R. Smg. Archimede

The Archimede was a submarine of the Brin Class.

Taranto March 5th, 1939 the launch of the Archimede
(Istituto Luce B038607)


At the beginning of the conflict, the submarine Archimede was assigned to the Italian naval base of Massawa, in Italian East Africa. The vessel, under the command of T.V. Signorini, was assigned to the first war patrol off the French colony of Djibouti. The boat left Massawa on June 19th to conduct the operation along with the costal submarine Perla. Even before the declaration of war, the vessel had experienced problems with the air conditioning system, and the assignment to this unscheduled mission caused repair work to be halted. With the mission underway, and within less than a day from departure, some of the crewmembers began experiencing illnesses; these would turn out to be similar to the ones experienced by the crews of the Perla and the Macallè. It is not known what the crew did to remedy the situation; perhaps they began using the air conditioning system less and less, but by the fourth day the apparatus had to be shut down. Several men, including two officers, experienced heat stokes, while in general more and more began showing symptoms of poisoning. Depression and loss of conscience were soon followed by loss of appetite, maniacal behaviors, euphoria, hallucinations, and finally a destructive and homicidal frenzy.

The long journey of the Italian submarines from East Africa to Bordeaux, France

In the late afternoon of the 23rd, the captain seriously considered aborting the mission when orders from the naval command moved the boat 50 miles further to the southeast. During the fatal night, four sailors lost their lives and the captain had no option but to seek refuge in the port of Assab where the vessel arrived at 8:30 AM on the 26th. Immediately after, Massaua sent the necessary replacements, including the captain and the chief engineer. The Archimede left Assab on the 3rd of July under the command of [C.C.] Lieutenant Commander Piomarta to return to Massaua where, finally, the methylchlorid (CH3Cl) was replaced with the much safer Freon. On August 31st, the vessel was once again ready to take to the sea.

The Archimede upon its arrival in Bordeaux
(Photo courtesy Erminio Bagnasco and Achille Rastelli)

During this period, Rome intercepted a British signal giving indication that a large convoy of 20 ships would be leaving Bombay to reach the Red Sea. Admiral Balsano, the commander of the Naval forces in Massaua, ordered all available units to sea, but the Archimede was not ready; this mission would be assigned to the Ferraris and the Guglielmotti. Opportunities for the Archimede came in September when the boat, along with the Guglielmotti and a group of destroyers, was assigned to patrol. During this mission the Archimede was assigned to an area between Gabel Tair and the 19th parallel north.


As should have been expected, Italian East Africa (AOI) was quickly collapsing under the thrust of British forces from Kenya from the south and the Sudan from the north. Without any possibility to receive reinforcements from the motherland, the Italian forces where destined to surrender. Expecting the fall of the naval base, the local command began working on various escape plans. One called for the Archimede to reach Kobe, in Japan, and conduct offensive actions against the enemy traffic along the route. Eventually, only surface ships were sent to Japan, while the remaining submarines were sent around Africa to the submarine base of Bordeaux, in France. The Perla, a smaller unit, left on the 1st of March, the Ferraris and Archimede followed on the 3rd, and the Guglielmotti on the 4th.

Despite the loss of four boats, the morale of the submarine personnel in Italian East Africa remained good, but physical conditions were rapidly deteriorating due to the high temperatures and debilitating humidity. The submarines ordered to Bordeaux ventured south through the Gulf of Perim, a narrowing highly patrolled by British surface units and aircrafts. The Archimede (C.C. Salvatori), the Ferraris (C.C. Piomarta), the Guglielmotti (C.F. Spagone), and the little Perla (T.V. Napp) took different routes. The larger vessels navigated between Mozambique and Madagascar, while the Perla opted to take a route east of the island. The Archimede, as well as the other submarines, received diesel fuel from the German tanker Northmark and continued the long journey without any major incident. The transfer totaled over 12,700 miles of which only less than 65 were completed while submerged, and required 65 days. The mission was completed in the utmost secrecy, but once the boats reached Bordeaux, Italian newspapers gave great coverage to the event.

After several months in port for the necessary repairs and refitting, the Archimede was once again ready for action. Still under the command of C.C. Marino Salvatori, the boat was sent along with the Cappellini to patrol the Iberian coast, while other boats covered a relatively large sector between Gibraltar and the Azores Islands. This operation, which took the boat near Cape Finisterre and Cape San Vincenzo, did not produce results, mostly due to the complete absence of enemy shipping, but caused the loss of the Baracca , and the Malaspina.

Admiral Parona, the head of Betasom, congratulates Commander Marino
(photo U.S.M.M.)

Following this mission, the Archimede was ordered back to the Mediterranean. Still under C.C. Salvatori, the Archimede left Bordeaux and reached the Strait of Gibraltar where, on October 23rd, 1941 it was ordered to attack a convoy. Thereafter, the transfer order was rescinded, and the boat remained with Betasom for the remainder of its operational life. During this mission, the Archimede and the Marconi sought the convoy signaled by their command, and the latter was able to make contact on October 26th. Two days later the Marconi sent the last signal, and then all traces of the vessel were lost. Eventually, 48 hours later, the Archimede interrupted the search for this convoy and returned to base. Also lost during this mission was the submarine Ferraris, which had succumbed to the destroyer H.M.S. Lamerton after an unequal fight with the deck gun.


After a long refitting period, the Archimede was transferred to the command of T.V. Gianfranco Gazzana Prioroggia, the Italian submarine commander who would achieve the greatest total tonnage sunk and second only to Carlo Fecia di Cossato for the total number of sinkings. The subsequent mission took the Archimede off the coast of Brazil. Departure took place between the end of April and the beginning of May, and the boat reached the assigned area on May 23rd; three days after the Bagnolini, the same day as the Cappellini and almost a week after the Barbarigo, which would be involved in the famous affair of the first mysterious sinking of an American battleship. During the transfer, on May 13th, the Archimede intercepted a signal from the Bagnolini north of Cereà (Brazil), but could not locate the vessel previously spotted. Upon reaching the final area, the Archimede intercepted in position 2º10’S, 35º55’’W a cargo ship ablaze escorted by surface units, thought to be destroyers of the “Maury” or “Somers” classes. In reality, it was the destroyer Moffett of the ‘Porter’ class. Captain Gazzana Priaroggia fired two torpedoes and heard two explosions, but it appears that the weapons never reached their target. Soon after, he was the object of a prolonged hunt. He wrote

As a result of these attacks, the Archimede began leaking diesel fuel from the hull, making it easy to spot. Betasom relocated the Archimede further north, where a new sighting could not be followed by a pursuit. Eventually, the boat used up all the fuel reserve available and began the return voyage, but on the 15th it intercepted and attacked the American ‘Colombian’, a ship of 4,954 tons, which avoided the torpedoes. The same day, the Archimede had intercepted and sunk another ship, the 5,586 t. Panamanian freighter ‘Cardina’. The ship was in service to the United States, and the U.S. Merchant Marine did not report any casualty. Continuing on, on June 27, while near the Azores, the Archimede intercepted a large convoy escorted by several surface units that could not be attacked due to the distance and direction of the ships. The boat returned to base in Bordeaux on July 4th after another long but not fruitless mission.

The following mission took place in the month of October. The Archimede, now under the command of T.V. Guido Saccardo, was tasked with refueling the Cappellini at sea, off the African coast. The boat left base on September 15th along with the Bagnolini. The original plan called for the vessel to reach Freetown, but B.d.U. had U-Boats already operating in the area, so Betasom was asked to delay its vessels. Due to great delay accumulated, the original plan to have the Archimede refuel the Bagnolini was abandoned and the vessel was freed to conduct offensive patrol. On October 8th, the boat reached a new area and the same day it intercepted the ‘Oronsay’, a large British passenger ship of 20,043 t. This ship belonged to the ‘Orient Steam Navigation Co, Ltd’ of London and was built in 1925 by the shipyard ‘John Brown & Co.’ of Clydebank. Capable of transporting 592 passengers, it was being used as a troopship. Of the people on board, 5 lost their lives, 26 were captured as P.O.W.s, and the remaining 412 survived. The sinking was given in position 4º 08’ N, 20º 57’ W by the Italian authorities, and 4º 29’ N, 20º 52’ W by the British.

Oronsay, the 20.043 t.s.l. liner sunk by the Archimede
(Photo courtesy Erminio Bagnasco and Achille Rastelli)

A few hours later, the Archimede attacked the 16,991 t. Greek passenger ship ‘T.S.S. Nea Hellas’, formerly known as the ‘Tuscania’, a British ship of the ‘Anchor Line” of London. This famous ship, affectionately known as the ‘Nelly Wallace’ by Allied troops, was in service to the Allies and was not returned to Greece until 1947.

It is not known if the Nea Hellas (New Greece) was hit by one of the torpedoes launched; it appears that it was, but eventually it was able to run away and avoid sinking. After continuing patrolling this area until the 19th, the Archimede was later repositioned south of the Capo Verde Islands, and area which it occupied until the end of the month. Having failed to intercept any traffic, it returned to base reaching Bordeaux on November 17th.

T.S.S. Nea Hellas


The following and last mission took the vessel back to the waters off the Brazilian coast. The Archimede, still under the command of T.V. Guido Saccardo, left Le Verdon on February 26th, 1943 with general instructions to reach the area off Pernambuco, Brazil. The original operational plan called for the submarine to leave the area when the diesel fuel reserve was down to about 70 t., and then receive additional fuel from an Italian or German submarine. Eventually, with the extra fuel the boat would have been able to reach Rio de Janeiro, but the plan was called off. Instead of venturing south to the 23rd parallel, the Archimede remained north of the 20th. On the 10th of April the Archimede sent the last signal informing base of his position, given at 16º 45’S, 37º 30’ W, and also informing the Italian command that it had only 61 t. of diesel fuel left. At that point, the Archimede was given the coordinates for meeting a German submarine from which it would have received enough fuel to return to base. At 2:00 AM on the 15th, an airplane intercepted the Archimede, but due to technical difficulties of unspecified nature, the submarine could not submerge. The first plane, a spotter, called two more to the scene.

The sinking of the Archimede
Documentation provided by Captain Jerry Mason, USN (Ret)

They were aircraft from the 93rd Patrol Squadron (They belonged to the U.S. Navy Patrol and were part of VP-83, which was also credited with the sinking of U-164 and U-507). The first aircraft , a PBY-5A Catalina piloted by Ensign T. E. Robertson, attacked in position 03°23’S, 30°28’W. Robertson made the first bomb run, dropping four depth charges from about 650 meters, and possibly damaged the boat. The second Catalina, piloted by Lieutenant G. Bradford, Jr., attacked minutes later, dropping four more depth charges from an altitude of 50 feet, which centered the vessel, breaking it into two sections which rapidly disappeared into the sea. About 20 crewmembers were able to survive and the American aircraft dropped three rubber craft. On May 27th, 27 days into an unimaginable ordeal, Brazilian fishermen found one of the original rubber crafts with three sailors; two already dead and one near expiring. After a long period of recovery, the only survivor, Giuseppe Lococo , was transferred to a POW camp in the United States. Only at the end of the conflict would Italian authorities receive detailed news of the loss of the Archimede and the terrible ordeal of its only survivor.

See the official U.S. Navy report of the interrogation proceeding of Giuseppe Lococo.


81a Sq. Guglielmotti, Ferraris, Galvani, Galilei
2a Sq. Perla, Macallè, Archimede, Torricelli.

Original Documentation

26 July 1943

In reply refer to Initials
and No. Op-16-Z


O.N.I. 250 – I/Serial 1


26 July 1943









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, 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

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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.

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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, which was later sunk. 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, 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

* For U.S.N. equivalents see Annex B.

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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.) 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 Achimede’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 their disaster.

Capitano Direzione Macchine Lorenzo Ferrari, 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,

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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 Magani 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 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, of Trieste He and the other three junior officers were very well liked by the crew.

Guardiamarina Franco (?) Greppi, a Genoese, Guardiamarina Alicata of Palermo, and Aspirante Sandri 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 —

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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 and the sinking of an American ship of 6,000 tons. 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.

The 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.

* see Chapter V.

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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 and aboard.

The sole survivor, Giuseppe Lococo, 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 on her.

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The 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.)

Her 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.

She refuelled and took on supplies for a trip to Massawa, her future

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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.

At 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

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When Italy entered the war in June 1940, there were two submarine flotillas at Massawa, consisting of the submarines listed below:

1. Ferraris, Galelei, Archimede, and Torricelli.

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), p.6)


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 15 days.


This was a mission of seven days down to a zone off Perim. She

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left Massawa on 20 December, 1940. The prisoner stated that “they sighted nothing and did nothing”.


Each cruise was a routine patrol of five or six day’s duration. Again the prisoner stated that “they did nothing”.

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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

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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

* See Chapter XVI for details.

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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 refitting.

– 14 –


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, second in command of the base, assumed responsibility for the boat.

– 15 –


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 repaired.

– 16 –


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.) 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.) 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.

– 17 –


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, 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.

– 18 –


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 Grionde. 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.

– 19 –

While on patrol, stern torpedo tube No. 7 was found to be leaking badly, the torpedo was removed and the tube flooded.

– 20 –


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.


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 depth.

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

– 21 –

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

– 22 –

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.


There was some clouds in the sky and the sun was low on the horizon

– 23 –

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. Magani 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.

– 24 –

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 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 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 raft.

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 (Creppi 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

– 25 –

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 fishermen.

– 26 –



According to the prisoner 1,100 tons on the surface and 1,200 tons submerged.


75 metres.


4 metres.


Between 4 and 5 metres.


Between 5 and 6 metres.


Between 6 and 7 metres.


2.65 metres.


Between 2 and 3 metres.


2 metres.


5 meters.

– 27 –


3 metres.


4 metres.


Raked and rounded on top.


According to the prisoner improved Archimede Class.


On the port side of the gray-colored conning tower one of the crew had painted a white dolphin.


Forward Torpedo Compartment.

Hammocks for ratings.

Watertight bulkhead and escape chamber.

Communications Room.

Petty Officers’ Quarters forward, port and starboard.

Hydrophone booth forward starboard.

Wooden partition.

Captain’s enclosure aft starboard.

Officer’s Quarters starboard.

Radio Cabin and Water Closet aft port.

Watertight bulkhead.

Control Room.
Munitions magazine under floor plating aft of periscopes.

Watertight bulkhead.

Engine Room.


Watertight bulkhead.

– 28 –

Auxiliary Compartment.

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”,

– 29 –

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 torpedo’s run.

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

– 30 –

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’

– 31 –

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 lubricating oil.

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 compartment.


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

– 32 –

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 to Rome.

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.


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

– 33 –

stood the hydrophone watches.


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 engine room.

– 34 –


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.


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.

– 35 –

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.”

– 36 –


I. Location of Italian Submarine Flotilla Based on Bordeaux (as of 15 February, 1943).

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 months’ cruises.

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 No. 2.

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

– 37 –

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

– 38 –

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 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.

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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 device.)

– 40 –


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.

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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

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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 Pallice.

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

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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

– 44 –

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 mole.


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,

– 45 –

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.

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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 farther east.

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

– 47 –

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 32-38.

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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 and 20.

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

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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

– 50 –

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.

– 51 –



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 each.

Before leaving Bordeaux on his final cruise the prisoner was told by an Italian doctor originally from Palermo that their native city had been

– 52 –

“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 coning tower was damaged. Borghese finally decided to give up the trials and shipped the midget submarine back to Italy.


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
Secondo Capo
Marinaio Scelto

– 53 –

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 Rome communiqué.

– 54 –


Saccardo, Guido
Tenente di Vascello
Zuliani, Alberto (?)
Tenente di Vascello
Magnani, Tommaso
Sottotenente di Vascello (di complemento)
Lieutenant (j.g.) (Reserve)
Ferrari, Lorenzo
Tenente Direzione Macchine (di complemento)
Lieut. (j.g.) (engineering duties only) (Reserve)
Niani, Bruno
Sottotenente Direzione Macchine (di complemento)
Ensign (engineering duties only) (Reserve)
Sottotenente Direzione Macchine
Ensign (engineering duties only)
Greppi, Franco (?)
Maresciallo la classe Elettricista
Warrant Electrician
Maresciallo Capo Radio Telegrafista
Warrant Radioman
Migliorati, Giuseppe
Capo Nostromo
Chief Boatswain’s Mate
Secondo Capo di Macchine
Machinist’s Mate, 1 cl.
Secondo Capo di Macchine
Machinist’s Mate, 1 cl.
Secondo Capo Elettricista
Electrician’s Mate, 1cl.
Secondo Capo Silurista
Torpedoman’s Mate, 1cl.
Cantu, Giuseppe
Sergente Cannoniere
Gunner’s Mate, 2cl.
Sergente Silurista
Torpedoman’s Mate, 2cl.
Sergente Silurista
Torpedoman’s Mate, 2cl.
Tari, Giorgio
Sergente Furiere
Storekeeper, 2cl.
Sergente Motorista
Motor Machinist’s Mate, 2cl.
Sergente Elettricista
Electrician’s Mate, 2cl.
Santalamazza, Ardo
Sottocapo Silurista
Torpedoman’s Mate, 3cl.
Avolio, Ugo
Sottocapo Silurista
Torpedoman’s Mate, 3cl.
Tomaiolo, Pietro
Sottocapo Elettricista
Electrician’s Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo Elettricista
Electrician’s Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo Motorista
Motor Machinist’s Mate 3cl.
Votero, Ludovico
Sottocapo Motorista
Motor Machinist’s Mate 3cl.
Sottocapo Cannoniere
Gunner’s Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo Cannoniere
Gunner’s Mate, 3cl.
Sottocapo Radio Telegrafista
Radioman, 3cl.
Sottocapo Radio Telegrafista
Radioman, 3cl.
Sottocapo Nocchiere
Quartermaster, 3cl.
Sottocapo Nocchiere
Quartermaster, 3cl.
*Lococo, Giuseppe
Sottocapo Nostromo
Petty officer, 3cl.
Petty officer, 3cl.
Petty officer, 3cl.

* Presumably sole survivor, and sole prisoner.

Silurista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Silurista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Silurista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Silurista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Elettricista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Motorista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Radio Telegrafista Scelto
Seaman, 1cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Cook (translation)
Hospital Apprentice, 2cl.
Ordinanza Comandante
Captain’s orderly (translation)
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
De Simone,
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
De Cesaro,
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.
Seaman, 2cl.

* Prisoner could not recall the name.


Petty officers
Other ratings

Documentation provided by Captain Jerry Mason, USN (Ret)