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Michele Scotto - RN Rome


Michele was unable to respond to the request to talk about his first embarkation and his "8, September 1943" but others answered for him that that day "dies nigro signanda lapillo", he saw and felt attacked by tongues of fire that left imprinted on his body their infernal embrace.

Michele was for 56 years, as many years elapse between the end of Rome and his death, a symbol of life and victory of which we were all proud and proud: but some of us were closer to him in the crucial time of his existence and to them, it is up to talk about him: Marcello Vacca Torelli, Toni Meneghini, Ruri Catalano Gonzaga and Miro Rossi. 

Michele Scotto, assigned to an SDT machine gunner, recounted the beginning of his drama as follows (Bibliography n.15 page 61): "after the fall of this second bomha, I noticed a strong release of steam from the base of the forward funnel. Almost simultaneously a 'huge blaze coming from below hit the superstructures and I lost consciousness ".

Close to him was Marcello Vacca Torelli who, after the explosion of the deposits and the escape of superheated steam from the premises under the platform of the SDT machine guns, found himself on the castle below, on the straight side, aft of the complex 11 from 90. Both they were badly burned but not by the flames, but boiled by the steam and moreover covered by a pile of mooring lines which had certainly fallen on the castle from the deckhouse above. Scotto was unconscious and the Vacca Torelli was helped by someone to free himself and Scotto from the tangle of cables. Marcello, dragging Scotto with him, crossed the Officers' square where the utmost disorder reigned; all the chairs and the large radiogram were a shapeless heap leaning against the starboard bulkhead. He looked for life jackets for himself and Scotto, both in the square and in the nearby room of the guardhouse, temporarily leaving Scotto lying on the castle, on the left near the 152 mm tower ..,.,.

Then comes Toni Meneghini, also seriously injured, who tells: (Bibliography n.15 pag, 96) "At the stern of the medium caliber tower 4 I found Ensign Scotto unconscious and badly burned. , I took off his shoes and some clothes; I then inflated his life jacket. When the water passed the gunwale, I made him go down to the sea and I too followed him, without being able to reach him, because of the much blood lost and my little swimming skills. I found him on the machine gunner's motor launch, when Mr. Costa threw himself into the sea to recover me ".

On board the fighter Scotto receives the first treatment from Ruri Catalano Gonzaga: "While I was intent on accompanying the burned and wounded, I saw one wearing a blue pupil's sweater. His face and hands were devastated by flames: he was a being completely unrecognizable human. I leaned over him and placing my mouth near his ear, one ear that was hardly there anymore, I asked him: "Who are you? Tell me who you are! "He answered in a faint voice, which sounded like a moan:" Ruri, I am the Octopus! (his nickname in the Academy - ed) I'm Scotto, help me, help me! ".

It was not easy for me to deal with the dressing of a face and hands so devastated by the fire that I asked for help from Dr. Sala, engaged with Incisa della Rocchetta "" Doctor what can I do for terrible burns? "Sala replied:" Look for a fat, any fat and spread it lightly on your skin, get by! ". I remembered seeing a can of" Linetti "grease on a shelf in Moris's dressing room, and I ran to get it, then I did as the doctor told me. It was just a palliative but still some greasy stuff: maybe it would even relieved the pain a little, maybe it would have toned up that poor burnt skin.At the end of the opeazione it seemed to me that Scotto felt better, even if maybe it was just my hope, but the most important thing was only one: he was alive! "

Then came the hospitalization in the small Plana Island hospital in Port Mahon, where Scotto was lovingly cared for by the "Hijas de la Caridad" nuns, in particular by Sister Emilia and Sister Rosa Sanz (whom he returned to thank thirty years later with great gratitude). But the hospital was inadequate for the severity of the injuries and Michele was transferred to Barcelona to save the life of his eyes.

Thus he had at his side, for part of his long and difficult convalescence, a fourth guardian angel, Vladimiro Rossi, as described in his file, to which we refer.

Here are some parts of the commemoration of Michele made by Marcello Vacca Torelli on the occasion of a Mass of suffrage celebrated in the Church of Santa Lucia in Rome, with the participation of the Sharks residing in the capital.

"I would like to highlight what concerns his personality and his noblest expressions: courage, stoicism, will, determination, constancy, commitment .............. .

I remember well the spirit with which, at 23, he learned that he had lost an eye. His reaction marked by courage, philosophy, resignation and even irony towards such an adverse fate, astonished those who were close to him. And yes, he already knew that the burns had now compromised the physiognomy and functionality of his hands.

When in '47 - '48 we of SM met in Livorno for the Upper Course, Michele was being treated by the ophthalmologists because his one eye was still suffering from the after-effects of the thermal shock. The doctors were, stato  clear: "Your eye must be spared, do not strain it, do not read in artificial light, otherwise you risk losing that too". They had even limited his study hours. Well, Michele tried so hard that he was first in the course in the final exams. so he intended to prove to himself that his mutilation and his impairments did not make him inferior to the others ..., .. Here, this clearly revealed his character and made him the character we appreciated and appreciated ".

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