Italian submarines in World War Two

Durbo (DU)

TypeCoastal / Sea going 
ClassAdua (23) 
Laid down 8 Mar 1937 Odero-Terni-Orlando, Muggiano
Launched6 Mar 1938
Commissioned1 Jul 1938
End service
Loss date18 Oct 1940
Loss position35° 57'N, 4° 00'W
Fate Scuttled on 18th October 1940 to the east of Gibraltar in position 35°57'N, 04°00'W after being forced to surface by depth charges from the destroyers HMS Firedrake and HMS Wrestler.


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
T.V. Armando Acanfora10 Dec 193818 Oct 1940

Ships hit

No ships hit by this submarine.

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
1Acanfora, Armando9 Jun 19401405Augusta19 Jun 19401051Augusta961Sailed with Beilul and patrolled in Gulf of Hammamet and Sicilian Channel, between Cape Bon and Pantelleria, with Beilul in an adjacent area.
  9 Jun 19401710
(0) Off Augusta.
At 1710 hours, Durbo was passed by the destroyers Lanciere and Corazziere (her report reads Carabiniere, but this is an error). Ten minutes later, she was passed by the light cruisers Alberico Da Barbiano and Luigi Cadorna. The four warships had sailed from Augusta on a minelaying mission (minefield LK, west of Lampedusa).
  10 Jun 19401000
(0) SW of Pantelleria.
At 1000 hours, the Da Barbiano squadron was sighted returning from their minelaying mission. It had been detected with hydrophones an hour before.
  11 Jun 19400110
(0) North of Pantelleria?
An illuminated merchant vessel was sighted. No action was taken. Italy was at war since 0000 hours on the 11th.
  11 Jun 19401149
(0) SW of Pantelleria.
At 1149 hours, a 3,000-ton French steamer (one funnel, two masts) was sighted at a distance of 3,000 metres, proceeding at 8-10 knots toward the Sicilian Channel.
  16 Jun 1940061036° 06'N, 11° 33'EAt 0558 hours, in heavy seas, the hydrophones picked up the noises of a vessel. Durbo came to periscope depth to observe a large destroyer of the AIGLE class at a distance of 4,500 metres, steering 036°, 16 knots.

At 0610 hours, a pair of torpedoes (one 533mm and one 450mm of W.200 type) were fired at a range of 2,000 metres. After two minutes, a loud explosion was heard. The propeller noises diminished considerably and disappeared after ten minutes. Durbo had gone deep and did not surface until 1000 hours when nothing could be seen.

The attack was possibly on the French destroyer L'Alcyon who reported an explosion near her.

Following the French Armistice, the C.I.A.F. (Italian Armistice Commission with France) learned that the French submarine Morse was missing off Tunisia. It was assumed that Durbo had sunk her and T.V. Acanfora was awarded the Medaglia d'Argento. However, the wreck of Morse was located by a French seaplane on 16th August 1940. She had actually been the victim of an error in navigation and had entered a French defensive minefield southeast of Sfax.
  16 Jun 19401202
(0) SW of Pantelleria.
At 1202 hours, a 10,000-ton tanker was sighted at a distance of 8,000 metres. She passed out of range.

Acanfora, Armando1 Jul 19400917Augusta1 Jul 19401132Augusta5Exercises

2Acanfora, Armando4 Jul 19402317Augusta12 Jul 19401830Augusta528Patrolled off Malta in 35°25'N, 13°06'E on a patrol line (SE-NW axis) with Capponi and Pisani.

Acanfora, Armando22 Jul 19401005Augusta22 Jul 19401246Augusta5Exercises

3Acanfora, Armando29 Jul 19402309Augusta2 Aug 19401740Augusta328Patrolled off Malta, 30 miles east of Delimara Point and on 29th July, ordered to 40 miles south of Delimara Point. Uneventful.

Acanfora, Armando14 Aug 19401514Augusta14 Aug 19401702Augusta6Exercises.

Acanfora, Armando16 Aug 19401020Augusta16 Aug 19401206Augusta6Exercises.

Acanfora, Armando27 Aug 19400910Augusta27 Aug 19401205Augusta6Exercises.

4Acanfora, Armando2 Sep 19401925Taranto4 Sep 19401018Taranto223Patrolled east of Malta, within 10 miles from 35°40'N, 16°00'E on a NE-SW axis on a patrol line with Berillo. Very quickly recalled. Uneventful.

Acanfora, Armando7 Oct 19401140Augusta7 Oct 19401805MessinaPassage Augusta-Messina for docking.

5Acanfora, Armando8 Oct 19401340Messina18 Oct 19402130Sunk2570Patrolled between 36°10'N and the Spanish coast and 02°30'W and 04°25'W (70 miles east of Gibraltar or near Alboran). Sighted only two Spanish ships before being located by two Saunders-Roe London Flying boats of 202 Squadron (RAF) and finally sunk by the destroyers HMS Firedrake and HMS Wrestler in 35°54'N, 04°17'W.
  18 Oct 1940
1725 (e)

(e) 35° 57'N, 4° 00'W
This attack is not well documented as the submarine did not return from patrol.

At 1725 hours, two Saunders-Roe London Flying boats of 202 Squadron based at Gibraltar, attacked a submarine which had just submerged. They were K.5909 piloted by Flying Lieutenant N.F. Eagleton and K.5913 piloted by Flying Lieutenant P.R. Hatfield). They dropped depth charges and smoke floats and their activity brought HMS Firedrake (Lieutenant Commander Stephen Hughes Norris, RN) and HMS Wrestler (Lieutenant Commander Edmund Neville Vincent Currey, RN) of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla to the scene.

This was Durbo ,who she attempted to escape by diving first to 65 metres and then to 130 metres.

At 1725 hours, HMS Firedrake observed the flying boats carrying an attack at a distance of 8 miles. Steering toward the spot at 24 knots, the destroyer arrived there at 1800 hours. ASDIC contact was made at a distance of 1,500 yards.

At 1812 hours, a first attack was made with depth charges set at 250 and 350 feet. Three minutes later, HMS Wrestler arrived on the scene and carried out attacks at 1831 and 1845 hours. Oil was observed rising to the surface.

At 1852 hours, Firedrake attacked again with depth charges set at 350 and 500 feet.

At 1855 hours, the submarine surfaced and exchanged gunfire by Wrestler. Durbo dived again and, at 1857 hours, depth charged by the destroyer.

At 1902 hours, Firedrake returned to the attack with her third pattern set at 250 and 350 feet.

At 1905 hours, the submarine re-surfaced and again dived.

At 1935 hours, Firedrake dropped a fourth pattern set at 350 and 500 feet. In all she had dropped 19 depth charges and HMS Wrestler another 20.

At 1943 hours, Durbo surfaced and was immediately engaged by Firedrake at 1,500 yards and Wrestler at 1,000 yards. Firedrake fired eight 4.7" rounds. The submarine was abandoned and boats were lowered from both destroyers with boarding crews. Sub Lieutenant William Basil Willet, RN and Midshipman Eric Philip Earnshaw, RCN of HMS Firedrake and Sub Lieutenant Meryon, RN and Petty Officer Harold Frederick Brown of HMS Wrestler managed to retrieve important documents. Willet and a rating from HMS Wrestler endeavoured to close the doors to prevent the submarine from sinking, but this proved impossible. The submarine appeared to be sinking from the stern. The boarding crews had just returned to their ship when the scuttling charges blew up and Durbo finally sank with HMS Wrestler only 30 yards from her.

The documents would lead to the sinking of the submarine Lafolè a few days later. The entire crew of Durbo was captured: T.V. Armando Acanfora, four officers and forty-one ratings were picked up by Firedrake and landed at Gibraltar. The following day, they were sent to Liverpool on board the liner Reina Del Pacifico.

16 entries. 11 total patrol entries (5 marked as war patrols) and 7 events.

All Italian submarines