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Tankers Alabama, Dentice, Sangro and Recco

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Hello again.
Another thing I was trying to clarify were the fates of the tankers Alabama, Dentice, Sangro and Recco and of their crews.
They were all four among the 250+ Italian merchant ships left outside Mediterranean when Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940.

Now, according to a book by Dobrillo Dupuis, “Forzate il blocco!”, both Dentice and Alabama, loaded with respectively 8,000 and 10,000 tons of petroleum, found themselves near Venezuela and were ordered to seek refuge in Maracaibo, but they couldn’t enter there because of their draft; the French cruiser Jeanne d’Arc found the Alabama near the coast and ordered her to follow him, but the master of the Alabama tried instead to run the ship aground. As a result the Jeanne d’Arc opened fire and the Alabama’s forward tanks were immediately hit and exploded, setting the ship ablaze. The survivors, many of whom badly burned, clung to some rafts/floats and drifted for a few days before reaching the coast and receiving aid. Later the Jeanne d’Arc found also the Dentice, but before he could do anything, the Italian master ran the ship aground on an islet, successfully this time, and then set her on fire. The crew refused to be rescued by the French ship, in order to escape capture, and after a few days they managed to repair one of the ship’s lifeboats and to reach the coast.
“Navi mercantili perdute” by the Historical Office of the Italian Navy, instead, gave a different version: the Alabama refuged in Maracaibo and was gunned by French ships, but she did not burn and sink, and instead she ran aground and the engine room and the tanks were voluntarily flooded to prevent capture. She was salvaged by Venezuela and later sold to the USA, sailing as the Panama-flag Osmond, being finally scrapped in 1946. The Dentice was in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, when the war broke out, remained there and on 3 March 1941 was captured (after being probably sabotaged by the crew) and then sold to the USA.

Now, which version is correct? And, moreover, does any know who were the masters of the two ships, how many people composed each crew, and how many perished in the sinking of the Alabama (if she was actually sunk)?

Sangro. From both the above-mentioned books and the Internet sources (e.g. Uboat.net), I know how was this ship sunk (tried to run the blockade leaving Santa Cruz de Tenerife in April 1941, first captured by the HMS Camito, then torpedoed and sunk by a U-Boot while on way to Great Britain). All but 4 or 8 of the Italian crew, and the entire boarding party from the Camito, were lost. Does anybody know if the survivors were 4 or 8, and how many were the victims among the Italian crew?

Last but not least, Recco. She was interned in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but on 19 April 1941 she left for France. According to “Navi mercantili perdute” and Internet source such as: http://www.viverein.org/public/album%20navi%20verticale%20bianco%20finale%201.pdf and this Intelligence report which among other things briefly describes the capture: http://www.defence.gov.au/sydneyii/FinalReport/Report/images/NAA.006.0335.pdf, on 3 May she was intercepted by the AMC HMS Hilary and was scuttled by the crew to prevent capture. The entire crew – nine officers, including the master Castagnola, and 21 men – were captured by the Hilary and spent the remainder of the war in captivity in Great Britain. Quite unexplicably, however, Dupuis in his book writes instead that the ship, after leaving Santa Cruz, was never heard from again, and even after the war her fate remained unknown, presumably sunk with all hands by a mine or a torpedo. I wonder, how was it possible that in 1976 (when the book came out) Dupuis, which otherwise gives pretty accurate information on the fate of a lot of other merchant ships trapped outside the Mediterranean, still did not know that the Recco had been intercepted and scuttled and that the whole crew had been saved?

Why shoud Dupuis have better informations than the Ufficio Storico della Marina Italiane, which in the second edition of Navi Mercantili Perdute (of 1977) says the same "Nulla si seppe della sua sorte."
By the way, Conversion for War (World Ship Society Monograph n. 6, 1983) doesn't mention the interception of "Recco" by Hilary, too. There is only mention of the interception of a "Giannam" (="Gianna M.") 10.05.1941.

The "Navi mercantili perdute" I was referring to was the third edition, 1997.
So both Dupuis in 1976 and the USMM in 1977 believed that the Recco had disappeared with her whole crew, while later it was stated that she had been intercepted by HMS Hilary and scuttled. I wonder, how was it possible that still in 1977 also the USMM didn't know about the Recco? The Intelligence report I have found and linked is back to 1941, and seems to confirm that she was intercepted by the Hilary.

Please check the link to the report - I cannot open it  :-(

Hmm, you are right. I had found that link several months ago and now it doesn't seem to work anymore. Now I have done a brief search and this War Cabinet weekly report came out: http://ukwarcabinet.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/cab-66-16-23-0001.pdf it briefly mentioning that the Recco was intercepted by the Hilary and her crew taken prisoner (although here is said that the Recco was sunk by the Hilary and not scuttled by the crew, but I'm fairly sure that the 'lost' report state that it was the crew who scuttled her, and the British even tried to prevent her from sinking - and this is also stated by the 1997 "Navi mercantili perdute").

Now the mystery for me is to understand how 25 years later the USMM seemed not to know her fate yet. Shouldn't some of the crew, at least the master, report the fate of the ship when they returned from captivity after the war?


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