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September 7


On the morning of the 7th Admiral de Courten went to the Supreme Command, to deliver and illustrate the two memos relating to Commodore Dick's Instructions, where he learned, with surprise, that General Ambrosio had left for Turin to collect important papers and would be returned only the next morning. He then drew the conclusion that

"The course of events had to have a pace that allowed General Ambrosio to be expelled for 36 hours and therefore neither decisions nor facts that could have influence on decisions were foreseeable in the short term".

Also on the morning of 7 September, Admiral de Courten met with Admiral Bergamini, Commander in Chief of the FF.NN .BB., Who arrived by car from La Spezia for the meeting called for the afternoon, _cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_

“An interview on the spirit of the Fleet. I had full and explicit assurance from him that the fleet was ready to go out to fight its last battle in the waters of the southern Tyrrhenian Sea. He told me that Commanders and Officers were perfectly aware of the reality they would encounter, but that in all of them the decision to fight to the extreme of possibility was very firm. The crews were full of faith and enthusiasm. The training had made good progress in recent times. The agreements made with the German and Italian Air Forces and the experiences made gave good confidence to finally be able to count on a decent air-naval cooperation. He confirmed that, by intervening in the landing operation which had just begun and taking advantage of the inevitable crisis of that delicate phase, it would be possible to inflict serious damage on the enemy. I remember this conversation with emotion because from the words of this man, who had always lived on and for ships, emanated without any hesitation the calm security of being able to ask the powerful organism in his hands for extreme effort and total sacrifice. Knowing that the underwater forces were already on the move and that the smaller torpedo forces were ready to go into action, I could not help thinking and I cannot but reaffirm today that the Navy was captured by the Armistice in full material and moral efficiency "

At the end of this meeting, Admiral Bergamini met with Admiral Massimo Girosi, Chief of Operations and Training of Supermarina, to examine the orders prepared for the forthcoming release of the FF.NN.BB., orders they had his approval as well as that of the admirals de Courten and Sansonetti. Admiral Girosi writes about it:

“The operation orders for what presumably would be the last outing with the supreme sacrifice of all our naval forces, had been physically completed by me with the full consent of your father and the Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Navy. They were so clear and resolute that they even envisaged the hypothesis of leaks or the need to bring the ships in dry position and keep them firing as stationary batteries, except to blow them up in case of need ”.

On the morning of the 7th, the German air reconnaissance sighted, north of Palermo, a significant convoy of landing craft (about eighty), escorted by units of the Allied Navy. The route of this convoy was towards the east. He also sighted a naval convoy heading west in the Benghazi area.

At 13.00, another important convoy was reported leaving Bizerte consisting of thirty-five transport ships, six oil tankers, nine lookouts, four landing craft, seven landing ships for tanks.


The Supreme Command, therefore, linking these movements with those of day 6, sent the following communication at 12.40 on the 7th:

From Supreme Command n. 42451 / OP. The presence this morning of a large convoy north of Palermo and an intense movement of steamboats, landing vehicles and war units including Npa [aircraft carriers] and contacted yesterday in the Taormina extension lead to believe that the landing in central-southern Italy is imminent. Consequent measures are taken. General Ambrosio 124007.


Admiral de Courten held the scheduled meeting with the High Command and attended by:

  • the Deputy Chief of Staff, Admiral Luigi Sansonetti;

  • the Deputy Chief of Staff, Admiral Carlo Giartosio;

  • the Secretary General, Admiral Emilio Ferreri;

  • the Commander in Chief of the FF.NN.BB., Admiral Carlo Bergamini;

  • the Commander in Chief of the Naval Traffic Protection Forces, Admiral Edoardo Somigli;

  • the Commander in Chief of the Submarines, Admiral Antonio Legnani;

  • the Superior Commander of the Naval Forces located in Taranto, Admiral Alberto Da Zara;

  • the Commander in Chief of the Department of La Spezia, Admiral Giotto Maraghini;

  • the Commander in Chief of the Naples Department, Admiral Ferdinando Casardi;

  • the Commander in Chief of the Taranto Department, Admiral Bruto Brivonesi;

  • the Maritime Military Commander of Venice, Admiral Emilio Bren


Admiral de Courten read and commented on the Memo n. 1 of the Supreme Command, and gave instructions to those present on the trace of a memorandum, previously prepared by Admiral Sansonetti, relating to the points that interested the Navy.

The provisions that concerned in particular the FF.NN.BB. were the following:

  1. Place all naval units in a state of defense, supplying them with fuel, water and food to those that were in a position to move;

  2. Place all the works on the ground in a state of defense, supplying them with food and ammunition [...];

  3. Arrange the departure of the Italian warships for the following destinations:

    •  unit of the Upper Tyrrhenian Sea: Sardinia, Corsica, Elba;

    •   units of the Upper Adriatic: Sibenik, Cattaro, Valona (urgently completing the battleship Giulio Cesare of the personnel necessary to navigate);

    •   the Taranto units had to remain in place, concentrating in the Mar Grande [...];

  4. In case of a German attack:

    • arrange for the sinking of military and merchant ships not in a position to move for works or other reasons;

    • free English prisoners (except black ones), possibly present in the territory;

    • to consider the German planes flying over the skies of the Naval Forces and the Bases as enemies and not to act against Anglo-American planes [...].


Admiral de Courten informed those present of the sightings of days 6 and 7 relating to the allied convoys, consisting of landing units escorted by war units.

He also gave instructions to the Commander in Chief of the FF.NN. of traffic protection, Admiral Somigli to immediately leave for La Spezia the admirals sub-order Amedeo Nomis di Pollone and Federico Martinengo, instructing them to directly assume the command of the torpedo boats, and the second the command of the anti-submarine vehicles (corvettes, VAS, torpedo boats, MAS, etc.).

The meeting ended at approximately 7.00 pm


Immediately after, Admiral de Courten had a new conversation with Admiral Bergamini:

"Although the restrictions imposed on me did not allow me to tell him exactly what I had known so far about the armistice problem, I expressed my concerns to him about the evident evolution of the national situation towards a definitive solution imposed by the general conditions of the country, so that he could also expect, in the short term, that we would be faced with accomplished facts. I also wanted to point out to him my opinion that, in this difficult and complex phase, the existence of the Fleet, which was a compact organism with a strong offensive capacity, constituted a pre-eminent element, capable of exercising an influence proportionate to its absolute value and relative. I then examined with him the possibility that, faced with a German offensive action, the ships of the Fleet managed to evade any threat by leaving the ports, but found themselves in the embarrassing situation of not knowing where to go, in order not to remain in areas controlled by the Germans and not to pass into areas controlled by the Anglo-Americans. We reviewed all the alternatives, agreeing that, in this extreme case, the decision to scuttle all the naval units in deep water could have been taken into consideration, using thin ships to rescue the crews, which would then be destroyed on the high seas. or on the coast. And, with this oppressive conclusion, which however did not appear, at the moment, of urgent relevance, we took our leave ".

7.45 pm

Supermarina, noting that the Allied landing attempt at Salerno must be near, sent the following message:

Supermarina - 68502 - Recipients of the Italian ship for FF.NN.BB. and for information Marina La Spezia - Marina Napoli (alt) Pisa table (alt) Have CT Vivaldi and Da Noli immediately transfer the wreck (in Civitavecchia code), remaining ready in 6 hours (alt) Pisa table (alt) 194507.


Supermarina sent the following message to Marina Napoli

Supermarina 67403 - Recipients Marina Napoli (alt) Sighting at 17.00 convoy landing vehicles at Ustica Rv 45 (true route), suggests a possible landing attempt between Sapri and S. Eufemia alba 8. 200007. "


Supermarina sent the personal Secret-Confidential Notice n. 12981, sent for information to Superaereo, and to the Oberhafenslehrer Sud (OBS), through the Liaison Office of the 2nd Luftflotte at Supermarina, in which the point of the Allied convoys bound for Italy was made and two hypotheses were formulated:

  • [...] the convoy sighted in front of Palermo heads for the Calabrian area where it disembarks near the area of operations. In this case, the planned major long-range operation would not be imminent but should be considered delayed until the landing craft mentioned above return to bases;

  • the convoy sighted in front of Palermo is destined to operate in accordance with the other means that were still in Bizerte last night and with those arriving with the convoy from Oran. In this case the important operation could take place on the night of the nine.

10.00 pm

Meanwhile, the events relating to the armistice and its proclamation were precipitating, and General Taylor and Colonel Gardiner arrived in Rome, at Palazzo Caprara (headquarters of the Army General Staff), from Gaeta, where they had disembarked from the corvette Ibis. , both Americans. The two officers had to coordinate with the Italian Armed Forces the operations relating to the landing that the American paratroopers would have to carry out at the Cerveteri and Furbara airports, near Rome, (operation code-named "Giant 2"), as well as the proclamation of the Armistice, news that was to be connected with the now imminent Allied landing on the Tyrrhenian coasts of central Italy. The two senior American officers asked to speak with the head of government or with the military leaders; however, they were unpleasantly surprised to find that, although they were aware of their arrival and the purpose of their mission, they were not ready to meet them. In fact, Marshal Badoglio had made himself unavailable due to the late hour, General Ambrosio was in Turin, General Mario Roatta, Chief of Staff of the Army, was not available; they could only meet General Carboni.

General Taylor communicated to General Carboni that, as agreed in Cassibile on 3 September, the day X, relating to the proclamation of the armistice, would be the next 8 September, a communication that was made twenty-four hours before the landing of the troops. Anglo-American in the Salerno area. General Carboni considered it impossible for the Italian Government to be able to proclaim the Armistice on 8 September and therefore he pointed out, forcing it, an alarming situation on the state of readiness of the Italian Armed Forces located in Rome, and in particular on the supply of fuels. which were stored in that city. He reported that, at the time, the access routes to the depots had been manned by the Germans, so it was impossible to provide the tactical and logistical help necessary to ensure the success of the mission of the American airborne troops. It was therefore necessary to postpone the proclamation of the armistice by a few days to allow for the best preparation of men, vehicles and supplies. The American officers were considerably baffled by this response and therefore asked to speak with Marshal Badoglio who, awakened, received them at 01.00 on the 8th.

10.25 pm

Rear Admiral Ludovico Borgatti of Supermarina telephoned Admiral Stanislao Caraciotti, Chief of Staff of the FF.NN.BB., to get news about the preparation of the Ugolino Vivaldi and Antonio Da Noli. Admiral Caraciotti communicated that there were no problems for the latter destroyer, who was in La Spezia, while he would be more precise later for the first, who was in Genoa for work on diesel engines. However, Genoa had already been requested to have the ship available as soon as possible.

11.15 pm

Admiral Borgatti called Admiral Caraciotti to inform him that Admiral Sansonetti requested that the two units be in Civitavecchia on the 9th morning, where they had to be ready to move in four hours.

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