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Admiral de Courten went to Palazzo Vidoni with Admiral Franco Maugeri, for the agreements relating to the “Ibis Mission”; from General Ambrosio confirmed the King's intention to move to Maddalena with the Royal Family and with the military leaders, as mentioned above.

De Courten then arranged that starting from dawn on 9 September the following naval units should be ready to move:

  • the destroyers Ugolino Vivaldi and Antonio Da Noli - who depended on the Command of the Naval Forces from Battaglia (from now on CC.FF.NN.BB.) - from Civitavecchia. Supermarina therefore gave the CC.FF.NN.BB. the operational provisions relating to this mission;

  • the corvettes Gru and Pellicano from Gaeta;

  • two fast motorboats from Fiumicino (mouth of the Tiber).



It was delivered to Admiral de Courten, to the Ministry of the Navy, theMemo n. 1of the Supreme Command. Admiral de Courten made a copy of the original as this document had to be returned immediately to the bearer.

Given the importance and delicacy of the arguments, Admiral de Courten summoned to the Ministry of the Navy, for the afternoon of the following day, 7 September, the admirals Commanders-in-Chief and autonomous Commanders employed by the Navy General Staff.

In the early hours of the afternoon, Admiral de Courten went to the Supreme Command and confirmed to General Ambrosio the receipt of theMemo n. 1, assuring that a meeting was scheduled for the following day at the Ministry of High Command dependent on the Royal Navy. At this point in the interview, General Ambrosio handed Admiral de Courten "a copy, not authentic, of a memorandum written in English entitledInstructions for the movement of Italian warships and merchant shipssigned by Commodore Dick. The memo, dated September 4, appeared to have been filled in by order of General Eisenhower.

Admiral de Courten gave a quick glance at the document and was struck by its clauses which included, among other things, the dislocation of war units in certain ports, the routes to be followed, the weapons arranged per keel.

"Salvo for the use of anti-aircraft weapons that could open fire only in case of evident hostile attitude on the part of the aircraft; the possible possibility of disarmament measures that could be ordered by the allied naval authorities for security reasons".


Admiral de Courten had the distinct feeling that:

"The negotiations for the armistice were therefore already so advanced as to allow the formulation of instructions for the movements of the fleet towards the Anglo-American bases, even providing for disarmament measures?".

He also noted that while ports of destination were provided for all military ships, for the FF.NN.BB. instead it was ordered that they should go to Bona, where they were to arrive during the day, and upon their arrival they would receive further instructions. This different treatment was absolutely unacceptable to de Courten. He then manifested in very lively terms to General Ambrosio his deep discontent at the fact that problems of such material and moral importance for the Navy had been examined without having previously consulted him. He particularly regretted the  "rules regarding the location of the most important part of the Fleet and the treatment to which it was entitled".

General Ambrosio pointed out that some norms of the Dick instructions could be considered outdated,

"Since it was proposed to the Anglo-Americans that the entire Fleet concentrate on La Maddalena and he believed for certain that no objections would be raised to the acceptance of this request".

Admiral de Courten, despite these assurances, replied that he would examine the document in detail and that he would express his decisions in writing. In fact, not being aware of the fact that the Armistice had already been signed on 3 September, he believed that the “Dick Instructions” were part of one of the documents to be examined during the negotiations, and that it was therefore negotiable.

He then returned to Santa Rosa - the protected operational headquarters of the General Staff and the radio station - he examined the situation with Admiral Sansonetti and two memos were compiled to illustrate the position to the Supreme Command.


Consequently Supermarina made contact with the Supreme Command and obtained the authorization to implement the defense plan already prepared:

  • immediate deployment of the twenty-two submarines ready in the predetermined ambush areas

  • alarm status for the MAS Flotillas.


Obtaining this authorization also led to the presumption that the conclusions of negotiations for the Armistice were still being defined. In fact, Admiral de Courten writes:

“This hypothesis was confirmed by the order given by the Supreme Command, at 12.45 the following day, to“ put into effect all the preventive measures for the case of enemy landing on the coasts of central and southern Italy ”.

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