Ettore Bastico Edit Profile
When he came of age, Bastico joined the Italian Army and fought in World War I. In 1928, Bastico was promoted to brigadier (generale di brigata). At that time, the Kingdom of Italy was ruled by dictator Benito Mussolini.
He fought the Turks in 1911-12 before serving in the First World War in Ethiopia, and in Spain. A close friend of Mussolini’s, the hard-nosed little general suddenly succeeded the easygoing Gariboldi on 12 July 1941 in Libya as governor and CinC. Determined to assert his authority, he immediately clashed with ROMMEL over the strategy for retaking Tobruk. This led to open hostility, German officers finding the Italian “difficult, autocratic and violent”, and Rommel nicknaming him “Bombastico.” Rommel won out by getting Mussolini’s authority to deal directly with the Commando Supremo in Rome, which cut Bas- tico out of the chain of command. On 19 July 1941, Bastico was named commander over all Axis forces in North Africa; however, his command went largely unrecognized by the Germans and especially General Erwin Rommel.
Bastico was promoted to Marshal of Italy (Maresciallo d'Italia) on 12 August 1942, largely to avoid him being junior in rank to Rommel.When Libya was lost to the Eighth Army's advance, since 2 February 1943 he was left without a command for the rest of the war.
Bastico died in Rome at 96, after spending his last years studying history. At the time of his death, he was the last living Italian military officer to have held an Italian five-star-rank in an active capacity. (Umberto II, the last King of Italy, was appointed a marshal of Italy in a ceremonial capacity; he died in 1983).