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Giuseppe Tellera
Born (1882-03-14)March 14, 1882
Died 7 February 1941(1941-02-07) (aged 58)
Place of birth Bologna, Italy
Allegiance  Kingdom of Italy
Service/branch  Royal Italian Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands held Tenth Army (Italy)
Battles/wars World War II
North African Campaign
Awards Gold Medal of Military Valor

Giuseppe Tellera (March 14, 1882, Bologna – February 7, 1941) was a General in the Italian Army during World War II.

Italian Tenth Army

General Tellera took over the command of the Italian Tenth Army, which at the beginning comprised four Corps on December 23, 1940 from Lt.Gen Mario Berti, after having been Chief of Staff under General Balbo and Graziani. He was an experienced staff officer who had served in the Italian North Africa since 1938. The Tenth army had its headquarter at Bardia in Libya, and was formed by the 10th and 12th Bersaglieri Regiments, 12th, 26th and 55th Artillery Regiments, Machinegun battalions (detached from 55th Savona, 17th Pavia, 27th Brescia and 27th Bologna Divisions), the partially motorized and lightly armoured Babini Brigade consisted of 57 M13s, there Bersaglieri’s Bns, one Motorcycle Bn, an Artillery Regt, two Antitank Companies, an Engineers Company and Supply units.

Operation Compass

On 8 December 1940, British General Richard O'Connor launched Operation Compass. Although the Italian forces had supremacy in numbers, the Italian army had more tanks and human resources than the British, it was the quality of the Italian weapons that was questionable. In addition the troops were almost all infantry, and poorly motorized, a real handicap in a war of movement.

Tellera rode into battle in an Fiat-Ansaldo M13 tank during the furious but ultimately unsuccessful three-day battle to break through the British roadblocks at Beda Fomm, which prevented the Tenth Army's further retreat and led to its ultimate surrender. The battle was characterized by repeated - though poorly-coordinated - frontal attacks by the Italian armour, and during one of these Tellera's vehicle was disabled, and the General mortally wounded. He was found inside the tank by the British after the battle ended, and died in the hospital the following day.[1]

Struck by his heroic resistance, the British army buried him with military honors in Benghazi.[2]

Awards and Honours

For his gallantry in action Lt.Gen Tellera was posthumously awarded with the Gold Medal of Military Valor, the highest military decoration in the Italian Army. The award citation read as follow:

“Chief of staff of the Armed Forces North Africa, with organized and active perception, especially in the period that led to the victory of our arms Sidi El Barrani. He took over, in a particularly critical situation, the command of an Army Corps, kept during the forced withdrawal from Cyrenaica Gebel, more serene calm, giving evidence of high-capacity light control and eminent personal worth. In the battle of South Bengasino when the enemy had made impossible the withdrawal of our troops on Agedabia, stopped in a two days fighting, the vehemence of the opponent, and inflict heavy losses, forcing it to desist from its push into Sirtica. Gather the troops remaining in extreme defense in a place of particular importance, he tried repeatedly, with great personal risk, to collect the last means to break through and break the enemy encirclement. In this supreme and heroic effort, fell gloriously on the field, properly sealing a life of dedication to the entire country”. Sidi El Barrani (AS), September 1940-Agedabia, February 6, 1941.


  1. Yaklich, Michael F.. The Second World War - A Day by Day Account. 
  • Macksey, Major Kenneth (1971). Beda Fomm: Classic Victory. Ballentine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century, Battle Book Number 22. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-02434-6.
  • Angelo Dal Boca, “La tragica fine della X armata e del suo comandante”. The tragic end of the tenth Army, and its comandant .
  • Letter from Libya /Lettera dalla Libia del generale Tellera, in “I sentieri della ricerca. Rivista di storia contemporanea” 3 (2006), 73-90.

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