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Pericle Heusch - RN Eugenio di Savoia

On 15 April, after completing the license at the end of the course, I embarked in Genoa on the Eugenio di Savoia, the flag ship of Adm. Oliva, Commander of the VII Cruisers Division and was immediately assigned to the Artillery Service. In mid-May we moved to La Spezia, remaining at anchor in the Golfo delle Grazie.

From there we left, on 4 August, together with Montecuccoli for the first of the two missions destined to bomb Palermo, already in the hands of the Allies; both missions were not completed as the surprise which was the determining element failed.

On 1 September the changeover of the German liaison officer with the Luftwaffe was announced; on the afternoon of September 6, the landing was confirmed without replacement. There were many conjectures as to the cause of this sudden urgency, but the least likely seemed to be our next surrender. Therefore the officer's landing took place in an atmosphere of cordiality, so much so that he was given a silver cigarette case. But on board we lived in a climate of great uncertainty.

On 8 September, in the morning, the order to be ready to move in two hours calmed the environment. There was a rumor that a great battle was coming! I sent a letter of a few lines to my family and then took care of the usual checks at the power stations, depots and anti-aircraft systems. But, at sunset, the radio announcement of the armistice provoked a first reaction of disbelief and then a silence made even more sad by the shooting of joy that was made by the ships in the Arsenal. People gathered in small groups to seek silent comfort in the company. I spoke to many sailors, the same ones who had returned to Naples as winners fifteen months earlier (Pantelleria 15 June 1942). His tone was thoughtful, but calm: they would obey orders.

Few people managed to sleep that night. We passed the barriers towards one. On 9 September, until about 3 pm, the navigation proceeded calmly: then the German air attacks began which provoked - after the Commander's colorful appreciation, we learned about the opportunity to give silver cigarette cases!

I was on duty in the Shooting Direction (DT) on the starboard side when I heard on the intercom the announcement that the battleship Roma- had been hit. A little later I saw the beautiful ship broken in two like a stick and my astonishment was such that, at the moment, I was unable to think of the victims of the sinking.

After the death of Adm. Bergamini (who raised the sign on Rome) the command of the Naval Force, sailing towards the allied ports, was automatically passed to Adm. Oliva, on the Eugenio di Savoia, but Marcello Celio, assigned to Division Command, had informed me that the connection with Supermarina had been interrupted,

The dawn of September 10th rose in the mist that mingled with the gray sea; in this scenario, which accorded perfectly with everyone's sadness, the encounter with the British naval team took place off Bona.

They boarded the Eugenio di Savoia, which had become the Italian flagship, a Captain of a Vessel, which the golden cords indicated as belonging to the General Staff of the allied CinC, and a Corvette Captain of the RNR (Royal Navy Reserve) who would become our liaison officer (UC). Passing in front of the commemorative plaque of the "clash of Pantelleria", the two officers exchanged a nod of the head and a grimace of admiration (this was confirmed by the UC later). He also embarked on a picket, mostly symbolic, made up of five Royal Marines.

We were ordered to take the 110 ° route that took us to Malta, where we stopped at anchor in the harbor in Marsa Scirocco. On 13 September we left for Alexandria where we waited to know our destiny .....

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