Corps of the Royal Guardia di Finanza in the First and Second World Wars
The Guardia di Finanza strongly contributed to the First World War, as the Corps participated with 18 detached battalions and the navy, which made the difference in several occasions.
After the heroic battles between the 21 June and 5 July 1918 in Albania, in the Venetian Region, on the Mali Viluscia Mountain and across the River Piave, the anniversary of the foundation of the Guardia di Finanza (which had always been on 5th July until 1965) was and is celebrated on 21st June.
In the 1920s, the structure of the Corps was influenced by national tax system reforms: the tax investigation police was created in 1923 as a Special Unit of the Royal Guardia di Finanza to prevent and repress smuggling and other kinds of frauds, to combat tax evasion and the organized crime.
The automotive service of the Royal Guardia di Finanza was established with the Royal Decree of the Ministry of Finance of 15 May 1935, although vehicles were already part of the Corps since the beginning of the 20th Century.
In 1935 - 1936, the Guardia di Finanza took part in the Italian – Ethiopian war with the special battalion “E”, which became the first structure of the institutional service in East Africa.
During the Second World War, the Corps employed 18 battalions, along with border and coast departments, Units in Libya, East Africa, Albania, and across the Aegean Sea. More than 150 naval units were involved to support the National Navy across the Mediterranean Sea: here the soldiers of the Guardia di Finanza proved their noble traditions of value and loyalty.
On the national territory, the units of the Corps (which carried out their institutional service according to international regulations and the Italian Law of Warfare) joined the Resistance to Nazifascism and the partisan struggle. Meanwhile, a battalion contributed to the liberation of Rome, together with the fifth American Army departments, led by the General Clark.
Furthermore, the Guardia di Finanza Units and the individual soldiers played an important role in combating the Hebraic persecution, they helped many refugees to move illegally to Switzerland, hiding them in barracks or private houses. This important action was the expression of bravery and human solidarity, and for this reason it was awarded several Medals of civil Merit and five Medals “Righteous among the Nations”, in memory of Guardia di Finanza members since the 2008.
In the Venezia Giulia, in addition to the military operations carried out by individual soldiers and by Guardia di Finanza departments, it is worth mentioning humanitarian activities between 1943 and 1945, Guardia di Finanza members helped the local population to save their corporate assets and properties.
Moreover, they assisted the refugees in Venezia Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia from the end of the war until 1954, when the issues of the “free territory of Trieste” was closed.
After the Armistice of 8th September 1943, and the conquest of most of the territory by the Yugoslavian partisans in May 1945, many Guardia di Finanza soldiers died. Most of them fell victims to the “Foibe”, while fighting for the liberation, supporting the National Committee of Freedom.