Landing Ships

Other ships were requisitioned for an operation the Government had decided on the occasion of the campaign against Greece: the Special Naval Forces were established, with the intention of landing in Corfu Island.
This mission was scrapped and study began on a landing by the Special Naval Forces against the Island of Malta, which also came to naught.

However, with that requirement in view some particular types of ships were requisitioned, such as the motorboats and steamboats owned by the Venetian company A.C.N.I.L. – i.e. those used to sail within the lagoon – and tens of Adriatic fishing boats called bragozzi.

In addition to these vessels, quite zany in view of a landing against strongly defended coasts (even if they had been somewhat modified to make them more survivable), trawlers and steam boats previously employed for coastal patrolling and minesweeping were also used. Thus, a haphazard “fleet” was put together, almost certainly unsuitable for a landing on Malta, even if manned by gallant sailors.

One of the MZ-A class motor barge built for the invasion of Malta

The Malta landing was postponed indefinitely, which was unfortunate for the ultimate outcome of the war but fortunate for those happy few who were supposed to participate in it aboard requisitioned motorboats, steamboats, and bragozzi. However, many of these vessels were in fact used in November 1942 for a relatively easier operation, i.e. the landing in Corsica. The requisitioned motorboats and steamboats remained to ply the coastal waters of Provence and were caught up in the crisis of 8 September 1943.

Translated from Italian by Sebastian De Angelis