yes ... Mr. general "and inside me I thought" But what do I have to do with it ". He continued: "I expect an idea from you ... a composition ... something ... and quickly." This approach to the bersagliera stunned me. I did not know in the least that the gen. he was already on the move asking the departments if there was anyone able to musically express something ... Invent a hymn for the "Sassari" brigade, a feat that would have made even a real musician shake the wrists ... For a couple of days I no longer thought about that request, so much so that I thought that by now for the gen. it was already gone from mind. No more than seven days had passed and the phone rings. I respond with a "Hello". On the other side just a word ... terrifying for me: "Missing", so it appeared ... "So ... are you working?" In an instant I remembered everything ... he hadn't forgotten! I mumbled something. "I'll be waiting for you in Sassari in a week ... so you make me feel what you've done" I didn't know how to get out ... With two lines and the rhythm in my mind I introduced myself to gen It lacks. It was an afternoon. He read the words ... felt the rhythm and said "Do you know I like it?" I breathed a sigh of relief ... After a week I returned, I remember it as if it were yesterday. In the courtyard where the flag raising took place in addition to the gen. Missing I found Andrea Alciator and his company ... all ready to sing Dimonios for the first time ... The gen. Manca has a leaflet printed by the Chiarella typography of Sassari showing both the text (two stanzas) and the score.

Since the two stanzas turned out to be short-lived and did not refer to the Sassari from the Second World War to the present day, in later times I urged Luciano Sechi to complete the work, which he did in 1996 composing the third and fourth verses.

Scrolling through the dossier, the long list of those who have devoted attention, writings and energies to Sassari: thirty names including Antonio Pinna, who nevertheless would have deserved a special emphasis, because among the thirty names he is the one who actually has "product"And continues to produce more, as the architect of achievements such as the creation of the museum of the brigade in Sassari (and other sister museums), the recovery in 1995 of the "Monument to the Sassari brigade"Of Baddimanna, inaugurated by President Pertini on 1 June 1982 and then left in a decaying condition (degradation in which, alas, it plunged back into the years of the new millennium). Antonio Pinna is still today the deus ex machina, with the support of the engineer Antonio Quartu, of Armungia as Emilio Lussu, of the recovery of the entrenchments of the Sassari on the Asiago plateau and the two war cemeteries of the Sassari up to Monte Zebio. For this commitment Antonio Pinna is esteemed by popular acclaim by the people of the plateau, who for years have considered him the most solid link between Asiago and the Sassari.

Finally, it escaped adding to the thirty names mentioned that of Paolo Vacca, an ANSA journalist who has always been considered in effective permanent service to the Sassari. Paolo Vacca in fact, in addition to having written with Francesco Fatutta the book "The forgotten war of the Sassari brigade", He created and edited the online newspaper as editor in chiefWith the Sassari brigade". It is right and proper that he should acknowledge this passionate supporter of the brigade.

In this troubled end of the year 2020, we wish everyone better times Sassarini from the commander to the last arrived ... e long live the Sassari!

Photo: Italian Army / Author