THE ITALIAN FASCIST YOUTH - (G.I.L.) PRE-AVIERI
The Fascist Youth was called "Gioventu Italiana Del'Littorio" meaning The Fascists Youth of the Lictors. The Lictor is the Fascist bundle of rods with the protruding axe blade, which was the symbol carried in ancient Rome by the Magistrates to demonstrate their power of life and death in the courts. The Fascist Youth organization ran from age 1 to age 18 and was divided into the following groups:
Children of the wolf - Birth to age 8
Balilla - From age 8 to age 11
Balilla Musketeers - From age 11 to 14
Vanguard - From age 14 to 16
Vanguard Musketeers - From age 16 to 18
There was also a Fascist organization for girls called the "Fascio Femminile". It also ran from birth to 18 but was divided into only 3 groups.
The Fascist Youth was organized just months after Mussolini's march on Rome in October 1922 with the first group of boys ranging from ages 8 to 14. They were called "Balilla" after the name of a young heroic boy in Genova, Italy. During the Austrian occupation of the city, in 1746, he incited a riot against the invading troops by hurling the first stone at a rolling field cannon. Eventually a huge riot and mass uprising led to the Austrians withdrawing from the city. Mussolini decided that this young boy's act of courage was the proper name to give encouragement, morale and the will to have the Nationalistic pride for the children of the time to be the best they could be.
The Pre-Avieri was for boys of the Vanguard - thus, the training in this field started at age 14 and continued to age 18. Pre-Avieri means "Pre-Airmen". When one went into the Fascist Youth, he could sign up for training and instruction to eventually go into the air force. If the child chose the Navy, he was called "Pre-Marinari". There was also an alpine training course, "Reparti Alpini", and other specialties of training for the youth. He was brought up with religious, military, para-military and academic training. He also had to take part in after school activities and had to be in top physical shape at all times. He had to be off the street and avoid delinquency. Love and respect of God, his country, his King and Queen, Il Duce, his parents, all authority, especially the police, was required. He had to go to school six days a week and religious and military training on the weekends. Military training at various camps was required during the summer and school vacations. The Italian flag and uniform were sacred for every youngster.
At the age of 18, males were either conscripted into the Royal Army or they volunteered for the Black Shirts (The Militia), the Navy or the Air Force. You either served willingly in one of these services or were drafted into the Army. There were no exceptions.
- Information courtesy of Rudy D'Angelo