The attack on Suda Bay on the island of Crete was the first of the surface division of the Xa Flottilla MAS and a very successful one. Suda is a naturally protected harbor on the northwest coast of the island. It was chosen by the Xa because of the almost continuous presence of British cruisers and other military ships.
York and Pericles both crippled and beached
The attack was conducted the night of March 25, 1941. The six attack units, some very light and extremely fast boats, were launched from the destroyers Crispi and Sella under the command of Lieutenant Luigi Faggioni (the other men on the mission were: Alessio de Vito, Emilio Barberi, Angelo Cabrini, Tullio Tedeschi and Lino Beccati). After having managed to bypass the harbor water defenses and having avoided searchlights, the units were finally able to reach the inner harbor. Here, the heavy cruiser York, famous for powerful guns and a not-too-graceful silhouette, was the target of the first attack. The British, who wanted to avoid her loss, beached the unit, which was sinking rapidly.
Lieutenant Luigi Faggioni
Nevertheless, the ship was a total loss and also the source of a future controversy between the R.M. and the Luftwaffe over credit for her sinking. The matter was solved by British war records and by the ship’s own war log. The Cruiser Coventry was missed by less than two meters, while the tanker Pericles was sunk and soon followed by a second, smaller tank and a cargo ship. All six daring attackers survived and were caught by the British, but news of the splendid victory soon reached the base at Serchio, thus rejuvenating the Xa fighting spirit.