R. Smg. Beilul

Beilul was an Adua-class (also known as the “African class”) coastal submarine with a displacement of 698 tons on the surface, 866 tons submerged. During the war, the boat completed a total of 34 patrols, covering a total of 23,305 miles on the surface and 3,321 miles submerged, and spent 234 days at sea.

Brief and Partial Chronology

July 2nd, 1937

The boat was set up in the Odero Terni Orlando del Muggiano shipyards (La Spezia).

May 22nd, 1938

Beilul was launched at the Odero Terni Orlando del Muggiano shipyards.

The launch of the submarine Beilul

September 14th, 1938

Official entry into active service.

December 12th, 1938

Beilul was placed under Maricosom, the Submarine Squadron Command. After a training cruise in the Dodecanese, it was deployed to the base in Leros.

Beilul in 1935

May 1940

The Beilul (Lieutenant Commander Paolo Vagliasindi, 34 years old, from Randazzo) was assigned to the XXXV Submarine Squadron of the III Grupsom, based in Augusta (Sicily).

June 10th, 1940

Upon Italy’s entry into the World War II, the submarine Beilul formed the XXXV Submarine Squadron (III Grupsom), based in Messina (Sicily), along with the twin boats Durbo and Tembien. Beilul, however, was based in Augusta.

On the same day of the declaration of war, Beilul was sent into an offensive ambush in the Strait of Sicily, between the islands of Pantelleria and Lampedusa.

June 19th, 1940

The boat returned to Augusta, without having spotted any enemy units. A short time later, it was transferred to Leros, within the V Submarine Group.

June 29th, 1940

Beilul was sent on a reconnaissance patrol in front of Alexandria to monitor the movements of the Mediterranean Fleet.

July 3rd, 1940

Beilul (Lieutenant Commander Paolo Vagliasindi) sailed from Leros bound for an ambush area located between Derna and Gaudo, on the Alexandria-Cape Kupho junction (Crete), along with another submarine sent to the same area. Tricheco (deployed twenty miles further northeast), would have to provide protection to the navigation of an important convoy bound for Libya, which transit was scheduled for July 8th (operation “TCM”, i.e. “Land, Sky, Sea”: the dispatch to Africa of 2,190 soldiers, 72 M11/39 tanks, 232 vehicles,  5,720 tons of fuel and 10,445 tons of supplies by the steamer Esperia, the passenger motor ship Calitea and the cargo motor ships Marco Foscarini, Francesco Barbaro and Vettor Pisani, with the direct escort of the torpedo boats Orsa, Procione, Orione and Pegaso, the destroyers Maestrale, Grecale, Libeccio and Scirocco and the cruisers Giovanni delle Bande Nere and Bartolomeo Colleoni,  and the indirect escort of the entire Italian battle fleet).

July 7th, 1940

At 11:40 PM (according to another source, at 1:30 AM on the 8th) the submarine Beilul launched a torpedo from close range (less than a 1000 meters), while on the surface, against an enemy destroyer mistakenly identified as H.M.S. Whirlwind, sighted in position 32°40′ N and 28°10′ E (off Crete). Immediately thereafter, Beilul disengaged by diving. A loud explosion was heard on board, and it was therefore believed that the target was either hit or damaged.  In fact, the weapon missed the target. Subjected to heavy hunting with the launch of numerous depth charges, Beilul was damaged and forced to prematurely the assigned area and return to Leros, However, during the return navigation it managed to communicate the sighting of the enemy force (including the position and with a mention of the harsh reaction suffered) to Supermarina.

The destroyer attacked by Beilul was part of the Mediterranean Fleet (battleships H.M.S. Warspite, H.M.S. Malaya and H.M.S. Royal Sovereign, aircraft carrier H.M.S. Eagle, light cruisers H.M.S. Orion, H.M.S. Neptune, H.M.S. Sydney, H.M.S. Gloucester and H.M.S. Liverpool, destroyers H.M.S. Hasty, H.M.S. Hyperion, H.M.S. Hero, H.M.S. Hostile, H.M.S. Hereward, H.M.S. Ilex, H.M.S. Dainty, H.M.S. Defender, H.M.S. Decoy, H.M.S. Nubian, H.M.S. Mohawk, H.M.S. Janus, H.M.S. Juno, H.M.S. Stuart, H.M.S. Voyager and H.M.S. Vampire), which had left Alexandria between the afternoon and evening of July 7th in three groups (Forces A,  B and C) to support the crossing of two convoys (MS 1 and MF. 1) from Malta to Alexandria (Operation ‘MA. 5») and that, two days later, clashing with the Italian fleet that had gone out to sea to cover the “TCM” operation, would unleash the battle of Punta Stilo.

According to www.naval-history.net, Beilul attacked Force B, consisting of the battleship H.M.S. Warspite (flag ship of Admiral Andrew Browne Cunningham, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet) and the destroyers H.M.S. Hero, H.M.S. Hereward, H.M.S. Decoy, H.M.S. Nubian and H.M.S. Mohawk. However, the timing of the attack on the Beilul seems to coincide rather with that of a sighting by the destroyer H.M.S. Hasty of Force C (composed, in addition to H.M.S. Hasty, by  H.M.S. Malaya, H.M.S. Eagle, H.M.S. Royal Sovereign – with Rear Admiral Henry Pridham-Wippell on board –, H.M.S. Hyperion, H.M.S. Hostile, H.M.S. Ilex, H.M.S. Imperial, H.M.S. Dainty, H.M.S. Defender, H.M.S. Janus, H.M.S. Juno, H.M.S. Voyager and H.M.S. Vampire, which sailed from Alexandria at six o’clock in the evening of the 7th),  At 11:59 PM on July 7, the destroyer reported sighting a submarine that had surfaced about a thousand yards (914 meters) away, attacking it with a package of depth charges and mistakenly believing that it was destroyed. An hour later, just before rejoining Force C, H.M.S. Hasty made another depth charge attack on a sonar contact, believing it had damaged yet another submarine.

The Beilul’s signaling, which places the enemy fleet about 150 miles northwest of Alexandria, would also allow air strikes to be launched on the Mediterranean Fleet, which would cause serious damage to the light cruiser H.M.S. Gloucester.

For this action and others that followed, Commander Vagliasindi was awarded the Bronze Medal for Military Valor.

September 17th, 1940

Beilul was sent on patrol north of Crete.

January 1st, 1941

Bailul set sail from Leros for a patrol in the Aegean.

January 9th, 1941

On the evening of January 8th, Beilul lying in ambush north of the Caso Channel, sighted in the moonlight off Crete (in position 35°25′ N and 26°28′ E, north of Kasos and just northeast of the eastern end of the island) a convoy consisting of five merchant ships and three escort units. This was convoy “AS. 10”, formed by eleven British and Greek merchant ships that had sailed from Port Said on February 8th and was headed for Suda (where they would arrive on the 10th) with the escort of five Greek destroyers. (This according to Italian historian Francesco Mattesini; according to the Historisches Marinearchiv it was instead convoy “MW.5C”, which had left Alexandria on January 7th, and arrived in Malta on the 10th and consisted of the military tanker Breconshire and the steamer Clan Macaulay escorted by the anti-aircraft cruiser H.M.S. Calcutta and the destroyers H.M.S. Diamond and H.M.S. Defender).

Remaining on the surface, at 00:17 on the 9th, Beilul launched four torpedoes against two of the merchant ships, and then disengaged with the rapid dive and moved away. Two minutes and 55 seconds after the launches, two explosions were heard on board, leading the crew to believe that they had hit two merchant ships, but in reality, no unit had been hit. The escort leader of the convoy, Captain Gregory Mezeviris (embarked on the destroyer Vasilef Georgios), felt three strong vibrations caused by as many explosions, one of which was close to his ship; Rightly believing that these were torpedoes launched from a submarine, the destroyers of the escort responded by launching depth charges, which, however, did not cause damage to the Beilul.

The detection signal launched by Beilul – which reports that it had launched four torpedoes against two steamers of a convoy escorted in the Kasos Channel – reached Rome at 4.30 AM. On the Allied side, the escort leader Mezeviris reported the incident upon arrival at Port Said and was told by British naval officers that the explosions were probably caused by torpedoes that had reached the end of their run, launched from a submarine or torpedo boat hidden near the coast.

January 12th, 1941

The submarine returned to base.

February 9th through 18th, 1941

Patrolling in the Aegean.

March 1941

Bailul was sent to the waters around Crete, along with other submarines, to attack British convoys at sea as part of Operation Lustre.

This operation, decided by the British commanders a few days earlier, consists in sending to Greece, with convoys from Egypt, British reinforcements and supplies to help the Greek army, engaged against the Italian army in Albania and now also threatened by the imminent German intervention on the Bulgarian border, as emerged from the decryptions of “ULTRA”.

“Lustre” began on March 4th with the dispatch of the first ships loaded with reinforcements from Alexandria to Piraeus. Between March and April 1941, with the double dispatch, every three days (from Alexandria to Piraeus and to Volos), of a convoy of escorted merchant ships loaded with materials and a fast convoy of warships used to transport troops (a total of 27 convoys, 15 from Egypt to Greece and 12 on the opposite route), 58,364 or 60,364 men (the 1st Armored Brigade,  the 2nd New Zealand Division and the 6th and 7th Australian Divisions) and 8,588 vehicles, armored vehicles and artillery pieces, plus related equipment and supplies. The anti-aircraft cruisers H.M.S. Coventry, H.M.S. Calcutta and H.M.S. Carlisle were available for the anti-aircraft defense of the convoys, while against possible attacks with surface ships a covering force usually composed of a battleship or a cruiser, plus a group of destroyers, took to the sea.

On the Italian side, as many as eleven submarines were sent to the waters around Crete (in the channels to the east and west of the island, as well as to the southeast of it) to hinder, throughout the month of March, the flow of British convoys: in addition to Beilul, also te Malachite, Nereide, Smeraldo, Ambra, Ascianghi, Amfitrite, Galatea, Dagabur, Ondina, and Onice. However, the use of these submarines was unsuccessful (no merchant ships were sunk, although on March 31st Ambra achieved an isolated success by sinking the light cruiser H.M.S. Bonaventure), as were the first air attacks launched by the Regia Aeronautica, on March 6th, against AS convoys 16 and AN. 17 south of the Kasos Channel: The only effect will be to force the escort to consume between 30% and 50% of their ammunition to repel attacks, but no ships were hit. During this patrol, Beilul failed to intercept enemy convoys.

April 10th, 1941

The British codebreakers of Bletchley Park (later to become known as “ULTRA”, a name not yet assumed at the time), probably on the basis of some ciphers captured in the previous months on board a captured Italian submarines (Galileo Galilei) or boarded before the sinking (Durbo, Uebi Scebeli), managed to decipher some Italian communications that allow them to inform the commands of Alexandria in Egypt that the Beilul would leave at three in the morning of the same  April 10th for a new mission, passing through the Kasos Channel. However, the information did not translate into an attack on the submarine.

May 12th through 20th, 1941

Patrol northwest of Alexandria.

September 27th, 1941

On the night of the 27th, during the British operation “Halberd”, Beilul was sent on a defensive patrol in the Ligurian Sea. This operation consisted of sending a convoy to Malta (military tanker Breconshire and cargo ships Ajax, City of Lincoln, City of Calcutta, Clan MacDonald, Clan Ferguson, Rowallan Castle, Imperial Star and Dunedin Star with a total cargo of 81,000 tons of supplies), but the Italian commands, not knowing the real objective of the British, feared instead it could be another naval bombardment against the Italian coasts.  This was why five submarines were sent to the Ligurian Sea (in addition to the Beilul, also the Giovanni Da Procida and the old H 1, H 4 and H 6).

November 1941

According to a source (codenames.info) Beilul was deployed in the central Mediterranean in support of the navigation of the convoy “Duisburg” towards Libya (later destroyed by the British Force K in the night between November 8th and 9th) but failed to sight enemy units. The official history of the U.S.M.M. (Ufficio Storico Marina Militare), however, does not mention the Beilul amongst the submarines sent to the waters of Malta to protect the navigation of this convoy, which would appear to have been only three (Corallo, Delfino, and Luigi Settembrini).

November 25th, 1941

Under the command of Lieutenant Francesco Pedrotti (30 years old, from Genoa), Bailul was sent on patrol 25 miles north of Derna.

November 30th (or 1 December 1st), 1941

Off the coast of Derna, Beilul was attacked and damaged in the evening by a British Short Sunderland seaplane. The timely reaction of the boat’s gunners forced the attacker to flee, visibly damaged and with fire on board, but not before he had damaged the submarine, which had to interrupt the mission due to the damage suffered.

Commander Pedrotto along with two officers at the beginning of a war patrol
(Collection Giovanni Pinna)

For this action, Commander Pedrotti was awarded the War Cross of Military Valor, with the motivation “Commander of a submarine, attacked at night repeatedly, being on the surface, by an enemy bomber, he ordered the immediate and vigorous reaction, maneuvering appropriately and opening fire with machine guns and cannon, frustrating his attack and visibly damaging it in a serious way“.

TN: the Sunderland in question was a Mark I, tail number Mark I T9050, based in Aboukir, Egypt and piloted by Lt. Ross Bohm (Australian) and according to the Operation Record Book of the No. 230 Squadron, the attack took place on the 1st and there was no damage to the aircraft. Below a picture of the aircraft in question.

Short Sunderland Mark I T9050

December 5th, 1941

The boat returned to base.

January 3rd, 1942

Beilul was sent to lie in wait south/southeast of Malta (the patrol began at noon on January 3rd), in the area between the meridians 21°40′ E and 22°20′ E and the parallels 33°20′ N and 34°00′ N, with the task of sighting and attacking any British naval forces that might take to the sea to oppose Operation “M. 43”,  which consisted of sending a large convoy of supplies to Libya. In total, as many as eleven submarines (Beilul, Platino, Onice, Galatea, Delfino, Alagi, Aradam, Axum, Turchese, Zaffiro, and Dessiè) were deployed in ambush on the probable routes that a British naval formation could take. One group (Axum, Turchese, Platino, Aradam, Onice Alagi, and Delfino) was deployed to the east of Malta, against possible arrivals from this island, another (Beilul, Galatea and Dessiè) further east, between Crete and Cyrenaica, on the route that would follow a formation that would have taken to the sea from Alexandria. The submarines had an offensive-exploratory task during the day and a total offensive at night.

No British naval force were able to attack the convoy, as the Mediterranean Fleet had been reduced to a minimum as a result of the losses inflicted at the end of 1941 by mines, Italian assault craft, and German submarines (a situation of which, however, Rome was not aware, so as to lead to extreme precautionary measures such as this deployment of underwater units to protect the navigation of an important convoy such as “M. 43”). The convoy reached its destination unscathed, bringing to Libya 15,379 tons of fuel, 2,417 tons of ammunition, 10,242 tons of various materials, 144 tanks, 520 vehicles and 901 officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers.

February 13th through 1919, 1942

On patrol in the waters of Syria and Palestine, without any success.

May 1942

Patrolling in the eastern Mediterranean.

TN Beilul left Leros on May 23rd and returned on June 6th.

A sample of a report a submarine commander would file upon returning to base. This one is for the patrol Beilul completed in May. These records are available from the U.S.M.M.
(Italian Navy Historical Bureau, or as they call themselves ‘Italian Navy Historical Office’).

June 3rd or 4th, 1942

On patrol off the coast of Cyrenaica, the submarine Beilul (Lieutenant Francesco Pedrotti) attacked two small escorted convoys with the launch of three torpedoes from a great distance, but was spotted by the escort and subjected to heavy, precise and prolonged hunting with depth charges, which causes serious damage and forces it to return to base early. Commander Pedrotti would receive a Bronze Medal for Military Valor for this action (the second obtained during his time in command of the Beilul), with the motivation “Commander of a submarine on a war mission, sighted a convoy strongly escorted by planes and surface units, he boldly went with prompt and decisive action to attack the formation by immediately launching torpedoes. Subjected to violent and prolonged hunting action by the escort ships, he managed with appropriate maneuvers to disengage and bring his unit back to base“.

June 6th, 1942

Beilul arrived in Leros where it remained under repair for several months. According to another source, in the first half of June the Beilul was sent to the waters of Palestine along with Sirena, Ondina and Galatea, and starting on June 12, along with these three submarines and the Germans U 77, U 81, U 205, U 431, U 453 and U 559, it would be sent to Libyan waters to participate in the fight against the failed British operation “Vigorous” which was sending a heavily escorted convoy from Alexandria to Malta during the Battle of Mid-June.

November 1942

Departing from Leros, it carries out a 15-day patrol in the eastern Mediterranean.

January-February 1943

It carried out two patrols lasting a total of 19 days.

March 1943

It carries out a patrol to the east of Cyprus; This was the only mission carried out by an Italian submarine in the eastern Mediterranean in March.

May 25th, 1943

Beilul sailed from Leros (under the command of Lieutenant Pasquale Beltrame) for a patrol in the Gulf of Sirte, in a sector between the meridians 14° and 20° E, the parallel 34° N and the Libyan coast.

May 28th, 1943

During the morning, Beilul was strafed by an aircraft and returns fire with its own machine guns. Neither the aircraft nor the submarine were damaged.

May 29th, 1943

Beilul reaches the assigned sector.

May 31st, 1943

At 10:35 PM, in position 32°00’ N and 17°30′ E, Beilul sighted two patrol boats engaged in anti-submarine search, and disengaged by diving.

June 13th, 1943

The boat returned to base without having spotted enemy traffic and after having suffered intense search and anti-submarine hunt on several occasions.

June 25th, 1943

Beilul left Leros for a new patrol south of Crete, straddling the 25th meridian east. The mission lasted until the first ten days of July; No attacks were conducted, while there was intense anti-submarine air activity.

July 10th, 1943

On her way back to Leros, Beilul was ordered to head towards the south-eastern coast of Sicily, where the Anglo-Americans had landed: together with nine other submarines, the boat would have to counter the landings.

(According to another source, Beilul sailed from Pozzuoli on July 11th together with the submarines Ascianghi and Nereide, bound for the waters of the east coast of Sicily to counter the Anglo-American landing forces that the previous day had started the invasion of the island. According to yet another source, Beilul was sent to those waters, along with other submarines, as early as the evening of July 9th, following the sighting of the Allied landing fleet by two planes of the Luftwaffe. According to “I Sommergibili Italiani 1940-1943” by Erminio Bagnasco and Maurizio Brescia, however, Bailul was on patrol north of Cyrenaica, as part of a mission that began on June 25th, and was diverted to the landing area on July 10th).

July 12th, 1943

Having reached the assigned area off Capo Passero, after a few hours – at 9.45 PM –Beilul (Lieutenant Pasquale Beltrame, 30 years old, from Savona), while patrolling on the surface, sighted in position 36°54′ N and 15°35′ E three Jervis-class destroyers sailing in formation. Judging the situation to be favorable for an attack, Commander Beltrame maneuvered to approach. At 9:55 PM, having reached a distance of 1,500 meters, Beilul attacked with the launch of three torpedoes (the enemy formation appeared very compact), and then disengaged by diving. The weapons did not hit the target (although after two minutes and 15 seconds, the time scheduled for the torpedo run, two loud detonations were heard on board, making the crew believe that they had damaged a destroyer), and the submarine managed to get away unscathed (according to another source, this action would have occurred on June 12th, 1943, instead of July 12th).

For this action, Commander Beltrame was decorated with the Bronze Medal for Military Valor, with the motivation “Commander of a submarine animated by a constant fighting will and a high sense of duty, during a long war mission, sighting an enemy formation, he went on the attack with determination and skill torpedoing two destroyers. He disengaged himself from the enemy reaction with perfect maneuvering, continuing the mission.”

The presumed success of this attack was announced in War Bulletin No. 1154 of July 14: “… another underwater unit, commanded by Lieutenant Pasquale Beltrame from Savona, launched a salvo of torpedoes against a formation of destroyers, two of which were hit…».

July 16th, 1943

At 10:17 PM, Beilul, while sailing on the surface – on its way from Leros to Taranto – using diesel engines, which were generating too much smoke, was sighted in position 39°19′ N and 17°40′ E by the British submarine H.M.S. United (Lieutenant John Charles Young Roxburgh). Since the newcomer was in an ambush zone assigned to the submarines H.M.S. Trooper and H.M.S. Tactician, H.M.S. United’s commander was uncertain whether the other boat was friend or foe and decided not to attack. Even the Beilul sighted H.M.S. United, and the captain of the Italian boat did not know if the other submarine was friend or enemy as well. Therefore, Beltrame decided to move away prudently, also switching from diesel to electric propulsion, because the excessive amount of smoke emitted by its engines made it too easily visible to any enemy units.

July 17th, 1943

Bailul returnrd to base.

Mid-August 1943

Bailul entered the shipyard in Monfalcone for a long period of major maintenance and modernization works.

September 8th, 1943

On the date of the armistice, Beilul was formally part of the V Submarine Group of Leros, Along with Onice, Sirena and Ametista. For various reasons, however, none of the submarines was in Leros at the time of the armistice (three out of four were deployed in Italy, while the Onice was transferred to Taranto and deployed in the Ionian Sea in contrast to the Anglo-American landing forces).


The announcement of the armistice of Cassibile, on September 8th, 1943, surprised the Beilul (Lieutenant Pasquale Beltrame) in dry dock in the CRDA workshops in Monfalcone. There were many units under construction or repair in that important shipbuilding center: under repair there were the submarine Beilul, and Argo, the MAS 518, 550 and 554 and the motor torpedo boats MS 41 and MS 76. In various stages of construction there were the corvettes Egeria, Euridice, Tersicore e Melpomene, the submarines Cromo, Ferro, Piombo, Potassio, Rame, Zinco, Bario, Litio, Sodio, R 7, R 8 and R 9, the pocket submarines CM 2 and CM 3, the minesweepers RD 115, RD 116, RD 117, RD 118, RD 119, RD 120, RD 121 and RD 122,  the military tugs San Biagio, San Cesario and Sant’Antonio and seven merchant ships, including the passenger ship Ausonia (in the process of being converted into a hospital ship) and the tanker Antonio Zotti. Two other submarines, the Nautilo and the “pocket” CM 1, were at an advanced stage of fitting out, the first having recently entered service, the second not yet officially having entered service.

In Monfalcone, since there was no real Navy Command but only a detached section of the Naval Engineering Office of Trieste, the role of Navy commander was held by the most senior officer of the Submarine Group under construction, under which were Beilul, Argo, Bario, Cromo, Ferro, Litio, Nautilo, Piombo, Potassio, Rame, R 7, R 8, R 9,  Sodio, Zinco, CM 2 and CM 3. The oldest officer, on September 8th, was Lieutenant Commander Alberto Campanella, commander of the Nautilo. Monfalcone’s defenses, however, were limited to only seven anti-aircraft batteries armed by the Navy, three fixed and four movable.

Captain Lorenzo Stallo, commander of Marina Trieste, ordered all ships capable of going to sea to set sail to avoid capture. On the morning of September 9th, Nautilo and the CM 1 departed from Monfalcone for Venice. The crews of Beilul and Argo had also embarked on the former, the latter being immobilized and unable to take to sea. However, they did not go far, because the Nautilo, immobilized in Venice (where it had arrived at four o’clock in the afternoon of the same day September 9th) by a breakdown, was captured there by the Germans together with the entire crew.

The Nautilo departed and the most senior officer in Monfalcone remained the major of the Naval Engineers, Oreste Bambini. After getting in touch with the Territorial Command of the Army, Bambini had the two MAS capable of moving (518 and 554) set sail and sabotage both the units that could be prepared in less than three months (as ordered by Supermarina) and the anti-aircraft batteries. Hundreds of shipyard workers enlisted as partisans in the newly formed “Proletarian Brigade”, and faced the German invaders, together with officers and soldiers of the Royal Army and Slovenian partisans, intending to resist, in the series of clashes  which lasted from September 11th through 26th and ended with the destruction of the Brigade by the overwhelming opposing forces – which would become known as the Battle of Gorizia.

The ships under construction at Monfalcone, including Beilul, all fell into German hands when German troops (probably the 211th Grenadier Regiment of the 71st Infantry Division, coming from Trieste) occupied the shipyard, between September 10th and 11th. According to some sources, Beilul, before its capture, was sabotaged by the crew on September 9th.

The sailor of the submarine Beilul Mario Isidoro Nardin, twenty years old, from Trieste, surprised in Monfalcone by the armistice, went to Verona in the company of five other submariners. Finding the city already occupied by the Germans, while the commander had scuttled the submarine, Nardin and his companions were sent back to Trieste and after initial uncertainties and a meeting with the head of the Fascist Party, they enlisted in the X Flotilla MAS, which sided with Germany and the Italian Social Republic. Nardin became a “Gamma man,” an assault diver. After surviving the conflict, in the post-war period he would put into practice his skills in the field of recovery of war relicts, between Caorle and Venice.

Commander Beltrame also appeared to have joined the Italian Social Republic, assuming command of the Plant Protection Company in Bassano del Grappa (Wack Kompanie 1009 Bassano in German documents) until December 1943, with the rank of captain. This company, composed of 148 men (two officers, 23 non-commissioned officers, 133 soldiers), formally under the prefecture of Vicenza but de facto under direct German control (Platzkommandantur of Vicenza), had the task of protecting the telegraph, telephone, and railway networks as well as ammunition depots, the old Fort Tombion (used as an explosives depot) from sabotage and attacks by the partisans., the Asiago airport and the Isotta Fraschini plant in Vicenza. Beltrame survived the war.

The twenty-three-year-old midshipman Mario Falchi Cavallini, embarked on the Beilul since the previous May (it was his first embarkation, once he had left the Naval Academy and completed the course at the Submarine School in Pula), was on leave in Lugo di Romagna at the time of the armistice (he had left Monfalcone just two days earlier). Having abandoned the idea of reaching Beilul after learning that the shipyard had already been occupied by the Germans, on the morning of September 9th he went to Rimini, from where he took a train to Rome and then from there to Pescasseroli, in Abruzzo, where he arrived on September 11th. Walking southwards, determined to reach the territory that remained under the control of the royal government, after eight days of walking he met a Canadian detachment north of Foggia and thus crossed the lines (“lines that in reality, at the end of September did not exist”, he would later recall). Placed at the disposal of the Naval Command of Taranto from October 1st, 1943, in the middle of the month Falchi Cavallini was given command of the pocket submarine CB 11 (which, however, he assumed only on the following December 11th), until the late spring of 1944, when he was transferred to the torpedo boat Clio. After the war, Falchi Cavallini would continue his career in the Navy, until he became an admiral. He died in 2015, at the age of 95.

The 21-year-old sub-chief radio telegraphist Alessandro Bianchet, from Belluno, was not so lucky. Captured by the Germans, he died in captivity in Yugoslavia November 10th, 1944. It appears to have been the only crew member of the Beilul killed during the entire conflict (this is what appears in the Register of the Fallen and Missing of the Navy in World War II and in the Register of the Fallen IMI).

At first, the Germans decided not to complete the work in progress, degrading Beilul to the role of a fuel barge, but after a short time, probably due to the destruction of submarines they were suffering in the Mediterranean, they changed their minds and decided to put it back into service. Unlike the other Italian submarines captured by the Germans, however, Beilul was not incorporated into the Kriegsmarine, but ceded to the National Republican Navy, the small Navy of the Italian Social Republic. In fact, it was the largest submarine assigned to this armed force, whose underwater component was otherwise composed exclusively of pocket submarines.

From the French base of Betasom (Bordeaux) and from the Polish base of Marigammasom (Danzig, where at the armistice the crews destined to arm nine U-boats transferred by the Kriegsmarine to the Regia Marina) were in training between March and April 1944, an Italian crew was sent to Italy, destined to crew Beilul as soon as it was ready. Lieutenant Mario Rossetto, former commander of the submarine Finzi in the Atlantic and then of the ex-German S 6 in Danzig, where he was surprised by the armistice, following which he had decided to join the Italian Social Republic, was appointed to Bailul’s command. Sub-lieutenant Manlio Massi was appointed as second commander, and Captain Angelo Vivo Leo was appointed chief engineer; the other officers assigned to Beilul were Lieutenants Alfio Petralia (a veteran of the Atlantic, like Rossetto), Paolo Di Natale (also, like Rossetto, from Gdansk) and Antonio Galante and Ensign Ciuk. The crew was accommodated in the “Ammiraglio Legnani” barracks in Trieste, named in memory of Admiral Antonio Legnani, the last commander of the Italian submarine fleet (from December 1941 to the armistice) and the first commander of the National Republican Navy, who was killed in a car accident in October 1943.

But just when the work had been almost completely completed, on May 25th, 1944 (another source, probably erroneous, speaks of May 10th), Beilul, now ready to return to service, was hit by bombs and sunk during a raid by the Royal Air Force on the port of Monfalcone. The damage suffered was such that it was considered irretrievable.

Monfalcone, Italy. C. 1945-04. The attack on shipbuilding yards at Monfalcone in north-east Italy by RAF Liberator aircrafts
(Australian War memorial)

The same attack also destroyed three other units being fitted out in Monfalcone on behalf of the Kriegsmarine: the transport submarine UIT 4 (formerly R 7), the pocket submarine UIT 8 (formerly CM 2) and the corvette UJ 204 (formerly Euridice). The transport submarine UIT 5 (formerly R 8), also under construction, and several motor rafts were also damaged.

The crew destined for Beilul was therefore disbanded and its members, together with personnel from other departments, went to form the crews of the pocket submarines of the CB Group (or I Grupsom “Comandante Longobardo”) based in Pula, the “San Giusto” Battalion of the X MAS Flotilla and the Service Department of the “Legnani” Barracks. Their subsequent fate, in the context of the bloody Yugoslav occupation of Venezia Giulia at the end of the conflict, was often dramatic. Lieutenant Galante, destined to command a CB, was captured by Yugoslav partisans in May 1945, following the occupation of Pula, and never seen again. Two other members of the crew, the sub-chief electrician Giuseppe Makuc and the sub-chief naval engine engineer Caputo, were assigned to the crew of CB 21. On April 29th, 1945 this mini-submarine was rammed and sunk off Pula by a German Kriegstransporter, with the death of Makuc – who was trapped below deck and sunk with the submarine – and the serious wounding of Caputo, who was rescued but had his arm mangled by the hatch.

Lieutenant Rossetto fared better: transferred to the X MAS in La Spezia, he survived the turbulent period of the immediate post-war period unscathed and left the Navy in 1947, despite having been acquitted of all charges for his membership in the RSI and having been reinstated in his role. He became a director of Saipem (ENI group) and died in 2015, at the ripe old age of one hundred.

According to some sources (including “Italian Ships and Sailors in the Second World War” by Erminio Bagnasco), after being sunk in the bombing, the Beilul was subsequently brought back to the surface by the Germans, only to be sunk again by them (probably, scuttled) at the time of their retreat, at the beginning of May 1945. When the Allies arrived in Monfalcone, Beilul was just one of the many wrecks that dotted the stretch of water in front of the half-destroyed shipyard. In those waters lay completely or partially sunk also the corvettes UJ 203 (formerly Tersicore) and the submarines Argo, UIT 4 (formerly R 7), UIT 5 (formerly R 8), UIT 6 (formerly R 9), UIT 7 (formerly Bario), UIT 8 (formerly Litio), UIT 9 (formerly Sodio) and UIT 18 (formerly CM 2), as well as the beached or half-sunk hulls of six fast minesweepers.

The relict of Beilul was raised to then be sent to the scrapyard – 1947

Formally decommissioned from the Navy on February 27th, 1947, Beilul was salvaged in the summer of 1947 and scrapped that same year.

Original Italian text by Lorenzo Colombo adapted and translated by Cristiano D’Adamo

Operational Records

TypePatrols (Med.)Patrols (Other) NM Surface NM Sub. Days at SeaNM/DayAverage Speed
Submarine – Coastal34 23,305 3,321 234113.794.74


7/7/194023.41C.C. Paolo VigliasindiMediterranean32°40’N-28°10’ETorpedoFailedHMS Hasty DestroyerGreat Britain
1/9/194100.17C.C. Paolo VigliasindiMediterranean35°25′ N-26°28′ ETorpedoFailedVasilef GeorgiosDestroyer1371Greece
6/3/1942T.V. Francesco PedrottiMediterraneanTorpedoFailedEscort UnitsUnknown
6/12/194321.55T.V. Pasquale BeltrameMediterraneanCapo PasseroTorpedoFailedEscort UnitsUnknown

Crew Members Lost

Last NameFirst NameRankItalian RankDate
BianchetAlessandroJunior ChiefSottocapo11/10/1944