Adapted from the newsletter of the Italian Navy
dated January 1977
Admiral Angelo Jachino was born in Sanremo (not too far from Genoa) on April 4th, 1889 and at the young age of 15 entered the Naval Academy of Leghorn. Graduated as an Ensign, in the early years of his career he participated to the conflict in Libya and World War I. He commanded the gunboat “Carlotto” in Tsien-Tsien (China) when Italy was part of the control system for the Chinese “concessions”. Later, he completed a cruise around the world at the command of the Light Cruiser Armando Diaz.
Once back in Italy with under his belt a solid professional training and command, he was quickly promoted always giving clear proof of his exceptional qualities. At the beginning of World War II, Admiral Jachino was in command of a Naval Group and in a brief period of time he was given the command of a Naval Squadron, and then the joint naval forces, which he kept until April 1943. For two and one half years, he was the protagonist of the principal Italian naval operations assuming the role of antagonist to the British Admiral Cunningham.
Admiral Jachino at the Battle of Cape Teulada
During this brief period, although in command of a naval force technically inferior, he had courage and determination guiding it in brilliant tactical actions fighting back the powerful British fleet. Revelations published in the book “Ultra Secret” by the author Winterbotham about the unfortunate and much discussed episode of Cape Matapan (in which the Italian fleet lost three heavy cruisers on March 28th, 1941) and dedicated to Enigma, the system used by the British to decipher German signals thus allowing them to know about the intentions of the Italian fleet, have generated much historical revision. Consequently, revisions in judgment have brought to surface a clearer and more authentic portrait of the figure of Admiral Jachino, highlighting his talents as a tactician, though an unlucky one.
The state funeral for Admiral Jachino.
After the war, Admiral Jachino wrote various interesting books dedicated to naval history and which have much contributed to understanding the war at sea. In these books are discussed with honesty and balance the mistakes made by the Italian Commands both in preparation and execution. In his books, amongst which should be remembered “Tramonto di una grande marina” (Sunset of a great Navy), “Gaudo and Matapan” (Gavdo and Matapan), “La sorpresa di Matapan” (The Surprise of Matapan) , he postulated that the Italian fleet found itself against a tenacious enemy in conditions of inferiority due to the inadequacy of its technical means, the lack of aircraft carriers, and the lack of cooperation with the air force, but he always exalted the heroic behaviors of both sailors and aviators.
Admiral of the Fleet Angelo Jachino died in Rome on December 3rd, 1976 at the age of 87.
Translated by Cristiano D’Adamo