immagini del comandante Saccardo in missione (g.c. Giovanni Pinna)
Il quinto giorno alla
deriva, i superstiti avvistarono un piroscafo all’orizzonte, ma i tentativi di
attirarne l’attenzione non ebbero alcun risultato. Il settimo giorno venne
avvistato un altro piroscafo, che passò a circa 1200 metri di distanza, alla
velocità di circa dieci nodi: il comandante Saccardo, che riteneva il piroscafo
argentino, si trasferì sulla zattera che aveva sei uomini a bordo, prese in
prestito due remi dalla prima zattera e cercò di raggiungere la nave,
promettendo di tornare indietro a prendere gli altri dodici se fosse riuscito a
raggiungere la nave. Ma del comandante Saccardo e dei suoi sei compagni non si
seppe più nulla. Lo Coco ritenne che non fossero riusciti a raggiungere il
Anche in questo caso,
la versione data negli Stati Uniti nel 1943 (e sopra riportata) fu
sensibilmente differente da quella data in Italia nel 1946: in quest’ultima,
infatti, Lo Coco disse che i due canotti avevano navigato insieme per venti
giorni, poi, intorno alle 13 del ventesimo giorno, era stato avvistato un
piroscafo a circa tre miglia di distanza, e l’altro canotto con nove naufraghi
si era diretto con decisione verso la nave, sperando di riuscire a farsi
avvistare e salvare, ma Lo Coco e gli altri sul suo battellino notarono che il
mercantile proseguiva per la sua rotta, allontanandosi velocemente e sparendo
alla vista, ed il canotto che gli aveva mosso incontro svanì all’orizzonte: dei
nove uomini in esso non si ebbero più notizie.
La zattera di Lo Coco
continuò ad andare alla deriva, ed i sopravvissuti, uno dopo l’altro, morirono
per le ferite, per le ustioni, di fame, di sete, o per aver bevuto troppa acqua
di mare. Solo un occasionale e breve rovescio interruppe l’intenso, tremendo
caldo del giorno. Il ventunesimo giorno di deriva morirono due uomini. Il
giorno seguente, altri tre, poi, il ventiquattresimo giorno, altri due. Il
comandante in seconda Suriano morì due o tre giorni prima che la zattera
giungesse a riva, e prima di spirare assicurò a Lo Coco che lui sarebbe stato
l’unico sopravvissuto. Lo Coco gettò i cadaveri in mare. Rimasero così solo in
due: Lo Coco ed il sergente silurista Aldo Santolamazza (Lo Coco parlò del
“sottocapo La Mazza Santo”, ma non vi era nessuno con questo nome tra
l’equipaggio dell’Archimede, e Santo
La Mazza appare una evidente distorsione del cognome Santolamazza, che è
l’unico nome, nella lista dell’equipaggio dell’Archimede, riconducibile a “Santo La Mazza”), entrambi distesi sul
fondo della zattera, ormai privi di sensi e di forze.
Secondo quanto Lo
Coco raccontò in America nel 1943, durante il ventottesimo giorno alla deriva,
la zattera si capovolse e gettò Lo Coco in mare, ma l’onda successiva raddrizzò
nuovamente la zattera e lo gettò nuovamente a bordo. Questo gli fece ricordare
ciò che Suriano gli aveva detto prima di morire. Il ventinovesimo giorno dopo
l’affondamento, secondo le informazioni di base del rapporto dell’US Navy, il
battellino venne portato dalle onde a riva sull’isola di Bailique, vicino alla
costa occidentale del Rio delle Amazzoni. Secondo quanto riferito da Lo Coco
nel 1946, invece, al ventiseiesimo giorno di deriva il battellino venne trovato
da pescatori brasiliani, che portarono il superstite nell’isola di San Paolo.
In realtà, la zattera venne trovata l’8 maggio 1943, dunque ventitrè giorni
dopo l’affondamento. Lo Coco venne trovato indebolito ed in delirio da due
pescatori brasiliani, che lo portarono nella vicina isola di Brigue; solo dopo
quattro giorni Lo Coco riprese conoscenza sull’isola dov’era stato portato, e
si riprese abbastanza perché si scoprisse che era un italiano, membro dell’equipaggio
dell’Archimede. All’interno del
canotto i pescatori avevano trovato anche il cadavere di Santolamazza, che
venne sepolto nel cimitero di San Paolo, come fu detto a Lo Coco quando si fu
ripreso. (Per altra fonte, invece, oltre a Lo Coco i pescatori brasiliani
trovarono nel canotto due cadaveri, e non uno). Il battellino era andato alla
deriva per 1400 miglia.
Esiste anche una
terza versione, secondo cui 42 uomini dell’equipaggio affondarono con l’Archimede, mentre 25 furono
sbalzati in mare e salirono su tre canotti lanciati da Catalina ma sprovvisti
di scorte di viveri; nei quindici giorni successivi, durante cui non furono
viste navi né aerei, 6 uomini morirono di fame e di sete, poi uno dei
canottini, con Saccardo ed altri sei uomini, scomparve il 1º maggio nel
tentativo di raggiungere una nave avvistata in lontananza per fare segnali e
farsi notare, ed un altro battellino, con 6 uomini, sparì due o tre giorni
dopo; l’ultimo rimasto, con 6 uomini, fu trovato da barche da pesca brasiliane
l’8 maggio 1943 nei pressi di Fernando de Noronha, 27 giorni dopo
l’affondamento, con un solo superstite, Lo Coco, ormai già quasi moribondo.
Questa versione non trova però riscontro in quanto riferito da Lo Coco.
In ogni caso, la
presenza di Lo Coco venne comunicata alle autorità della Marina brasiliana a
Belem, e, essendo il Brasile in guerra contro l’Italia, Lo Coco, ora
prigioniero (era stato preso in custodia dalla polizia di Brigue), venne
imbarcato su una cannoniera brasiliana che lo portò a Belem, dove arrivò il 6
giugno 1943 e dove venne internato in isolamento nella locale base navale, per
poi essere trasferito per via aerea negli Stati Uniti (il ritrovamento del
superstite era stato comunicato dal Brasile agli USA il 1° giugno), dove arrivò
ad un centro per l’interrogatorio il 27 giugno 1943. Dopo la lunga
convalescenza, Lo Coco venne internato in un campo di prigionia nel Mississippi
e poi a New York, dove rimase fino alla fine della guerra e dove cercò
inutilmente di scoprire cosa fosse stato degli uomini del secondo canotto –
anche se facilmente immaginò che morirono di fame e di sete entro qualche
giorno da quando si erano separati da loro – o se fossero stati recuperati i
corpi di qualcuno dei 41 uomini affondati con l’Archimede. In Italia l’Archimede venne
considerato uno dei tanti battelli scomparsi in guerra con tutto l’equipaggio:
fu solo dopo il rientro in patria di Lo Coco che si seppe cos’era successo.
Dopo il rimpatrio, il 26 ottobre 1946 Lo Coco rilasciò una nuova deposizione
sull’accaduto ai carabinieri della stazione di Porticello (Legione di Palermo).
I piloti dei due
aerei affondatori dell’Archimede,
Thurmond Robertson e Gerald Bradford, ricevettero un encomio per la loro azione
contro il sommergibile: anche se i superiori di Robertson “non incoraggiarono”
l’uso improprio che aveva fatto del suo Catalina – un bombardamento in
picchiata, ad una velocità non contemplata dal progetto del PBY Catalina –, gli
venne riconosciuto il grande coraggio nell’azione, come del resto a Bradford.
Robertson ricevette la Distinguished Flying Cross e proseguì nella sua
carriera, anche se, riferì la figlia, ebbe sempre un certo rimorso per aver
causato la morte di 60 uomini. Thurmond Robertson è morto il 21 novembre 2001,
all’età di 85 anni.
Giuseppe Lo Coco,
l’unico sopravvissuto all’affondamento dell’Archimede,
è morto il 30 agosto 2004 all’età di 86 anni.
Ruggieri Abbattista, sottocapo motorista, da
Ugo Avolio, sottocapo silurista, da Napoli
Camillo Boetschi, sottotenente del Genio
Navale Direzione Macchine, da Roma
Bruno Bravo, sottocapo silurista, da Oderzo
Aldo Bulfon, secondo capo silurista, da Moggio
Giuseppe Cantù, sergente cannoniere, da
Giuseppe Capace, sergente elettricista, da
Albino Casagrande, sergente cannoniere, da
Luigi Castellotti, sottocapo cannoniere, da
Giovanni Cerosio, marinaio motorista, da
Guerrino Coltro, sergente silurista, da
Cosimo Cometa, marinaio (ordinanza del comandante),
Roso Corradi, marinaio elettricista, da
Leonida Cresci, marinaio silurista, da Arcola
Cosimo De Cesario, marinaio motorista, da
Giovanni De Simone, marinaio, da Napoli
Vincenzo Dell’Aquila, sottocapo elettricista,
Enrico Deni, marinaio silurista, da Malo
Costantino Esposito, marinaio motorista, da
Paolo Fantasia, sottocapo nocchiere, da Gaeta
Franco Ferrero, marinaio infermiere, da Casale
Franco Firrao, capitano del Genio Navale
Direzione Macchine di complemento (direttore di macchina), da Napoli
Alfredo Galasso, sottocapo radiotelegrafista,
Alfredo Galtieri, sergente motorista, da
Carlo Greppi, guardiamarina, da Casalbeltrame
Luigi Iacchini, marinaio cannoniere, da Pescara
Zlatozar Kastelic, sottocapo
radiotelegrafista, da Matteria
Diego La Licata, sottotenente del Genio Navale
Direzione Macchine, da Palermo
Emanuele Lo Savio, secondo capo elettricista,
Luca Lucchini, sottocapo cannoniere, da Stresa
Adolfo Magnano, sottotenente di vascello di
complemento (ufficiale alle artiglierie), da Genova
Pierino Mandelli, sergente elettricista, da Cinisello
Antonio Mauriello, sottocapo motorista, da
Bruno Miani, tenente del Genio Navale Direzione
Macchine di complemento, da Trieste
Giuseppe Migliorati, secondo capo nocchiere,
Emilio Nocentini, marinaio silurista, da
Giuseppe Perez, marinaio nocchiere, da Sciacca
Pierino Pigozzo, marinaio, da Voghera
Sergio Priviero, marinaio motorista, da
Silvestro Radin, secondo capo silurista, da
Francesco Rispoli, capo radiotelegrafista di
seconda classe, da Ischia
Egidio Rissone, capo motorista di terza classe,
da San Paolo Solbrito
Nino Rubaudo, marinaio fuochista, da Sanremo
Silvio Ruggeri, capo elettricista di terza
classe, da Reggio Calabria
Guido Saccardo, tenente di vascello
(comandante), da Portici
Italo Sandrin, guardiamarina, da Capodistria
Pietro Sanna, marinaio meccanico, da Martis
Aldo Santolamazza, sergente silurista, da Roma
Carmine Sesti, marinaio silurista, da Napoli
Elio Squillantini, marinaio silurista, da Stia
Ennio Suriano, tenente di vascello (comandante
in seconda), da Pianiga
Giorgio Tari, sergente segnalatore, da Fasano
Angelo Tedeschi, marinaio elettricista, da
Onofrio Tito, sottocapo nocchiere, da Trani
Pietro Tomaiuolo, sergente elettricista, da
Rocco Trentadue, secondo capo motorista, da
Dino Ulivi, sottocapo furiere (cuoco), da
Angelo Vallese, sergente motorista, da San
Donà di Piave
Nello Vesprini, marinaio, da Sant’Elpidio a
Tommaso Visentini, sottocapo radiotelegrafista,
Ludovico Vottero, sergente motorista, da
fonte (Regiamarina.net) elenca come caduti sull’Archimede anche altri quattro uomini, il sergente
Francesco Moccia ed i marinai Giulio Montepagano, Bruno Moscolo e Giovanni
Nano, ma questi nomi sono probabilmente finiti per sbaglio nella lista dell’Archimede. In realtà Francesco Moccia, imbarcato sul
risulta deceduto in prigionia in Giappone il 4 settembre 1947, mentre Giulio
Montepagano, Bruno Moscolo e Giovanni Nano morirono nell’affondamento del
sommergibile Morosini, nell’agosto 1942.
Di seguito il
rapporto sull’interrogatorio di Giuseppe Lo Coco, per gentile cortesia del
capitano di vascello della US Navy Jerry Mason, gestore dell’interessantissimo
sito U-Boat Archive (link in fondo alla pagina):
ON THE INTERROGATION OF PRESUMABLY SOLE SURVIVOR FROM ARCHIMEDE, SUNK 15 APRIL 1943
26 July 1943
Chapter I. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
The Italian submarine Archimede was
sunk at 1625 P on 15 April, 1943 at 03° 23' D., 30° 28' W. by two U.S. Navy
PBY-5A aircraft (83-P-5 and 83-P-12) based at Natal, Brazil. Thirty or 40
survivors were seen in the water after the attack; three rubber rafts were
dropped near the survivors which were seen manning them. But, according to the
sole prisoner of war from Archimede [Giuseppe
Lo Coco], only two rafts were successfully manned, one by 13 survivors and the
other by six.
Apparently, on the 29th day after the sinking, one raft with a sole survivor
washed ashore on the Island of Bailique near the western shore of the Amazon
River. The survivor was found delirious and very weak by natives, who transported
him to the nearby Island of Brigue. Some days after the prisoner had
sufficiently recovered, it was discovered by the natives that he was Italian
and a member of Archimede's
crew. The Brazilian naval authorities in Belem were notified of the survivor's
presence. The prisoner arrived in Belem 6 June, 1943, aboard a Brazilian
gunboat. He was interned incommunicado at the Brazilian naval base, from which
he was forwarded to the United States by air and arrived at an interrogation
center 27 June, 1943.
It is pointed out that this report is based mainly on the story of one survivor
and that its accuracy cannot be fully established. Unfortunately, no other
Italian naval prisoner was available to test the sole survivor's story. The
prisoner did not appear at all security conscious. In fact he was anti-Fascist
and loathed the Germans. He was a Sicilian, 26 years old, with only three years
of elementary schooling. He was conscripted in 1939 and had been four
years in the submarine service. He appeared of about average intelligence but
his memory with respect to dates and technical features of his submarine was
limited -- perhaps affected by his 29 days' ordeal.
The prisoner and the aerial action reports both conform the certain destruction
of Archimede. There has been no
success in the search for other survivors, and it is believed that all the
others perished at sea.
Chapter II. CREW OF ARCHIMEDE
According to the prisoner Archimede had
a complement of 60 officers and men. Her commanding officer was Tenente di
Vascello* Guido Saccardo, a Neapolitan, 29 years old. He was commissioned 10
January, 1936, and received his latest rank five years later. His first
assignment was a torpedo boat. He served in the Spanish Civil War campaign.
Since Italy's entry into the present war he had served on destroyers; his last
ship before volunteering for submarine service was the destroyer Lanciera [Lanciere], which was later sunk [il 23 marzo 1942, in una tempesta,
di ritorno dalla seconda battaglia della Sirte; per quel tempo, comunque,
Saccardo era già sbarcato]. On her he had been second in command and acted as
fire control officer. But, he had told the prisoner, she had done nothing in
the Mediterranean except escort a few convoys so that he had become disgusted
with her inactivity. After a short course at the commander's school at Pola he
went overland to Bordeaux where he relieved Capitano di Corvetta Gianfrancesco
Gazzana Priaroggia, a Milanese, of the command of Archimede in August or September 1942. According to the
prisoner, Saccardo was a kind, easy-going officer and very well liked by his
officers and crew, but there was considerable friction between him and Tenente
di Vascello Zuliani [in realtà Suriano], his Executive Officer. Saccardo was
inexperienced in submarine service, gave orders poorly particularly with regard
to torpedo firing and crash diving. The prisoner related that on the occasion
of the sinking of Oronsay during
the eleventh cruise, his commander caused the sub to plummet down about 40
metres at a diving angle of 45 degrees before bringing her under control. Then,
at periscope depth, he missed the target with his first torpedo, so that
Zuliani took over the firing of the next four torpedoes. Saccardo was very
popular with his men because he had arranged for a refund of money charged his
crew for double rations at the Bordeaux base. Immediately after the sinking
of Archimede he encourage
the survivors and kept them together. He appeared calm and resigned to his
fate. The sinking, according to the prisoner, was attributed by Zuliani to the
commander's youth and inexperience.
The Executive Officer was Tenente di Vascello Zuliani from Padua. (O.N.I. Note:
The only probable choice in the Italian Navy List is an Alberto Zuliani,
Settetenente in the Reserve Port Captains' Corps, commissioned 12 October,
1939.) [In realtà, “Zuliani” altro non è che la trascrizione errata di
“Suriano”, il cognome del comandante in seconda dell’Archimede, Ennio Suriano; il suo cognome, evidentemente, venne
pronunciato o capito erroneamente durante l’interrogatorio.] He had
joined Archimede at
Bordeaux before her eleventh cruise. Previously he had been on a midget sub on
the Black Sea. He supervised some of Archimede's
exercises outside of Bordeaux between her next to the last and final cruises.
He was the first watch officer. The prisoner stated that Zuliani was extremely
unpopular with the crew, effeminate, critical and cantankerous. He always
wanted three or four orderlies to serve him coffee, cold cream, or pomade for
his hair. He was the only officer who attempted stern discipline with the crew.
While in a feverish condition after the sinking he was very critical of
Saccardo's ability and stated that the latter was entirely responsible for
Capitano Direzione Macchine Lorenzo Ferrari [un altro nome pronunciato, capito
o trascritto erroneamente: si trattava in realtà di Franco Firrao], a
Neopolitan, 33 years old, was the Chief Engineer Officer. He was evidently very
capable and well liked. When the order to abandon ship was given, he held many
of the crew below at the point of a gun and said, "If our sub sinks, we
die with her". According to the prisoner most of the 35 crew members who
did not succeed in leaving the submarine were held below by Ferrari.
The gunnery officer was Sottotenente di Vascello Tommaso Magnani [in realtà
Magnano], a Genoese, 30 years old, who was on the inactive list according
to the Italian Navy List of November 1940. He had served in the Spanish Civil
War campaign. The prisoner stated that Magnani had been a navigation officer in
the Merchant Marine and that he had been drafted to submarine service in the
late summer of 1942. He had, admittedly, no knowledge of gunnery. Still he was
officer in charge of many gunnery exercises on Archimede between the next to the last and final cruises. The
prisoner stated that Magnani stood by with arms folded near the forward deck
gun during the plane attack leading to the sinking. The ineffectiveness of the
forward deck gun during this attack was ascribed by the prisoner to Magnani's
complete inexperience. He was quoted as having said, "I hope we submerged
soon and get out of this mess". He was popular, however, with both
officers and men.
Sottotenente [in realtà tenente] Direzione Macchine Bruno Miani of Trieste, 28
years old, was the first Assistant Engineer Officer. He was young and
inexperienced; his first cruise was the last cruise of Archimede. The second Assistant
Engineering Officer was another young officer who had also joined the boat on
her last cruise -- Sottotenente Direzione Macchine Boeschi [Camillo Boteschi],
of Trieste. He and the other three junior officers were very well liked by the
Guardiamarina Franco (?) [in realtà Carlo] Greppi, a Genoese, Guardiamarina
Alicata [Diego La Licata; sottotenente GN, equivalente al grado di
guardiamarina degli ufficiali di vascello] of Palermo, and Aspirante Sandri
[Italo Sandrin; in realtà un guardiamarina e non un aspirante] of Padua were
the junior watch officers. They, too, had joined Archimede on her final cruise. Alicata had transferred
from Cagni just
before Archimede's last cruise.
The prisoner stated that his boat had had five commanders during her life span.
Saccardo had taken over from Tenente di Vascello Gazzana. (O.N.I. Note:
According to Italian Press notices Gazzana was promoted to Capitano di Corvette
in May 1943.) Gazzana made two cruises on Archimede -- the second and third cruises out of
Bordeaux. According to the prisoner, the only success during these two cruises
were two torpedo hits on an American cruiser of the Pensacola class [in realtà
fu attaccato senza risultato l’incrociatore USS Moffett] and the sinking of an American ship of 6,000 tons
[il Cardina]. Prior to
joining Archimede Gazzana
had gone to the commanders' school at Danzig for a three-months' course. The
prisoner considered him a good officer and a good commander. This opinion was
shared by all the men. Gazzana, an ex-boxer, used to box with his men and
playfully manhandle them. He was lenient with an efficient crew, but stern with
a spiritless or sloppy crew.
While Archimede was
awaiting orders to leave Massawa for Bordeaux, Capitano di Corvette Marino
Salvatori arrived by air from Rome 10 days before her famous trip.* He took her
successfully to Bordeaux and commanded her on her first war cruise out of the
French port in September or October 1941. After this he returned to Rome where
he was given a shore assignment in the Navy Ministry. The prisoner stated that
Salvatori was a Count and as such received double pay. This extra pay he shared
with his crew. Salvatori was popular with his men and was a good naval officer.
According to the prisoner, Tenente di Cascello Mario Signorini, who preceded
Salvatori, was unqualified and much below the average naval officer. After her
acceptance trials, Signorini was given command of Archimede and sailed her from Taranto to Massawa. Operating
out of this East African base he made three peace time cruises and seven war
cruises until the advent of Salvatori in March or April 1941.
honor of first commanding officer at the commissioning of Archimede went to Capitano di Corvette Michele Asnasch, "a big
paunchy Venetian". He put the boat through her various trials and also
took a short trip to Barcelona. He was popular, good natured and for his
size quite agile. He was reputed to have considerable knowledge of submarines.
The prisoner was certain that Capitano Genio Navale Varoli was never on Archimede. (O.N.I. Note:
Varoli is a prisoner from Tritone and stated that he had served under
Gazzana on Archimede during
most of 1942.) Tenente Genio Navale Alfio Di Bella made the trip from
Massawa to Bordeaux as the engineer officer. He is now Capitano Genio
Navale on the training ship Vespucci. Sottotenente di Vascello Leo
Masina of Bologna was formerly navigation officer on Archimede. On the long trip to Bordeaux he acted as second in
command under Salvatori. In January 1943, he left Bordeaux for a three
months' course at the commanders' school in Pola.
According to the prisoner there was a fine family spirit on board Archimede; officers and men were very
friendly except for Zuliani who attempted to be a severe disciplinarian. On the
last cruise the crew included 25 new ratings freshly arrived from the Pola
submarine school. The prisoner and 25 other ratings were veteran submarine men;
but of these only five or six had made the trip from East Africa to France. The
prisoner complained that there were constantly new ratings to instruct ashore
The sole survivor, Giuseppe Lococo [Lo Coco], was a Sottocapo Nostromo
(Coxswain, 3cl.), who had been conscripted in 1938 and had been in submarine
service since joining Archimede in
January 1939. He described his duties as being a four hour daily watch on the
conning tower, the operation of the horizontal rudder mechanism in the control
room, and loading the forward deck gun. The prisoner called his boat "una
carcassa" (an old hulk). In speaking of the commissioning exercises the
prisoner expressed the wish that he had never had the honor of raising Archimede's flag nor received a billet
Chapter III. EARLY HISTORY OF ARCHIMEDE
prisoner was very definite that the submarine sunk was not the
"old" Archimede, 880
tons, launched in 1934 at Taranto. This boat, he said, had been sold to
Spain in 1936. (O.N.I. Note: According to the 1941 edition of
Jane's Fighting Ships Archimede was
believed lost in 1940. In ONI-202 of February 1943, it is listed as still
operating.) The prisoner stated that his submarine was a
"new" Archimede, 1.100
tons, built at the Cantiere Navale Franco Tosi, Taranto, during 1938. Her
keel was laid early 1938, and after seven or eight months in building she was
launched at the end of 1938. When the prisoner joined her in early
January 1939, half of the crew had already arrived at Taranto. She was
commissioned in the middle of January 1939, and the prisoner claimed that he
had had the honor of raising her flag. Presiding at the commissioning
exercises was Capitano di Fregata Remo Polacchini, second in command of the
submarine base at Taranto. (O.N.I. Note: Brother of the well known
Contrammiraglio Romolo Polacchini.)
trials were held outside of Taranto and consisted of crash diving, escape lung
and torpedo firing exercises. These lasted 20 days; a few repairs were
then necessary for the motors, pumps and valves. Capitano di Corvetta
Michele Asnasch took over Archimede at
her commissioning and was with her until Tenente di Vascello Mario Signorini
arrived to sail her from Taranto to Massawa. She made a trip to Barcelona
with the building yard's engineers on board: here they held trials for
seven days. Upon her return to Taranto more repairs and refittings which
lasted one month were necessary. Following this, torpedo firing exercises
were again held outside the port.
refuelled and took on supplies for a trip to Massawa, her future base.
The builders sent an engineer to Africa to continue tests until the end of 1939
when the boat was officially consigned to the Italian Navy. She went from
Taranto to Tobruk where she remained for two days. She then proceeded to
Port Said remaining there one day. She arrived without incident at
Massawa in the early summer of 1939, after a 15 days' trip out of
Taranto. Her hull was scraped in one of the two floating docks; this and
a few internal repairs required 20 days.
Massawa she went through torpedo firing and crash diving exercises and gunnery
practice for a month. At that time she would crash dive to a depth of 15
meters in 36 seconds; later in the Atlantic she required 56 or 60 seconds to
reach the same depth.
first cruise out of Massawa started on 5 December, 1939. She set out with
two or three other submarines, went to Assab, held exercises mostly crash
diving outside the port for five or six days, and then returned to Massawa.
second cruise out of Massawa was in January 1940. She again sailed down
to Assab and held the same exercises as before. She was back in Massawa
in 15 days, and the crew went ashore for two months to a rest camp near Asmara.
third and last peace time cruise occurred in April 1940; she visited Port Sudan
where the crew spent two days in port. After a cruise of eight days she
returned to Massawa where she was put in a floating dock for repairs. One
torpedo tube was leaking, and the crash diving tank which had been
unsatisfactory was removed and a new one was installed. The prisoner said
that the heat of the Red Sea was very hard on his boat and that it was
necessary to clean her hull after every cruise.
IV. WAR CRUISES OUT OF MASSAWA
When Italy entered the war in June 1940, there were two submarine flotillas at
Massawa, consisting of the submarines listed below:
1. Ferraris, Galelei [Galilei], Archimede,
2. Perla, Macalle, Galvani and Guglielmotti.
Archimede made seven war cruises
out of Massawa all under the command of Tenente di Vascello Signorini. The
prisoner stated that Capitano di Corvetta Livio Piomarta never made a cruise
on Archimede out of
Massawa. (O.N.I. Note: Piomarta commanded Archimede on one cruise out of Massawa, according to survivors
of Ferraris; see C.B. 4093 (8),
FIRST WAR CRUISE
On the morning of 10 June, 1940, she was in the roadstead of Massawa harbor.
She was ordered to leave immediately and to operate off the lower entrance of
the Suez canal for 40 days. But she was out only 15 days because early one day
they were sighted and attacked by six destroyers. She remained submerged for
twenty-four hours during intermittent depth charge attacks. The air refrigerating
tubes were broken; resultant gas killed six of the crew and temporarily crazed
the others except the officers in the control room, who had shut its water
tight doors. Ventilators also kept it free of gas. After all danger of further
attack had passed, the officers surfaced the submarine and cleared the
compartments of gas. The boat returned to Massawa where the crew was
hospitalized for five months. They were then sent to a rest camp at Asmara for
SECOND WAR CRUISE
This was a mission of seven days down to a zone off Perim. She left Massawa on
20 December, 1940. The prisoner stated that "they sighted nothing and did
THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH, SIXTH AND SEVENTH WAR CRUISES
Each cruise was a routine patrol of five or six day's duration. Again the
prisoner stated that "they did nothing".
Chapter V. TRIP FOM MASSAWA TO BORDEAUX
Archimede was one of the four
submarines remaining out of the original eight when the war broke out. The
other three were Perla, Ferraris, and Guglielmotti. According to the prisoner his boat was lying in the
roadstead of Massawa at 0400, 2 or 3 April, 1941, when enemy gunfire was heard
approaching the port from the direction of Asmara. Archimede under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Mario Salvadori
and Guglielmotti, commanded by
Capitano di Corvette Gino Spagone, were ordered to leave immediately for
Bordeaux. Perla had left first about
2 March, 1941, and Ferraris about 20
days later. Before giving the order for the four submarines to depart the
Italian Admiral of the base and Spagone, his second in command, had made
arrangements for their refueling at sea. The prisoner stated that five or six
days out of Massawa he heard a Rome radio broadcast acknowledge the British
entry into Massawa 8 April, 1941. (O.N.I. Note: The prisoner's dates are at
variance with all previous reliable information. According to the Ferraris Report the four submarines left
Massawa 3 March, 1941; Guglielmotti
arrived at Bordeaux 5 May, 1941, Ferraris
8 May, 1941, and Perla 28 May, 1941.
The Perla Report indicates her
arrival as 20 May, 1941, another submarine's arrival 6 May, 1941, and another
11 May, 1941. From press notices and other sources it appears certain that some
of the four submarines from Massawa had arrived before 20 May, 1941, and all
had reached their destination before 31 May, 1941.)
The prisoner said that his boat left in such a hurry that twelve of the crew
were left behind in Massawa - one was a motor mechanic, the others were torpedo
and electrical ratings. She sailed with a complement of thirty five including
eight officers and eight petty officers. There were on board, however, two
passengers, a German merchant marine captain versed in Italian to assist in the
refueling later, and on Italian Maresciallo Nocchiere (Warrant Quartermaster)
aquatinted with the waters between Massawa and Bordeaux. Archimede and Guglielmotti
travelled together on the surface for several days out of Massawa, submerging
in the Red Sea only once or twice to test trim. Soon after their departure they
met two convoys going in opposite directions. They fell in behind the south
bound convoy and were undetected. They started through Bab el Mandeb at 2400
and were clear at 0400. At this point the two submarines parted. The prisoner
said that Archimede passed Madagascar
at a considerable distance but he did not know whether to the west or east of
the island. After a trip of 45 or 46 days she arrived at the rendezvous 500
miles south of Madagascar to find Guglielmotti
waiting half submerged but no sign of the supply ship. (O.N.I. Note: In view of
the 45 or 46 days' traveling and also the fact the only 30 days, according to
the prisoner, were required after refueling to arrive at Bordeaux, the position
given by the prisoner is very improbable. This rendezvous may have been the
position of the second refueling of Perla,
which 23 April, 1941, secured alongside a German oil tanker at 26° S., 18° W.)
After making the proper recognition signals the two submarines pulled up close
enough for the crews to converse. Archimede
had practically exhausted her supply of provisions a day or two previously, and
she had only 30 tons of fuel left. Her maximum fuel capacity was 200 tons, but
at the beginning of her long voyage she had been able to get only 100 tons. Her
commander facetiously suggested to the crew that with their enormous fuel
supply of 30 tons they should take a run to Japan.
A short time before the supply ship* arrived, Ferraris also arrived on the scene. The prisoner was definite that Archimede refueled first, and was then
followed by Guglielmotti and Ferraris. She finished refueling at
2400, 18 or 19 May, 1941, and immediately continued her journey. She took a
course 300 miles south of the Cape of Good Hope. Thirty days later she arrived
at Le Verdon at 0900, one hour after the arrival of Guglielmotti. Ferraris
arrived 10 days later; she had been badly battered in the Bay of Biscay by a
storm which had ripped off her after deck flooring. Perla came into Bordeaux a month later than the prisoner's boat.
After their arrival at Bordeaux the entire crew was hospitalized for a month.
They were then given one month's leave plus 4 days for traveling. In Italy the
crew was unfavorably impressed by the lack of attention or receptions which
contracted with the great welcome and publicity they had received at Bordeaux.
The prisoner returned to his boat in mid-August 1941. From her arrival until
early September 1941, she was in Dry Dock No. 2 for repairs and refittings.
VI. EIGHTH WAR CRUISE
With Salvatori still as her commander, Archimede left
Bordeaux for a forty days' cruise 10 October, 1941, a few days before the
departure of Ferraris. Both had the
same operating zone off Gibraltar. She was near the scene of the sinking of Ferraris; they had arrived in the zone
21 October, 1941. At dawn 25 October, 1941, she sighted six enemy destroyers.
She immediately submerged and soon heard the "pinging" of Asdic
Search Gear on her hull. The destroyers depth-charged her from 0800 to 1300 and
from 1400 to 2100. The prisoner heard 66 depth charge explosions. Her deck
flooring was completely smashed, all lights were blown out, fuel tanks leaked,
pumps were put out of order, the glass on instruments was demolished,
manometers were crippled, and some torpedo tubes were leaking. Other than that
the prisoner said that his boat survived the attacks very well! She continued
to operate about 600 miles west of Gibraltar. Before the attack she had
operated close to Gibraltar at night, but during the day she had remained a
considerable distance away. She returned without any further incident to
Bordeaux 17 November, 1941, for two months' repairs. She was laid up in Dry
Dock No. 1. The crew was given 22 days' leave, at the end of which the prisoner
with half of the crew was sent to an Italian rest camp near Bordeaux, where
they had gun firing exercises and received instruction in their particular
branches. Salvatori left Archimede and
went to Rome for a shore job. Capitano di Corvetta Giuseppe Cardi [Caridi],
second in command of the base, assumed responsibility for the boat.
Chapter VII. NINTH WAR CRUISE
Tenente di Vascello Gianfrancesco Priaroggia, who had previously been Executive
Officer under the famous Fecia di Cossato on Tazzoli, relieved Caridi in
January 1942. The crew was all embarked 17 January, 1942. Gazzana took Archimede out immediately for twenty
days. Cappellini and Finzi went out with her at the same time, but had
different operating zones. Gazzaba's mission was to report to the base at
Bordeaux all ship movements out of Lisbon. At night she approached the coast at
periscope depth to a point where the shore lights were visible. Five or six
lighted ships of Spanish and Argentinean ownership were sighted leaving the
port. On 6 February, 1942, she returned to Bordeaux. Two months of repairs
followed during which the "old" 100.47 mm. forward gun was removed
and a new 100.43 mm. gun was installed. The prisoner stated that Gazzana and
twenty-five of the crew went to Danzig for training while the boat was being
VIII. TENTH WAR CRUISE
The prisoner was left ashore on this cruise. His estimates of its length varied
from forty to sixty days. He believed that his boat with Gazzana still as
commander left Bordeaux early May 1942. During this month the prisoner had fifteen
days' leave to visit his sick father in Palermo. While there he hears the
Italian radio broadcast Gazzana's claim of two torpedo hits on an American
cruiser of the Pensacola class. (O.N.I. Note: No cruiser of this class was even
in the Atlantic at this time.) [in realtà l’Archimede aveva
attaccato infruttuosamente l’incrociatore statunitense Milwaukee scortato dal
cacciatorpediniere USS Moffett]
At the end of May the prisoner was back in Bordeaux; twenty days later Archimede returned flying one small pennant
for the sinking of an armed steamer of 6,000 tons. (O.N.I. Note: According to
an Italian Bulletin of 25 June, 1942, this ship was sunk the day after the
Pensacola action.) [si trattava del piroscafo Cardina] The prisoner was also told by crew members about the two
torpedo hits on the American cruiser. Gazzana had not been able to see the
results because he had been immediately attacked by destroyers, screening the
cruiser, which had launched twenty-nine depth charges at the submerged
submarine. Her electrical installations had been seriously disrupted, and there
were also various internal damages. These necessitated over a month's repairs.
Gazzana left Archimede in
August 1942. Tenente di Vascello Guido Saccardo had come from Naples overland
to Bordeaux to relieve him. Saccardo had previously been in the Mediterranean
on a destroyer. The crew remained ashore during Archimede's repairs.
Chapter IX. ELEVENTH WAR CRUISE
Archimede left for a sixty day's
cruise approximately 11 September, 1942, with Saccardo as her commanding
officer. Her mission was to operate in a triangular zone off Freetown described
as follows: the base was along the equator from 13° W. to 22° W., the apex was
at 09° N., 18° W., the two sides were the lines from the ends of the base to
the apex. The prisoner claimed that, leaving Le Verdon, she followed a course
as far as Cape Finistère and from Cape Finistère through the Canaries to her
zone. Before reaching it she sighted only two Spanish ships. After cruising in
her zone for a few days, she sighted Oronsay early
9 October, 1942. Saccardo fired the first torpedo and missed. Zuliani, his
Executive Officer, took over and made a hit with the second torpedo. The
prisoner stated that three more torpedoes were fired, one of them by a torpedo
rating, Santalamazza [Aldo Santolamazza], which actually sank the ship. The
rating lost his diploma as expert torpedoman, because he had fired prematurely
at the ready command. (O.N.I. Note: Oronsay was
a British cargo and passenger ship, 20,043 tons, torpedoed without warning at
0515, 9 October, 1942, at estimated position 04° 29' N., 20° 58' W. She sank at
1815, after receiving three torpedo hits.) The prisoner stated that his boat
took no other offensive action. She returned to her base between 11 and 20
November, 1942. Repairs in dry dock were necessary. The crew received a month's
leave, after which some had gunnery practice on a range outside of Bordeaux
while others including the prisoner instructed new ratings from Pola aboard Archimede. The prisoner celebrated both
Christmas and New Year's Eve in Bordeaux by getting drunk.
Chapter X. TWELFTH AND LAST WAR CRUISE
The beginning of this cruise was marked by the advent of four new young
officers and twenty five "green" ratings from Pola of whose training
the prisoner had a low opinion. The prisoner stated that, before leaving, the
crew was shrived and received communion from the same priest that was seen
by Ferraris at the
beginning of her last war cruise. The prisoner also said that the crew had a
premonition of their impending fate for they bade farewell to the priest
exclaiming: "We shall not see each other again, we are going to our
death." Together with Da Vinci and Bagnolini, Archimede left Bordeaux 14 February, 1943, for a four months'
cruise. Prisoner stated that his boat developed motor trouble before reaching
Le Verdon and turned back. At 0500, 15 February she set out again preceded by a
pilot vessel to Le Verdon. From this point a minesweeper about 100 meters ahead
of her took up the van flanked by two German destroyers with planes overhead.
The minesweeper exploded two mines near the entrance of the Gironde. The escort
left Archimede after one
day. It took her six days and nights to traverse the danger zone of the Bay of
Biscay. During this period she travelled submerged from 0800 to 2000, from 2000
to 0800 she continued on the surface. Twenty five days out of Bordeaux she
arrived in her operating zone. This was described as a tri-angle: one leg 500
miles long from Pernambuco to St. Paul Rocks, the second leg 300 miles in a
line NW from St. Paul Rocks, and the base was formed by the line joining the
two legs. Five or six days before arriving in her zone, one Argentinean and two
Spanish ships were sighted. She entered the operating zone approximately 12
March, 1943. She patrolled the zone without sighting any enemy shipping. At
2400, 14 April, the prisoner saw plainly the lighthouse of San Fernando de
Noronha. They continued on a course toward St. Paul Rocks.
While on patrol, stern torpedo tube No. 7 was found to be leaking badly, the
torpedo was removed and the tube flooded.
Chapter XI. SINKING OF ARCHIMEDE
The prisoner's story is at variance in a number of facts with the aerial
reports so that it is considered advisable to submit both.
THE AERIAL ACTION REPORT.
An Italian submarine was sighted at 1510 P, April, 1943, by a U.S. Navy PBY-5A
(83-P-5) of Squadron VP-83 based on Natal, Brazil. The weather was good,
visibility varied from 10 miles to unlimited at an altitude of 7,300 feet. The
submarine was fully surfaced and was sighted dead ahead at a range of 8 miles
and on opposite course making 5/7 knots. The plane pilot held his course and
altitude to a point about aft of the submarine. About that time the latter
opened machine gun fire. The plane made a gradual turn to starboard and lost
about 1,000 feet altitude. The pilot decided to make a horizontal bombing run
at 6,000 feet and drop from his starboard wing two Mark-44 bombs carrying
Mark-19 nose fuzes. Gunfire from the enemy boat had not ceased. At an altitude
of 6,000 feet and at a range of about one half mile, it appeared that the
submarine was about to submerge. The plane immediately dove at an angle of
about 60° and at about 2,000 feet released all 4 bombs including 2 Mark-44
bombs on the port wing equipped only with hydrostatic fuzes set for a 25 foot
The bombs from the starboard wing were seen to explode close aboard and to port
of the boat about 20 feet abaft the conning tower. Those from the port wing
exploded to starboard about 60 feet forward of the conning tower. The enemy
continued to fire back throughout the run. Water thrown up by the explosions
completely hid the submarine. When the water subsided, she was seen on the
surface circling and apparently unable to go to starboard, and leaving a long
streak of brown oil. Much dark grey smoke was coming directly from and aft of
the conning tower; she appeared out of control doing 4/5 knots. About 15 or 20
minutes later the smoke cleared and she resumed a straight course bearing 065°
- 080° T. Keeping her in sight the pilot climbed to about 6,000 feet and
radioed to nearby planes for assistance. While the plane was circling around 6
miles away, puffs of smoke were observed from the enemy's forward deck gun - 10
rounds during 40 minutes before the arrival of a second plane.
Forty-five minutes after the first attack another PBY-5A (83-P-12) of the same
squadron arrived on the scene. It had received a signal from the first plane
and proceeded to the location indicated. Flying at 1,500 feet it sighted the
submarine at a range of eight miles, fully surfaced but down at the stern with
her after deck awash. Direct attack would have been beam on, but the plane flew
around to the stern for a 180° target angle. The boat altered course to port
during the plane's run, thus making a target angle of 210° at the instant of
bomb release. At about 1,500 yards both plane and submarine opened fire, the
enemy gun on the aft end of the conning tower firing about two rounds per
second. In this first run the plane dropped a load of four bombs from an
altitude of 50/100 feet; they were Mark-44 depth bombs set for sixty-five foot
spacing and twenty-five foot depth. Explosions were observed along the port
quarter and probably bracketed the hull just aft of the conning tower, the
fourth on the starboard deck just aft of the conning tower. The same plane made
four more runs circling to starboard. The submarine and plane exchanged gunfire
during the bombing attack and the four subsequent strafing attacks.
The first plane combined with the second plane in two of the four strafing
runs. She also made a third strafing run alone, during which the boat's
bow was sticking out of the water at an angle of about 50°. Following the
explosions caused by the bombs of the second plane the submarine settled
gradually by its stern and the bow came up out of the water until it protruded
at an angle of about 50°. She slid slowly down and backwards until completely
under the surface. She sank at 1625 P, about 6 minutes after the last mentioned
explosions. A considerable quantity of heavy brown oil appeared on the surface
forming a 25' x 200' semi-circle over the spot of the sinking. One large burst
of bubbles appeared as the bow slid under. There was no debris but
approximately 30 or 40 survivors were in the water, one-third of whom appeared
to be wearing Kapok life preservers or escape lungs.
The enemy exchanged gunfire during all the bombing and strafing runs of both
planes. In fact, the gunner on the aft conning tower machine gun did not cease
firing until the tower slid beneath the surface. The second plane observed many
hits on and around the conning tower from its bow gun. This plane made two runs
after the sinking, and dropped one 7-man rubber raft on each run close to the survivors.
The first plane also made a run after the sinking to drop one 7-man rubber raft
near the survivors. Following her initial bombing attack the first plane
remained in the area almost two hours. At the end of the operation the
survivors were seen manning the life rafts dropped. A plane searched in vain on
the following day for the survivors.
The forward deck gun and the 37 mm. mounted machine gun on the aft part of the
conning tower were ineffective, but a 50 calibre machine gun on top of the
tower was more accurate and made 3 hits on one plane. The aft deck gun may have
been blown off by explosions.
THE PRISONER'S STORY.
There was some clouds in the sky and the sun was low on the horizon when
the first attacking plane appeared. The prisoner was in the aft torpedo
compartment at 2000 on 15 April, 1943, when he heard the Executive Officer
announce over the loudspeaker: "Plane sighted dead ahead."
Immediately Saccardo gave orders to man the guns and to secure all watertight
doors. The prisoner ran to his post at the forward deck gun. Magnani stood by
with his arms folded and giving no orders but expressing the hope that the
order to submerge would soon be given. All on deck were surprised that the
first plane made an initial run over their boat without dropping any bombs. The
submarine began evasive tactics but made no attempt to submerge. From a point
aft of her the plane turned back for a run over the boat. It dropped two bombs,
both missed but one dropped close to the forward starboard side. The concussion
from the explosion was terrific, the outer and inner hatches of the forward
hatchway were ripped open and away from their hinges, and a mountainous wall of
water covered the entire boat. In fact, many of the survivors were sick from
the quantity of sea water they swallowed during this cascade.
Because of the damage to the forward hatches Archimede was unable to submerge. The lighting installations
had been smashed and one Diesel engine had been rendered inoperative. She
continued on the surface following an evasive course. The plane in the
meanwhile kept circling at a distance. The prisoner claimed that her guns did
not fire during the attack nor before the appearance of the second plane.
Fifteen minutes elapsed between the first and second attacks.
Suddenly out of a cloud about 1,000 meters away, a second plane appeared and
made a run at low altitude over the submarine. It dropped two bombs which hit
the pressure hull aft of the conning tower. One tore through the aft hatchway,
and a sheet of flame burst from the oil deposit at the bottom of the hatchway.
The four primed torpedoes in the aft tubes also exploded.
The explosions ripped a tremendous hole in the pressure hull, and the aft
torpedo compartment hung like "a broken arm" from the rest of the boat.
She plunged stern first beneath the surface with her bow high in the air. The
prisoner was peppered by many small metal fragments in the second bomb attack.
The Engineer Officer [Franco Firrao] at the point of a gun held many of the
crew below. Twenty-five including the Commanding Officer succeeded in getting
into the water free of the sinking submarine, but of these six were drowned
either because of wounds or burns from flaming oil. The machine gun on the port
side of the aft conning tower had been rendered useless during the first
bombing attack, but the starboard machine gun manned by Sottocapo Motorista
Votero [Ludovico Vottero, che era in realtà un sergente e non un sottocapo]
continued to fire until the water reached his neck. He was badly wounded in one
leg and died shortly after he was pulled aboard a raft. The prisoner protested
that the first plane machine-gunned those in the water before dropping a rubber
Three rubber rafts were dropped by the planes but only two were recovered. The
prisoner swam about 100 meters to recover them. He inflated them, tied one in
tow and rowed to the other survivors. One raft was manned by thirteen including
the Captain, the Executive Officer, two junior officers (Greppi and Magnani)
and the prisoner. In the other there were six ratings. The two rafts tied up
together and drifted as the occupants were too weak to row. The prisoner stated
that according to Greppi they were drifting toward the Antilles. On the day
after the sinking as well as on the following day planes were seen circling
around at a distance. Some of the survivors stood up and blew little whistles
furnished in the rafts. They had practically no clothing for signaling. But
they were never sighted. On the fifth day adrift, a steamer was sighted on the
horizon but again no success attended their attempts to signal her attention.
Again on the seventh day a steamer which Saccardo believed to be
Argentinean, passed about 1,200 meters away at approximately 10 knots. Saccardo
then transferred to the raft with six men, borrowed 2 oars from the first raft
and set off in the direction of the ship. He promised to return for the
remaining twelve survivors if he were successful. Nothing was seen or heard of
the Commander and his companions after that. The prisoner doubted that Saccardo
ever succeeded in reaching the ship. The prisoner's raft drifted on; the
survivors one by one except for the prisoner died either from wounds, burns,
hunger, thirst or from drinking too much sea water. Zuliani died two or three
days before the rescue of the sole survivor. Only an occasional brief rain
squall interrupted the intense heat of the day. The prisoner had a narrow
escape on the twenty-eighth day adrift; the raft overturned throwing him into
the water but the next wave righted the raft and threw him back into the raft.
This incident reminded the prisoner that Zuliani before dying had assured him
that he would be the sole survivor. On the twenty-ninth day after the sinking
the raft washed ashore on the Island of Bailique near the Western shore of the
Amazon River; the prisoner was found weak and delirious by two Brazilian
Chapter XII. DETAILS OF ARCHIMEDE
According to the prisoner 1,100 tons on the surface and 1,200 tons submerged.
WIDTH OF PRESSURE HULL AMIDSHIPS.
HEIGHT OF PRESSURE HULL.
Between 4 and 5 metres.
HEIGHT OF PRESSURE HULL AND TANKS.
Between 5 and 6 metres.
EXTREME WIDTH OF PRESSURE HULL AND SADDLE TANKS.
Between 6 and 7 metres.
HEIGHT OF CONTROL ROOM.
HEIGHT OF CONNING TOWER FROM DECK.
Between 2 and 3 metres.
WIDTH OF PLATFORM ON CONNING TOWER.
LENGTH OF PLATFORM.
WIDTH OF DECK PLATFORM.
Raked and rounded on top.
According to the prisoner improved Archimede
On the port side of the gray-colored conning tower one of the crew had painted
a white dolphin.
LAYOUT (FROM BOW TO STERN).
Forward Torpedo Compartment.
Hammocks for ratings.
Watertight bulkhead and escape chamber.
Petty Officers' Quarters forward, port and starboard.
Hydrophone booth forward starboard.
Captain's enclosure aft starboard.
Officer's Quarters starboard.
Radio Cabin and Water Closet aft port.
Munitions magazine under floor plating aft of periscopes.
Electric motors and galley.
Watertight bulkhead and escape chamber.
Aft Torpedo Compartment.
Hammocks for ratings.
Eight 21" tubes, 4 forward and 4 aft. The two aft upper tubes were
numbered 1 (starboard) 2 (port); the two aft lower were 3 (starboard) 4 (port).
Forward the upper tubes were 5 (starboard) and 6 (port); the lower 7
(starboard) and 8 (port). The tubes were checked every 7 or 8 days for water
leaks. No splashless-discharge "senza bella" apparatus was fitted.
All tubes were loaded with primed torpedoes on war cruises.
She carried ten 533 mm Naples torpedoes, six electric and four magnetic, and
six 450 mm Fiume air torpedoes. All the former type were marked
"Silurificio di Napoli". There were eight reserve torpedoes, four in
each torpedo compartment kept under the plating, two port ad two starboard. Two
Naples electric torpedoes and six Fiume were carried aft and eight Naples
including the magnetic were carried forward. The maximum range of the Naples
type was 8,000 metres, that of the Fiume type was 6,000 metres; at the end of their
maximum run the unexploded torpedoes sank. The Naples type was seven metres
long with an explosive load of 250 kilos of trinotrotoluol while the Fiume
torpedo was six metres long with an explosive load of 150 kilos. The smaller
torpedoes were used in tubes 3 and 4 only; to accommodate them rings were
inserted. These weighed 100 kilos each and were described as two iron hoops
joined by four wooden shafts around which were fastened six iron
"ribs", the whole being covered by a zinc cylindrical shield. These
rings were removed and cleaned at the dock. Generally the depth setting for
torpedoes was four metres, but in the case of the magnetic ones the Captain set
the depth according to the draft of the target plus one or two metres for
passing beneath the ship. The magnetic torpedo would explode even if it passed
the target at a distance of 50 metres, the prisoner claimed, and would cause
great damage to the hull of the ship.
Inside the warhead there were two pistols both of the same type one behind the
other; these fired simultaneously. The prisoner first said that the maximum
angling of the torpedoes was 90° and later changed it to 50°. Prisoner saw the
wake of his torpedoes very clearly at night, and during the day waves from the
The four Naples magnetic torpedoes were embarked at Bordeaux. A magnetic shield
was attached over and to the warhead. A key valve on the side of the shield was
regulated before launching.
All torpedo primers were checked every six or seven days. The prisoner had never
seen nor heard of S.I.C torpedoes. In the control room aft of the observation
periscope was located a central automatic firing box with dials for the speed
and distance of the target and the required angling of the torpedo. This box
was directly operated by the Executive Officer.
Two 100.43 mm guns, forward and one aft on raised platforms.
Two 36 calibre twin-mounted Breda machine guns in the free flooding aft section
of the conning tower on deck level. Each was in a water-tight shaft casing, one
port and one starboard, and the casings extended one metre above the flooring.
The guns were raised by a compressed air piston; there were two or three litres
of glycerine in the cylinders and valves of the casing as a protection against
water. The barrels of the Bredas extended about 2 metres and projected more
than one-half metre beyond the top of the conning tower. This may account for
the statement in the aerial action report that a machine gun was mounted on the
aft top of the conning tower. The prisoner insisted that no machine gun was
mounted there. Two unmounted Breda machine guns calibre were kept in reserve in
the magazine. Each gun was capable of 1,000 rounds per minute.
Four water-tight cases of machine gun ammunition for ready use were kept near
the hatch in the conning tower. Sixteen other cases were in the magazine; each
box contained eight belts of 35 shells each. Both machine guns were always
loaded. The magazine was below the plating in the control room aft of the
periscopes near the hatchway; 250 shells for the deck guns were also kept
there. Ammunition came up on a conveyor to the deck.
Two Tosi diesel engines; each six cylinders, 1,500 h.p., 350 r.p.m.
Maximum speed: 18 knots when she left the builder, 17 knots in the Red Sea, and
16 knots on Atlantic cruises.
Two Tosi electric motors, each 500 h.p.
Maximum speed: eight knots on the surface and six submerged. Builder's designed
submerged speed was eight knots, but in the Red Sea it was reduced to seven and
a half, and in the Atlantic to six.
Two electric batteries of 45 cells each, one under the Petty Officers' Quarters
and the other under the Officers' Quarters. With one generator running at 250
r.p.m. a battery was completely charged in six hours. The batteries were of the
lead-acid type, and had never caused any trouble. The prisoner had never heard
of nickel-iron-alkali batteries.
Four fuel tanks each with a capacity of 50 tons, two port and two starboard,
one at either end of the saddle tanks.
The aft hatchway section below the compartment flooring contained eight tons of
The crash-diving tank was below the control room, capacity 17 tons. This was a
new tank installed at Bordeaux in 1941 and replaced a previous one with a
capacity of 10 tons.
Two trimming tanks, one fore and the other aft of the crash-diving tank for
athwartship trim. One bow and one stern trimming tank for longitudinal trim.
Capacity of all trimming tanks, 103 tons.
One fresh water tank with a capacity of 22 tons, located between the aft
trimming tank and the aft fuel tanks.
Two electric San Giorgio air compressors, at working pressure each charged 200
litres per hour, one in the aft and the other in the forward torpedo
The pumps, electrically operated, were located beneath the control room. The
trim indicator was on the forward bulkhead of the control room. On the port
side were situated two mercury manometers for reading trim fore and aft. A
handle was pulled to ascertain the boat's setting before trimming.
The horizontal rudders were electrically operated by levers on the starboard
side of the control room. The vertical rudder was also electrically operated on
the port side of the conning tower. The hand emergency rudder wheel was located
on the starboard side of the aft torpedo compartment.
A short wave receiving and transmitting set of Italian make in a cabin on the
port side of the communications room. Access was forbidden to all except the
radiomen and officers. Receiving set had a range of 3/4,000 miles. Operated on
a four metre wave length to Betasom (Bordeaux) and on a three metre wave length
Watches: from 0400 to 0800 for Rome, from 2000 to 2400 for Betasom. Watch was kept
at all times; each radio rating was "on" for four hours and
"off" for four hours.
RADIO DIRECTION FINDER.
A "radiogoniometre" of Italian make. Functioned very well.
Not fitted. But the prisoner had heard that upon return from the last cruise a
German set would have been installed.
A San Giorgio set in a booth on forward starboard side of the communications
room. Had a range of 3/4000 metres, and functioned well. Sottocapo R.T.
Vicentini, Sottocapo R.T. Calasso and R.T. Scelto Sladizari stood the
The Spada apparatus had been fitted during peace cruises. It proved too noisy
on war cruises and was removed early 1942.
A Pirelli electric sounding apparatus, located near the hatch in the control
room. Effective to a depth of 250 metres. A radio rating handled it.
One small instrument with markings from 1 to 30 metres. One large instrument
with markings from 5 to 150 metres.
Two periscopes, one forward for attack, the other aft for observation. The
attack periscope was operated in the conning tower; the Captain had a saddle
mounted on the periscope. The observation periscope was used in the control
room without the benefit of saddle comfort. The attack periscope could be
elevated several metres higher than the other one. The motor for the elevation
and depression of both periscopes had a pinion, driving a rack on the shafts.
The periscope depth for attack was 11 metres.
A microphone was located near the commander's seat at the attack periscope,
another was located up on the conning tower platform. These by loudspeaker
system were clearly audible in all compartments of the boat except in the
Communication with other submarines was difficult probably because the
operators were inexperienced or the equipment was inadequate.
Inter-communication was carried on by means of a short wave set within a
certain frequency band which the prisoner did not know.
VENTS AND BLOWS.
To surface, air was admitted at sea pressure into the flooded tanks. These were
then emptied by electric pumps. The air valves connected with these pumps were
located in the forward control room, port and starboard.
Three hatchways, one between the forward torpedo compartment and the
communications room, the second in the control room aft of the periscopes, and
the third between the auxiliary room and the aft torpedo compartment. The
forward and aft hatchways were also escape chambers. In the section of the
forward hatchway below the compartment flooring were kept fresh stores. The
same section of the aft hatchway was used for a deposit of lubricating oil. The
compression shaft for escape lung exercises had been removed before starting
any Atlantic cruises. The control room hatchway led up into the conning tower
room aft of the periscopes and the commander's and helmsman's seats. Then a
ladder led up to the conning tower platform.
In the acceptance trials off Taranto she went to a depth of 150 metres without
difficulty or ill effects. In October 1941, when depth-charged off Gibraltar,
she remained successfully for many hours at a depth of 140/150 metres.
Her pressure hull plates were 50 mm thick, and the outer hull plates were of
the same thickness.
On her arrival at Bordeaux from Massawa the after section of the conning tower
was removed and the after conning tower fairing was curved like that of many
German boats. The remaining after section was opened to the sky, and within it
were the two water-tight shafts for the Breda guns. The ladder was removed from
the center of the after conning tower and replaced with one to starboard and
one to port of the abaft conning tower.
The prisoner recognized the picture of the Archimede
Class submarine in O.N.I. - 202 and stated that his boat resembled it. It
differs from his boat because it has a line of free flooding openings above the
saddle tanks as well as a line of openings slightly below deck level. His boat
had only the latter openings.
From the forward antenna post (two metres high) stretched two antenna wires to
arms on the port and starboard sides of the conning tower platform, thence to
the after antenna post and ended on the stern.
A net cutter was fitted on the bow from the keel to a post on the forward deck.
The prisoner insisted that all electrical equipment on his boat was of Italian
manufacture. But he admitted that the watch binoculars were of German make and
gave excellent performance. These had replaced Italian binoculars which were
"good only for a theatre."
Chapter XIII. OTHER SUBMARINES
I. Location of Italian Submarine Flotilla Based on Bordeaux (as of 15 February,
Archimede, Bagnolini and Da Vinci
left Bordeaux on 14 February, 1943, but Archimede
had trouble with her electric motors, returned to Bordeaux, and left on the
next day for her final cruise. All three were bound for different zones for 4
Barbarigo was in the large Dry Dock
No. 1 of Basin I.
Cagni had arrived at Bordeaux early
February 1943, from a 4 months' cruise to the Orient. Tied up at quay on south
side of Basin I.
Cappellini had left Bordeaux about 15
January, 1943, for a 60 days' cruise.
Finzi was tied up at the quay on the
south side of Basin I.
Giuliani was in the small Dry Dock
No. 2 of Basin I.
Tazzoli was tied up at the quay on
the south side of Basin I.
Torelli was tied up in front of the
naval refectory on the north side of Basin I, waiting to go into small Dry Dock
II. Various Submarines and Commanders.
Bagnolini had a new commander, a
Tenente di Vascello, in February 1943, but the prisoner did not know his name.
Barbarigo's maximum cruising
endurance was given as 50/60 days. Her commander in February 1943, was Tenente
de Vascello Roberto Rigoli.
Cagni had two commanders for her four
months' cruise to the Orient: Capitano di Fregata Carlo Liannazza and Capitano
di Corvette Giuseppe Roselli Lorenzini. The latter assumed complete command on
her arrival at Bordeaux in February 1943; Liannazza returned overland to Italy.
During this cruise she sank only one merchant ship. She had left Taranto early
October 1942; the prisoner doubted that she had carried a cargo. She had gone
to Japan or Japanese territory, possibly Singapore. She had refueled at a
Japanese port. The prisoner stated without any confirmation that a month later
she was back in Bordeaux. Her maximum speed is 22 knots. She carries 32
torpedoes and has 16 tubes, 10 forward and six aft.
Cappellini was given a new commander,
Tenente di Vascello (name unknown), for her cruise in January 1943. The
prisoner heard at Bordeaux that a previous commander, Capitano di Corvetta
Salvadore Todaro had been killed in the Mediterranean.
Da Vinci has made two cruises under
Tenente di Vascello Gianfranco Gazzana since he left Archimede in August, 1942. On his first cruise he took Da Vinci to La Pallice for trails in
launching and recovering a midget submarine. The trials were unsuccessful
because Da Vinci's antenna and the
conning tower were damaged several times. So the venture was abandoned after
several days. Her forward deck gun had been removed for the trials, and she
left without this gun on a four months' cruise. On her return in late December
1942/early January 1943, Gazzana was credited with sinking six merchant ships.
Her crew was given 40 days' leave.
Ferraris, the prisoner has heard,
sank one merchantman and one destroyer during December 1940.
Finzi was commanded by Capitano di
Corvetta Antonio de Giacomo in February 1943. She has a maximum cruising
endurance of four months.
Giuliani was at Gotenhafen during
1941 and part of 1942 as a school boat for Italian submarine personnel. During
the aerial attack on her in the Bay of Biscay September 1942, her commander's
throat was badly slashed by fragments and her Executive Officer had to assume
command. She then tool refuge in Santander, but later escaped and returned to
Bordeaux. She went out in December 1942, on a 60 days' cruise, sinking only one
ship and returning early February 1943.
Tazzoli with Capitano di Fregata
Carlo Fecia di Cossato came into Bordeaux early February 1943, after a four
months' cruise during which she had sunk four merchant vessels. At the
beginning of the cruise she downed a plane in the Bay of Biscay. Her maximum cruising
endurance is four months.
Torelli was commanded by a Capitano
di Corvetta (name unknown to the prisoner) in February 1943. Twenty days before
the Giulaiani [sic] action she had
been hit by aircraft bombs in the Bay of Biscay, went into a Spanish port,
escaped and returned to Bordeaux. During the attack she had gone to a depth of
180 meters according to claims of her crew. At Bordeaux an unexploded bomb
under her deck flooring was removed.
III. Submarine Devices.
Barbarigo: Skull and cross bones like
the Death's Head device on several German U-boats, painted on the port side of
the conning tower. According to the prisoner this device was adopted after the
much-publicized sinking of two American battleships.
Cappellini: A man in flowing
cavalier's cloak with a sword held in his right hand across his chest to the
left shoulder, painted on the port side of the conning tower.
Tazzoli: A daisy painted on the port
side of the conning tower. The prisoner claimed that he saw eight German
U-boats at La Pallice, all with skull and cross bones device painted on the
conning tower. (O.N.I. Note: The U-576
and U-752 are known to have this
Chapter XIV. SUBMARINE TACTICS
The forward and aft hatchways of Italian submarines are kept closed during
Atlantic cruises. The Italians based at Bordeaux operate off Fernando de
Noronha, Recife, Bahia and Freetown. The Atlantic cruises during 1942 varied
from 20 to 60 days. But since the end of 1942 they are generally of four
months' duration. During 1942 the trip from Le Verdon through the Bay of Biscay
was made entirely on the surface day and night. But in 1943 it has become a
risky trip of 7 days' duration including the first with destroyer and plane
escort. The British planes cover the Bay "like and umbrella" so that
it is commonly called "the graveyard of submarines". The trip is made
submerged from 0800 to 2000, and on the surface from 2000 to 0800.
On Archimede officers stood watch for
four hours and were "off" for 12 hours. The officers had a seat
between the two periscopes on the conning tower platform. The ratings stood
watch for four hours each; each of the four ratings on watch was assigned a
quarter as his sector.
The prisoner claimed that during his last six months at Bordeaux all Italian
submarines were embarking four Naples magnetic torpedoes.
Chapter XV. SUBMARINE BASES
When the prisoner arrived in Bordeaux June 1941, there were 42 Italian
submarines at this base, including the four from East Africa. Thirteen were
sunk later and nineteen returned to Mediterranean bases. In October 1941 there
were 20 Italian submarines at this base. In April 1942 only 10 remained: Archimede, Tazzoli, Barbarigo, Da Vinci, Cappellini, Finzi, Bagnolini, Giuliani, Torelli and Cagni. These used Basin I.
The prisoner claimed that there had been no German U-boats based at Bordeaux
from June 1941 to February 1943. Shortly before 15 February, 1943, two German
U-boats of 800 tons, he said, came into Basin II for repairs.
Behind the quay of Basin I there were workshops for the Italians only. The
German workshops are alongside Basin II. There are two barracks for German
workers on the north side of Basin II.
In December 1942 the location of the deperming range was changed to the
entrance between the two basins; it was previously in the upper end of Basin I.
Both Italian and German boats are depermed on the same range, which is always
operated by German personnel. The prisoner claimed that deperming required one
or two days and in the case of one boat three days. New locks were being
constructed February 1943, to the right of the old ones; the channel is 100
metres wide and separated from the old channel by a bank only two metres wide.
The swing bridge between the two basins opens into Basin II. The bunkers in
Basin II were under construction February 1943 and only the walls had been
completed. The Italian administrative offices (one for each of the 10
submarines) are located on the left of the entrance to Basin I. On the opposite
bank of the Garonne from the basins were tied up three German destroyers and
three German freighters. The ex-French cruiser De Grasse was berthed near the new German barracks. It was formerly
used by Italian officers and petty officers, but six months prior to the
prisoner's last cruise it was taken over by the Germans. The prisoner thought
that it was being used as a depot ship for German officers. The blockade runner
Himalaya was tied up in Basin II.
Submarine parts for the Italian workshops were brought to Basin I from La
Italian submarine crews lived at a camp near Gradigna (phonetic), distant one
quarter of an hour by bus from the base. To reach this place the road along the
river was followed downstream and then a bridge was crossed. Trips were made in
new Fiat busses with a capacity of 25 passengers. By tram it was a 10 minute
trip from the base to Place Gambetts. The "Brothel Bar" or
"Plati" opposite the tram stop in Place Gambetta was a very popular
place with both Italians and Germans. French and Spanish girls were met here,
given "the once over", and then taken to inns. On leaving
"Plati" and turning left for one block and then right for one half
block, one may find brothels 14, 12 and 20 open to Germans and Italians for the
slight consideration of 60 francs a session. Brothels 1 to 10 are located at
the end of the street to the left of "Plati"; these are available for
the French as well as Germans and Italians at 50 francs a "throw".
There are four officers' brothels in the vicinity of "Plati", mostly
for Germans. The Italian officers prefer private hotel rooms for amorous
diversion. "Moulin Rouge" is brothel 10, and is the scene of frequent
fights between Germans and Italians. Brothels 14 and 20 are frequented mostly
by Italians. The prisoner claimed that brothels 4 and 5 were destroyed by air
raids (love's labor lost!), and were rebuilt elsewhere. The prisoner stated
that almost all the Italians at the base suffered from "il male
francese" (venereal disease).
Prisoner said that there were about 300 marines of the San Marco Battalion at
the base. They wore a green shirt and green trousers that were very wide around
the thighs. Their green beret had as its insignia the lion of San Marco. Guard
duties and the security of the base were their principal assignments.
According to the prisoner Capitano di Vascello Enzo Grossi (of American
battleship fame!) replaced Contrammiraglio Polacchini as Commander of the
Italian base in January 1943. In February it was rumored that Grossi would
shortly be promoted to Contrammiraglio. (O.N.I. Note: A picture of Grossi in Il
Messagero of 11 June, 1943, shows him still as a Capitano di Vascello.)
Capitano di Corvetta Giuseppe Caridi, second in command of the base under
Polacchini and also Flotilla Commander, has remained the same under Grossi.
This has caused a very embarrassing situation. Caridi, formerly a senior
officer, now finds himself an aide to Grossi. The two do not speak to each
other. Caridi received Grossi's promotion very badly and is resentful, as also
are many navy career officers. Grossi "jumped" 15 senior officers
when he was made CdV and C.O. of Betasom. The prisoner thought that Grossi was
becoming "grosso" (bog) simply through Fascist influence. To cap it
all, the prisoner stated that after his second claimed sinking of an American battleship
in September 1942 a monument was erected in honor of Grossi and his Barbarigo
below the entrance to the basins on the upstream side. The base is of stone in
which are inscribed Grossi's name and his two claims of sinking American
battleships. Above the base extends a slenderized wooden version of the conning
tower of Barbarigo. The entire monument is about 50 metres high. All Italian
submarines leaving the base turn their prows to the monument and salute it.
The roofs of the bunkers have a thickness of four metres of reinforced
concrete. Early February 1943 the prisoner saw two German U-boats outside the
bunkers and six inside. One U-boat was going out on a cruise.
After leaving Bordeaux Italian submarines put into La Pallice for a final check
over, especially for oil leaks, and then make some practice crash dives. On one
occasion the prisoner's boat tied up in front of the bunkers for two days
because she was too long and had too much draft to go into the one empty
bunker, a dry one. The Italian submarine personnel formerly lived in barracks
alongside the north of the basin. In December 1942 two new barracks to the
north of the basin were built for them. When the old barracks were used, the
officers were quartered separately; now they are with their men. German ratings
frequently came aboard the prisoner's boat and were surprised to find that the
Italian Diesels were much lower than the German type.
At the entrance to the harbor are located six balloons, three anchored on each
The prisoner left this training base in early January 1942. While here he lived
in the barracks opposite the island. He heard shortly after he had left that
the Germans had taken over these barracks and that the Italians were moved to a
depot ship in the Kaiserhafen. When weather permitted, the Italians made trips
on submarines for torpedo firing and Asdic practice, generally with German
destroyers at night. Five or six German U-boats were being repaired at the quay
below the island and on the same side as the barracks. The prisoner knew of no
prisoner of war camp in the vicinity of the barracks.
Chapter XVI. GERMAN SUPPLY SHIP
About noon on 18 or 19 May, 1941, the awaited German ship, which the prisoner
insisted was an auxiliary cruiser, was seen approaching 45° off the starboard
bow (with Archimede facing south).
The ship's captain was uneasy because he had been attacked by aircraft the day
before; he therefore requested that the submarines move three or four miles
After tying up, Archimede sent her
German passenger by the supply ship's motor launch to arrange refueling. Steel
hawsers with a long iron shield protecting the two hoses were extended from the
ship's stern to Archimede's bow. One
hose was used for fuel oil, the other for fresh water; both were 100 mm. in
diameter. The transfer of 100 tons of fuel and 12 tons of lubricating oil,
beginning in the afternoon was completed at 2400. Prisoner stated that after
about 50 tons of fuel had been taken on, his engineer officer protested to the
Germans that the fuel oil was too light for Archimede's
engines. The transfer was halted, and after some discussion the Germans mixed
fuel oil with German Diesel oil in order to furnish a much heavier fuel. During
the transfer she was towed slowly while her own electric motors operated at low
speed. Once or twice pressure caused leaks in the hose connections; and two
Germans in blue shirts, who had come aboard, sealed the leaks. Archimede was also given fresh water and
food supplies. During this operation twenty 20-liter cans of lubricating oil
were taken to Guglielmotti in rubber
boats. Half of Archimede's crew went
aboard the German ship to clean up and eat. A hose was extended to the deck of
the submarine so that the others could take a shower. The sea was calm in the
afternoon, a slight sea was running at night. There was a temperate sun during
the day, but at night the men used their rough-weather winter outfits because
of the cold.
The prisoner described the German vessel as an auxiliary cruiser of about
10,000 tons, painted gray, two masts with crow's nests one forward and one aft
with two funnels amidships. Loading cranes extended from the forward mast, and
from the after mast flew the German flag. The prisoner saw two large guns
forward on a raised platform. Several guns were concealed aft under canvas.
Prisoner heard that there were also machine guns on the ship's bridge. On the
stern were painted the letters SANT; the prisoner heard her name given as
Santieco (phonetic). The prisoner heard later at Bordeaux that this German
auxiliary cruiser had been sunk in the Atlantic. (O.N.I. Note: It is impossible
to identify positively the German ship involved in the refueling. The best
case, according to available information, may be made out for Raider 16.* She
was in these waters during this period; her description fits fairly well with
the vague one given by the prisoner; she was known to have encountered two or
three "French" submarines in the Mozambique Channel in early March
1941, and Raider 16 was sunk 22 November, 1941. The name used by the auxiliary
cruiser at the time, however, was one resembling San Diego, posing as an
American ship. The German tanker Nordmark,
which frequently posed as the American ship Dixie, is a possibility, although
the prisoner stated definitely that the refueling ship was not a tanker.)
* Also called Atlantis, Tamesis, Goldenfels, etc. See C.B. 4051 (29), pages
Chapter XVII. RELATIONS WITH GERMANS
The prisoner stated that the Germans and the Italians in Bordeaux were almost
constantly fighting. In one instance in December 1942, at 14 Place Gambetta, 11
Germans and 10 Italian marines of the San Marco Battalion had considerable
fighting over some women. The result of it was that the Italians killed one and
sent four to the hospital. The Germans were drunk and insulted the Italians.
The Germans were nearly always drunk, officers and men alike. There was a fight
between the Germans and the Italians almost every night in brothels 10, 12, 14
The situation got so bad that Italian armed guards had to patrol the streets to
defend Italian sailors. In rare cases the German authorities actually tried to
get the culprits, who were Germans, and sometimes penalized these Germans by
sending them to the Russian front, but in many cases the authorities just tried
to hush matters up as quietly as possible.
Most of the German junior officers were always in bars or brothels. The higher
officers reportedly had the wine and women sent up to their rooms. The venereal
disease rate was higher among the Germans than among the Italians. (O.N.I.
Note: All other evidence points to the contrary.) The brothel girls used to
tell the prisoner that there was considerable sexual activity between French
and German men. Moreover, the Bordeaux girls complained that the German sailors
took too much time in intercourse. They preferred the Italians, who were
faster, because they could then have more customers. All Italian submarine men
were given "short arm" inspection each day by junior officers before
entering the barracks.
The Germans took over private houses in Bordeaux for their officers and men,
while the Italians were quartered in less commodious wooden buildings out of
the city. Italian officers had been living aboard the uncompleted ex-French
cruiser De Grasse until the Germans
forced them to move out on the pretext that the ship was going to be placed in
sea service, after which the Germans themselves moved into it. The Italian
officers then moved to the wooden barracks outside the city. The prisoner had
heard that the food the Germans and Italians ate was equal in quality but that
the Germans got it in larger quantities.
At the time of his leaving Bordeaux the prisoner came in contact daily with 3
or 4,000 Germans, and he believed that there was a total of 5 to 6,000 of them
in the city.
On several occasions he was at La Pallice. He said it was absolutely forbidden
for Italians to walk with or talk to Germans there. (O.N.I. Note: He did not
say whether this was a German or an Italian ruling.) Once while his boat was
there two German officers attempted to come aboard for an inspection; his
captain forbade them to do so in reciprocation for similar German treatment.
He spent several months in training at Danzig during the winter of 1941/1942.
There was a group of 200 Italians training there, with Italian instructors;
they were completely separated from the Germans in all ways so that no
incidents would ensue. He thinks that his was the last group of Italians to be
sent there. It took him 24 hours to make a non-stop trip to Danzig; that is,
non-stop except for getting out at one unidentified place, from 8 to 12 hours
out of Bordeaux, and walking across a wooden bridge over an air-bomb crater in
the roadbed to another train waiting on the other side.
The prisoner was last in Palermo, his home town, in May 1942. While he was
there, two German soldiers of an encampment of over 2,000 were killed by
Italians after they had gone into a restaurant and refused to pay for their
meal. On another occasion one of his crewmates was walking with his fiancee on
the streets of his home town, Rome, and a passing German soldier winked at her.
A fight ensued and as a result his friend almost lost his liberty privileges.
In Bordeaux the Italians got provisions from the Germans obviously of Italian
origin -- macaroni, edible oils, sardines, and salami. They were told that they
were German products, but they were actually Italian with only the German stamp
upon them. Why these provisions should come to them from Italy through the
Germans and not directly was always somewhat of a mystery to them.
In Bordeaux the prisoner saw numerous German Kriegshelferinnen in uniform; they
were working only in offices.
He summed up the Italian-German situation by saying that the Italian affection
for the Germans is such that they can hardly tolerate them and do not want to
see them. Italian soldiers are waiting for the end of this war only so that can
go into another war against the Germans. Ant number would volunteer for such duty,
and of course on orders none of them would hesitate to fight the Germans. He
thought it quite likely that the Italian soldiery would turn against the
Germans at the height of the Allied attack. Sicily want America to come in and
"get it over with" quickly.
Chapter XVIII. MISCELLANEOUS
TRIP TO PALERMO
The prisoner made his last trip to Italy in May 1942. He went by train from
Bordeaux to Millan where he had to make arrangements with the Italian Consul,
then to Manaco, up through Switzerland and Austria to Innsbruck (no passenger
trains were allowed via Ventimiglia), across the Bremer Pass, down through
Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples and Messina to his home in Palermo. He saw many
German troops throughout Italy, especially at Messina. There were also many at
Monaco. It seemed to be the policy to keep the Italian and German troops in
different places and not in the same immediate vicinity.
The prisoner found conditions in Palermo very good except that prices of food
and other necessities were very high. The black market was flourishing and
enriching the "contrabbandiere". In the city he saw two companies (of
150 men each) of Italian troops. A large number of coast defense personnel,
about two thousand, divided between two Military Maritime Commands, were posted
to guard the harbour. The superior officers of these commands lived in the
Albergo di Santa Rosalia overlooking the harbour. Four or five warships were in
the harbour. There was some shipbuilding going on in the two shipyards located
off the northern shore of La Cala on the extreme left of the main harbour.
These shipyards are very small, each has two building slips and launches two
ships every ten months. These ships are escort vessels, usually well-armed and
designed also to carry cargo. They are of about two or three thousand tons
Before leaving Bordeaux on his final cruise the prisoner was told by an Italian
doctor originally from Palermo that their native city had been "knocked
out" by an air raid and that most of the population was evacuated to
Corleone and Porticello.
Unsuccessful trials were held at La Pallice in September 1942 on the Da Vinci with a midget submarine which
the prisoner called a "C.P." This was described as 6 or 7 metres
long., designed to carry one engineer officer and 3 Marescialli Palombari
(divers) within the boat. Two torpedoes were carried beneath the keel which
could be released by leavers inside the "C.P.". The divers would
leave the boat and attach time bombs to the keels of enemy ships. The maximum
diving depth of the midget submarine was 40 metres. The prisoner did not know
its intended mission.
Capitano di Fregata Borghese, head of the "Shock-Unit" School at La
Spezia, supervised the trials. Da Vinci's
forward deck gun was removed to accommodate the midget submarine. The trials
lasted several days during which Da Vinci
would submerge, release her "baby" and then attempt to come up under
the midget submarine recover it on her forward deck. But many mishaps occurred;
the antenna wires of Gazzana's boat were repeatedly cut, and the forward
section of the conning tower was damaged. Borghese finally decided to give up
the trials and shipped the midget submarine back to Italy.
RANKS AND RATINGS.
According to the prisoner the hierarchy of enlisted men in the Italian
submarine service is as follows:
Maresciallo IIIa classe
Maresciallo IIa classe
Maresciallo Ia classe
The Maresciallo IIIa classe may, after specialized schooling, receive a commission
as Guardiamarina (Ensign).
The prisoner said that it was usual on his boat to listen to broadcasts from
non-axis stations at noon-time until late evening. Both short and long wave
stations were heard. But the news bulletin issued every night was the official
Annex A. LIST OF CREW OF ARCHIMEDE
Tenente di Vascello
Zuliani, Alberto (?) [Suriano, Ennio]
Tenente di Vascello
Magnani, Tommaso [Magnano, Adolfo]
Sottotenente di Vascello (di complemento)
Lieutenant (j.g.) (Reserve)
Ferrari, Lorenzo [Firrao, Franco]
Tenente [in realtà capitano] Direzione Macchine (di complemento)
Lieut. (j.g.) (engineering duties only) (Reserve)
Sottotenente [in realtà tenente] Direzione Macchine (di complemento)
Ensign (engineering duties only) (Reserve)
Boeschi, [Boteschi, Camillo]
Sottotenente Direzione Macchine
Ensign (engineering duties only)
Greppi, Franco (?) [Greppi, Carlo]
Alicata, [La Licata, Diego]
Guardiamarina [sottotenente GN]
Sandri, [Sandrin, Italo]
Aspirants [in realtà guardiamarina]
Ruggiero, [Ruggeri, Silvio]
Maresciallo la classe [in realtà capo di III classe] Elettricista
Maresciallo Capo [in realtà capo di II classe] Radio Telegrafista
Capo [di II classe] Nostromo
Chief Boatswain's Mate
Secondo Capo di Macchine
Machinist's Mate, 1 cl.
Resoni, [Rissone, Egidio]
Secondo Capo [in realtà capo di III classe] di Macchine
Machinist's Mate, 1 cl.
Losavio, [Lo Savio, Emanuele]
Secondo Capo Elettricista
Electrician's Mate, 1cl.
Radi, [Radin, Silvestro]
Secondo Capo Silurista
Torpedoman's Mate, 1cl.
Gunner's Mate, 2cl.
Torpedoman's Mate, 2cl.
Buffo, [Buffon, Aldo]
Sergente [in realtà capo di II classe] Silurista
Torpedoman's Mate, 2cl.
Cantiere, [Galtieri, Alfredo]
Motor Machinist's Mate, 2cl.
Mantelli, [Mandelli, Pietro]
Electrician's Mate, 2cl.
Santalamazza, Ardo [Santolamazza, Aldo]
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente] Silurista
Torpedoman's Mate, 3cl.
Torpedoman's Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente] Elettricista
Electrician's Mate, 3cl.
Dellaguida, [Dell’Aquila, Vincenzo]
Electrician's Mate, 3cl.
Vallesi, [Vallese, Angelo]
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente] Motorista
Motor Machinist's Mate 3cl.
Votero [Vottero], Ludovico
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente] Motorista
Motor Machinist's Mate 3cl.
Gunner's Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente] Cannoniere
Gunner's Mate, 3cl.
Calasso, [Galasso, Alfredo]
Sottocapo Radio Telegrafista
Vincentini, [Visentini, Tommaso]
Sottocapo Radio Telegrafista
*Lococo [Lo Coco], Giuseppe
Cameti, [Conti, Guido]
Sottocapo [in realtà comune]
Petty officer, 3cl.
Capece, [Capace, Giuseppe]
Sottocapo [in realtà sergente]
Petty officer, 3cl.
Petty officer, 3cl.
[Sottocapo] Silurista Scelto
Cerosi [Cerosio, Giovanni]
Radio Telegrafista Scelto
Battista, [Abbattista, Ruggiero]
Maurielli [Mauriello, Antonio]
Olivi, [Ulivi, Dino]
Hospital Apprentice, 2cl.
Comete, [Cometa, Cosimo]
Captain's orderly (translation)
Pigotti, [Pigozzo, Pierino]
Vespini, [Vesprini, Nello]
De Simone, [Giovanni]
Rubaoto, [Rubaudo, Nino]
Previero, [Priviero, Sergio]
De Cesaro, [De Cesario, Cosimo]
Castelici, [Castellotti, Luigi]
Marinaio [in realtà sottocapo]
* Presumably sole survivor, and sole prisoner.
Prisoner could not recall the name.
TOTAL CREW OF ARCHIMEDE
La dichiarazione resa il 26
ottobre 1946 da Giuseppe Lo Coco, nato a S. Flavia il 28.2.1918, alla Stazione
di Porticello della Legione territoriale dei Carabinieri di Palermo (per
gentile concessione dell’Associazione Nazionale Marinai d’Italia):
"Facevo parte dell’equipaggio del
Sommergibile Archimede composto di 60 uomini. Durante una missione di
guerra nell’Atlantico, appena giunti all’altezza dell’isola di San Fernando di
Norona e precisamente a 150 miglia dalla costa, alle ore 21,40 del 15 aprile
1943 il nostro sottomarino navigante in emersione venne attaccato da quattro
aerei di bombardamento americani e colpito da diverse bombe si affondò in poco
più di dieci minuti. Solo 19 uomini potemmo buttarci in mare, mentre
i due ufficiali di macchina con il resto di trentanove uomini, dei quali non
sono in grado di precisare i nomi, scomparvero in mare con tutta l’unità... Nel
momento in cui il sommergibile affondava, gli stessi aerei ci sottoposero a
delle nutrite raffiche di mitragliatrici in seguito alle quali uno dei
diciannove naufraghi, di cui non conosco le generalità, è deceduto. Dopo aver
effettuato il mitragliamento gli apparecchi medesimi ci lanciarono due battelli
di gomma muniti di quattro remi ciascuno, sui quali ci collocammo nove uomini
per ogni battello... Cercammo invano di dirigerci verso la costa, poiché le
correnti ci trasportavano sempre più a largo. Eravamo tutti completamente nudi,
privi di forze e senza viveri. Per venti giorni entrambi i battelli navigarono
insieme per le infinite distese del mare, quando nel predetto ventesimo giorno
verso le ore 13, avvistammo un piroscafo transitante a circa tre
miglia da noi. Il secondo battello mosse decisamente all’incontro di detto
piroscafo con la speranza di essere scorti e presi a bordo. Abbiamo però notato
che la nave si allontanava velocemente dalla nostra vista percorrendo la sua
rotta e così anche il battello che si era spinto all’incontro scompariva all’orizzonte
senza sapere più nulla della sua sorte.
Al ventunesimo giorno sono decedute due
persone, al ventiduesimo sono deceduti altri tre ed al ventiquattresimo altri
due. I morti furono da me buttati in acqua. Siamo rimasti così solo io e il
sottocapo La Mazza Santo [si
trattava del sergente Aldo Santolamazza],
distesi in fondo al battello, privi di sensi. Al ventiseiesimo giorno di
navigazione il mio battello fu recuperato da pescatori brasiliani e fui
condotto nell’isola di S. Paolo ove presi la conoscenza dopo quattro giorni.
Seppi così che anche il sottocapo La Mazza, fu trovato cadavere a bordo del
battello e fu sepolto nel cimitero di S. Paolo.
Durante la mia prigionia a New York, malgrado
il mio interessamento non mi fu possibile conoscere quale sorte toccò ai nove
uomini del secondo battello né seppi se furono recuperati eventualmente
cadaveri appartenenti ai quarantuno uomini che si inabissarono col
sommergibile Archimede. Comunque sono convinto che anche i nove uomini del
secondo battello sono tutti periti per la fame e la sete dopo qualche giorno
dal loro allontanamento dal mio battello, mentre per i quarantuno uomini
affondati con l’unità posso in modo certo affermare la loro morte per
L’analisi, da parte
americana, dell’attacco aereo contro l’Archimede,
per gentile concessione di Jerry Mason:
ANALYSIS OF ANTI-SUBMARINE ACTION BY AIRCRAFT
Unit VP-83 Unit Report NO. 14.
Airplane Type: PBY-SA.
Squadron NO.: 83-P-12
Pilot Lieut G. Bradford USNR.
Location of Attack -- Latitude: 03-23 s.
Longitude so-2s W.
Date: April 15: 1943.
Time: 1620. (Z0118 Plus P)
1. The airplane was flying at 1500 feet
following homing signals which were being transmitted by another plane of the
squadron [ossia quello di Thurmond Robertson] which was contact with
a submarine it had previously attacked. At a range of 8 miles the Submarine was
sighted fully surfaced but down by the stern with its after deck awash. Course
was altered to permit an attack from astern. The attack was delivered from an
altitude ofabout 50 to 100 feet at the ground speed of 125 knots and target
angle approximately 210°. Four Mark 44 depth bombs fitted with flat nose
attachments were released by intervalometer set for 65 foot spacing at 130
knots. Mark 24-1 fuses were installed and set to function at 25 feet. Two of
the bombs fitted with Mark 19 nose fuses, as the assigned mission was
"anti-blockade runner sweep". The explosions were observed to occur
along the port quarter and probably bracketing the hull of the submarine just
abaft the conning tower. The submarine and airplane exchanged gunfire
throughout the attack and during the four subsequent strafing runs. The enemy
did not cease firing until his conning tower slipped beneath the surface.
Following the explosions the submarine settled gradually by the stern, and its
bow came up out of the water until it protruded at an angle of about 50°. It
then slid slowly downward and backward until it disappeared completely about
six minutes after the explosions occurred. A considerable quantity of heavy
brown oil and approximately thirty or forty survivors remained on the surface
following the disappearance of the submarine. One large burst of bubbles
appeared as the bow of the submarine slid under. No debris was sighted. The
plane remained in the for 10 minutes following this attack, during
which time it dropped life rafts to the survivors in the water. It then
departed for base, having reached PLE."
Io esule capodistriano, mi sono emozionato alla scoperta della fine del mio concittadino Italo Sandrin (erroneamente citato Sandrini). E' un fatto sconosciuto a tutti i miei concittadinie che cercherò di far conoscere.RispondiElimina
La ringrazio. Correggo il cognom...Elimina
Lorenzo il sitoRispondiElimina
questo è quello funzionante:
Sì, ogni tanto i link smettono di funzionare perché i siti vengono modificati o cessano di funzionare...Elimina
Lorenzo ottimo lavoro, ma il TV Signorini si chiamava Mario (non Elio), figlio di Tito e di Fanny Becchi, nato a Roma il 12.11.1908, per l’azione in mar Rosso del 19-26 giugno 1940 ricevette una MAVM (giugno 1940).RispondiElimina