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September 8 at dawn

02.00 am

In the meeting of Marshal Badoglio with General Taylor and Colonel Gardiner, the latter confirmed the news reported by General Carboni. It was therefore necessary to postpone all the operations for a few days, and consequently the proclamation of the armistice.

The interview was very stormy and ended around 02.00.

Immediately afterwards, Marshal Badoglio sent General Castellano a message to illustrate the progress and outcome of the conversation he had with the two American officers and with the order to inform the Allied Command in Chief of the impossibility for the Italian Government to proclaim the day. 8 the news of the armistice. He also specified that General Taylor was ready to return to Sicily, together with General Francesco Rossi, Deputy Chief of Staff, who was given a memorandum, prepared by General Roatta, to be delivered to General Eisenhower, on whom all allied operational decisions depended . This memorandum highlighted the situation of the occupation by the German troops of the most important strategic points of Rome and the request was then put forward to postpone, at least until 12 September, the landing on the central-southern Tyrrhenian coasts, as well as the occupation of the Cerveteri and Furbara airports by American paratroopers. It was also asked to examine the possibility of making another landing on the Lazio coast and the request to transfer the FF.NN.BB. was renewed once again. to the Magdalene.

General Taylor himself sent, with the radio in his possession, a message to General Eisenhower to inform him of the outcome of the talks.

Subsequently Taylor and Rossi left to go to Tunis.

Meanwhile, on the night of the 8th, and at the first light of dawn, further sightings of the convoys headed for the Gulf of Salerno, gave certainty to Admiral de Courten that an Allied landing operation was to be expected in the short term. the central-southern Italian coasts. Therefore. Starting at that time, the fleet would have found itself in the waters of the southern Tyrrhenian Sea in the early hours of day 9, thus being able to intervene in the critical phase of the start of the landing, as agreed with Admiral Bergamini.

Provisions were also given for the implementation of the planned air-naval cooperation.

  "after having consulted the Supreme Command, which gave its consent, at 08.00 the order was sent to the Fleet to be ready to move at 14.00 on the 8th"

"[...] It was arranged that six torpedo boats (Libra, Pegaso, Orsa, Orione, Impetuoso and Ardimentoso) were made available to the Fleet to strengthen its naval escort, that two water tanks were sent respectively to La Maddalena and in Piombino, that the hospital ship Toscana, in the port of Gaeta, was ready to move, that the Military Maritime Commands concerned carried out the planned anti-mine and anti-submarine surveillance services in front of our bases and along the probable routes of the Fleet ".

10.00 am

Regarding the aeronaval cooperation, Superaereo, received the request from Supermarina, with message IE / 8763, instructed the III Aerosquadra to carry out the aerial escort to the FF.NN.BB. Among other things, this message envisaged “Italian Fleet will leave La Spezia this night with presumable times and routes indicated in brown on the map referred to in attachment no. 1 ". This message and the relative map were also sent to Supermarina for information. In these documents, the route that the fleet should have followed was the one necessary to direct the Tyrrhenian down and was therefore the internal one between Corsica and the coast of Tuscany and, subsequently, between Sardinia and Lazio.

Admiral de Courten went to General Ambrosio early in the morning of 8 September to report to him the outcome of the "Ibis Mission" (which had ended with the landing in Gaeta of General Taylor and Colonel Gardiner), to deliver the two reminders regarding the "Dick instructions"And to communicate the orders given for the imminent departure of the FF.NN.BB. for the southern Tyrrhenian

“Highlighting the availability of means and the prospects for the result, the character of the commitment”.

General Ambrosio, who appeared particularly gloomy and worried, then communicated to Admiral de Courten that the Anglo-Americans had rejected the proposal to reunite the FF.NN.BB. to Maddalena, but that he was still insisting on the acceptance of the Italian request with the hope of succeeding in obtaining something.

The Allies instead agreed on the transfer of the King to La Maddalena, however, allowing only one cruiser and four escort destroyers to be left at the disposal of the King and his entourage.

As for the movements of the FF.NN.BB. it was appropriate to await his "way"; however, it was decided to go to the state of readiness in two hours and to have the ships pass to the moorings in the roadstead, while the 8th Naval Division had to be ready in two hours in Genoa. These instructions were sent at 10.00 to the Command in Chief of the FF.NN.BB .. Admiral de Courten, at 12.00, also in consideration of the attitude held by General Ambrosio in the morning meeting, worried that he had not yet received its provisions regarding the departure of the FF.NN.BB. for Salerno.

Thus he relates in his Memoirs:

“At noon, since General Ambrosio had not made any communication to me, my worries became more serious. I had the feeling that the possibility taken into consideration the day before, with Admiral Bergamini, that of being in a state of hostility with the two sides, without knowing where to support the Fleet, could become a reality ”.

And still below is expressed in relation to the self-sinking:

"The orientation of this position was largely influenced by the circumstance that the persistent silence of General Ambrosio, unattainable, left very perplexed about the meaning of this attitude, which appeared ambiguous and susceptible to any interpretation".


Admiral de Courten therefore decided, should the appropriate provisions regarding the departure for Salerno of the FF.NN.BB. from:

  • consider canceled the mission of the FF.NN.BB. in Salerno

  • however, provide for the transfer of the fleet to La Maddalena;

  • also prepare the appropriate provisions for the possible self-sinking of naval units


He had a meeting with Admiral Bruno Brivonesi, Autonomous Military Maritime Commander of Sardinia, summoned by him and arrived by plane from La Maddalena.

Admiral Brivonesi told him that General Antonio Basso, Commander of the Armed Forces of Sardinia (the Military Maritime Commands were operationally dependent on the High Command of the Army for the land part) had already communicated the directives received from the Supreme Command in case of German attack. The provisions to be implemented the following day in case of docking of the Fleet in La Maddalena were also examined, as well as the possible accommodation of the Royal Family and part of the Government if their transfer to La Maddalena was confirmed. 136bad5cf58d_ After this interview, Admiral Brivonesi went to Admiral Sansonetti who, among other things, entrusted him with a package containing documents to be delivered to Admiral Bergamini on his arrival in La Maddalena, which probably also included the "Instructions ”by Commodore Dick, and immediately flew back to the office

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