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September 8 evening in Rome


Admiral de Courten arrived at the Ministry and found admirals Sansonetti, Ferreri and the Chief of Staff, Captain Giovanni Aliprandi, who were anxiously awaiting his return, having also heard on the radio boththe announcement of General Eisenhowerthat the proclamation of Marshal Badoglio.

He informed them of the progress of the meeting held at the Quirinale, as well as of the one following the Supreme Command.

The task facing the admirals de Courten and Sansonetti was arduous and difficult, also because it would not have been easy to convince admirals and commanders that it was necessary to go with their ships to the ports indicated by the Allies; particularly those officers who had been prepared until the morning of the 8th to go and carry out their last fight to counter the imminent Anglo-American landing in the area of the Gulf of Salerno. As for the FF.NN.BB., the admirals de Courten and Sansonetti took the difficult decision to make them leave for La Maddalena anyway, even if General Ambrosio, in the conversation he had on the morning of the 8th with Admiral de Courten , had informed him that the Anglo-Americans had rejected the proposal to unite the FF.NN.BB. to La Maddalena, adding however

"Who was insisting with the Allies with the hope of getting something"

To make the adopted decision even more complex, it is necessary to consider that the rules contained in the "Dick reminder"(Known only to the admirals de Courten and Sansonetti) and in particular paragraphs 3, 5 and 6.

It should be noted that:

  • the Armistice was officially communicated by Marshal Badoglio at 7.45 pm on the 8th;

  • Admiral de Courten knew the conditions contained in the "Short Armistice" only in the meeting called by General Ambrosio (19.15-19.50) at the end of the Crown meeting;

  • Admiral de Courten quickly took the difficult decision to abide by the armistice clauses and communicated it to Admirals Sansonetti and Ferreri, who had just returned to the Navy Ministry;

  • the admirals de Courten and Sansonetti considered that the characteristics of the port of La Spezia were such as to facilitate possible coup d'état by the Germans against our ships: it was therefore necessary that the FF.NN.BB. leave this port as soon as possible. They also believed that the only source towards which to direct our fleet was that of La Maddalena, for the following reasons:

    • the Allies were in agreement with the Italian Government on the transfer of the Royal Family and part of the Government to La Maddalena;

    • General Ambrosio had promised, on the 8th morning, that he would insist with the Allies to have their consent on the transfer of the FF.NN.BB. to the Magdalene. The presence of the King and the Government in this city could constitute a valid argument for obtaining a positive opinion for the transfer of the FF.NN.BB. to the Magdalene, the opinion that it was hoped it could arrive as soon as possible;

    • Admiral Bruno Brivonesi had already made arrangements to welcome the units of the Fleet to the Maddalena, even if for a short time;

    • Admiral Brivonesi had been given the confidential documents to be given to Admiral Bergamini upon his arrival in La Maddalena.

    • Consequently it was decided, as Admiral Sansonetti reports in his Report of 28 December 1943


"[...] according to the provisions of the Armistice it (the FF.NN.BB.- ed.) Should have left at sunset on the 8th, sail at full speed at night and arrive at dawn near the North African coast, at a distance such as to be able to receive the support of the British air fighter. But since the Armistice was suddenly declared in the late evening of the 8th, it was not possible to strictly follow these rules, especially since not only the ships actually ready, but also those not ready but ready quickly had to leave. Consequently, it was decided to have the team stop at La Maddalena in the afternoon of the 9th and to have it leave from there at night ”.

Unfortunately, the hope of obtaining the consent of the Allies to temporarily send the FF.NN.BB. alla Maddalena could not be fulfilled as this request was part of the assignments, entrusted to General Rossi, in the meetings he would have had in Bizerte with General Eisenhower. A request that could not be advanced, as the evolution of events forced (?) Badoglio, on the night of the 8th, to change the program foreseen for the transfer of the King and theGovernment,deciding that, instead of La Maddalena, they went to Pescara and from there to Brindisi.

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