English | Italiano Regia Marina Italiana

November 12th, 1940

by Cristiano D'Adamo

On 11th at 18:00 British cruisers left the main battle fleet (Operation M.B.8 and Taranto's Night) in the direction of the Strait of Otranto, between Italy and Albania, to intercept naval traffic. After having entered the Adriatic Sea undetected, the British force was able to detect an Italian convoy directed from Brindisi to Valona. The action took place between 1:05 and 1:50 on the 12th of November. The British squadron included the cruisers Orion, Ajax, and Sydney escorted by the Tribal class destroyers Nubian and Mohawk under the command of V.A. Sir Henry Pridham-Wippel.

The Italian convoy included the cargo ships Antonio Locatelli (5,691 t.), Premuda (4,427 t.), Capo Vado (4,391 t.) and Catalani (2,429 t.) escorted by the aging torpedo boat Fabrizi, comanded by T.V.c. Giovanni Barbini, and the auxiliary cruiser Ramb 3, commanded by C.F. Francesco De Angelis. The action was swift; once they located the Italian convoy, the British sank all Italian cargoes, despite the heroic fight put up by the Fabrizi which, in the process, was seriously damaged. Less admirable was the behavior of the Ramb 3, which, after the initial exchange of fire, quickly left the cargo ships to their destiny.

Later that day, the Italian torpedo boats Curtatone and Solferino rescued a total of 140 sailors, while the casualties totaled 36 dead and 42 wounded, including the fallen aboard the Fabrizi. Commander Barbini, for the heroic perseverance shown during the action was awarded the Gold Medal for bravery. Italian retaliation was immediate, but the Regia Aeronautica failed to locate the fleeing British fleet and the few Cants which eventually located the British ships were quickly shot down.

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