Historic Museum of the Brigata Sassari: a precious historic treasure in the heart of Sassari
A distinguished history, more than a century long, the one of the Brigata Sassari, made not only of military campaigns and victories in battle, but also of antiques and culture. Actually, "La Marmora" barracks is located where once stood the ancient Aragonese Castle, demolished at the end of the 19th century.
The Brigata was founded in 1915 as a Mobile Militia recruited on a regional basis and made up of two Regiments: the 151° at Sinnai and the 152° at Tempio Pausania.
It already distinguished itself the following year on the Asiago Plateau, receiving its first gold medal for its successes in battle. As an example of self-sacrifice, pride and courage, the Brigade was included among the units of the permanent army for the value shown during the operations of the First World War.
During this conflict Sardinia paid a very high blood tribute: about 13,000 were in fact the fallen, 3,800 of which belonged to the Sassari Brigade alone.
Following the momentary dissolution at the end of the Second World War, the Brigata was reconstituted in 1988 with the union of the two historical units previously refounded in Sassari and Trieste.
The “Red Devils”
The Historical Museum of the Brigata Sassari was inaugurated inside the barracks in the 90s with the academic contribution of the University of Sassari. Today it is one of the most visited attractions in the city and in 2004 it was included among the museum institutions of the Italian Armed Forces.
The exhibition represents the central element for the custody of the history, values and memories of the prestigious combat unit. In fact, the route accompanies the visitor to the discovery of those “Red Devils” who made the Brigade immortal.
Why Red Devils?
This curious name was originally born from the German "Roten Teufel" (in Sardinian “Dimonios”), attributed by Austro-Hungarian enemies to the unexpected Sardinian soldiers. Captain Don Romeo Mezzanotte, inside his collection of memoirs "Nella fornace ardente", explains why they were so much out of character:
"I saw the Brigata Sassari descend to Aquileia, now almost legendary for the value of its soldiers, and I felt, at first sight, a great disappointment.
I was expecting to see lions with their thick cloaks, spiralling flames and fire, but instead I saw poor soldiers parading in front of me like so many others, darker and thinner, and with the same resigned air, which struck me in full".
Despite the description, this epithet suggests the fear of the Austro-Hungarians in having to deal with the soldiers of the brigade because of their enthusiasm during the fighting. The adjective "red" refers, together with white, to the colours of their uniform badges.
The museum: a journey along the paths of history
Along the five rooms of the museum, articulated in different sections and divided into thematic areas, visitors can see the life at the frontline of the First World War and the courage shown by "sos mannos" (the big ones), as they are remembered by the actual soldiers of the Brigata Sassari.
Men who until that moment had lived their lives within the borders of Sardinia, devoting themselves mainly to agriculture and farming. When called to arms, they had to abandon their daily life to go to the front and defend the territories of northern Italy from the Austro-Hungarian advance.
Among the rooms of the exhibition, the collection of vintage uniforms and weapons leads the visitor to the discovery of the military experience. It is also possible to see the reproduction of a trench which, together with the rich photographic exhibition, with its important historical and human value, immortalizes the hard life there, made of moments of struggle, suffering and tension but also of gathering and sharing.
From the documents and attestations emerges once again the value of the “Sassarini”, as the figures of Corporal Major Raimondo Scintu and Major Giuseppe Musino testify. The former was the protagonist of a heroic action during a moment of discouragement in the battle of Bainsizza, going alone into the enemy trench; the latter led the last Italian Battalion beyond the Piave River leading his troops across the Priula bridge, the last one remaining intact under the blows of the enemy.