Italian submarines in World War Two

Iride (IR)

TypeCoastal / Sea going 
ClassPerla (22) 
Laid down 3 Sep 1935 Odero-Terni-Orlando, Muggiano
Launched30 Jul 1936
Commissioned6 Nov 1936
End service
Loss date22 Aug 1940
Loss position32° 16'N, 23° 14'E
History Sunk on 22nd August 1940 in the Bay of Bomba (between Derna and Tobruk), by a torpedo from a Swordfish aircraft of 824 Squadron (belonging to the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, but temporarily based at Dekheila, west of Alexandria).


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
C.C. Francesco Brunetti7 Jun 194022 Aug 1940

Ships hit

No ships hit by this submarine.

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Brunetti, Francesco1300SunkSunk by FAA Swordfish.

Brunetti, Francesco7 Jun 19400935La Spezia7 Jun 19401830La Spezia47Exercises.

Brunetti, Francesco9 Jun 19400815La Spezia9 Jun 19401000La Spezia8Exercises.

Brunetti, Francesco11 Jun 19401650La Spezia11 Jun 19402050La Spezia10Exercises.

Brunetti, Francesco12 Jun 19401345La Spezia12 Jun 19402000La Spezia36Exercises with the submarine Zoea.

Brunetti, Francesco14 Jun 19400830La Spezia14 Jun 19401200La Spezia6Exercises.

1Brunetti, Francesco14 Jun 19401935La Spezia19 Jun 19401015La Spezia349Sailed to form a patrol line with Scirè in 135° - Capo dell'Arma - 10 miles, between Cape Noli and Capo dell'Arma (French border).

2Brunetti, Francesco20 Jun 19402015La Spezia28 Jun 19401120La Spezia896Patrolled in 43°00'N, 05°05'E, off Marseilles.
  23 Jun 1940031542° 30'N, 5° 05'EAt 0305 hours, a shadow was sighted at a distance of 2,500 metres. It appeared to be a large armed vessel steering on a northerly course (toward Marseilles).

At 0315 hours, a torpedo (533mm) was fired from a bow tube at a range of 700 metres, followed ten seconds later by a second one. Both torpedoes missed. Iride was now withdrawing by steering 090° at a depth of 30 metres, when she was shaken by an explosion followed by four more. She escaped by going down to 80 metres.

Brunetti, Francesco3 Jul 19400820La Spezia3 Jul 19401335La Spezia?Exercises.

Brunetti, Francesco4 Jul 19401400La Spezia5 Jul 19401100La Maddalena214Passage La Spezia-La Maddalena.

3Brunetti, Francesco10 Jul 19400050La Maddalena12 Jul 19400705La Maddalena?Patrolled 310° - Asinara Point - 65 miles. On a patrol line with Argo, Scirè and Diaspro.

Brunetti, Francesco14 Jul 19400730La Maddalena15 Jul 19401415La Spezia214Passage La Maddalena-La Spezia.

Brunetti, Francesco22 Jul 19400830La Spezia22 Jul 19401830La SpeziaExercises.

Brunetti, Francesco31 Jul 19401830La Spezia31 Jul 19402000La SpeziaExercises.

Brunetti, Francesco2 Aug 19400620La Spezia3 Aug 19400145La SpeziaExercises.

Brunetti, Francesco5 Aug 19400825La Spezia5 Aug 19401820La SpeziaExercises.

4Brunetti, Francesco12 Aug 19401100La Spezia14 Aug 19401850MessinaPassage La Spezia-Messina.

4bBrunetti, Francesco16 Aug 19401620Messina21 Aug 1940Menelao Bay (Gulf of Bomba)Passage from Messina to Menelao Bay (Gulf of Bomba).

4cBrunetti, Francesco22 Aug 1940Menelao Bay (Gulf of Bomba)22 Aug 19401200SunkThe submarine was anchored in Menelao Bay and was expected to sail the next day for operation GA.1, an attack by the Decima Flottiglia MAS on Alexandria. She was torpedoed by a Swordfish from HMS Eagle (but based at Dekheila, near Alexandria) and sunk.
  22 Aug 19401200
1258C (e)
32° 16'N, 23° 13'E
(0) 85° - 1.5 mile from Ras Megara (Gulf of Bomba).
At 1200 hours, Iride was anchored in the bay of Ain El Gazala (AKA Menelao Bay) in the Gulf of Bomba, when she came under air attack from Swordfish of 824 Squadron, belonging to HMS Eagle but based at Dekheila (west of Alexandria). Air reconnaissance of the previous day had reported the presence of the submarine. Swordfish torpedo bombers were moved from Dekheila to the airstrip of Ma'aten Bagush near Sidi Barrani, to be able to get within striking range.

Three aircraft took off on 22nd August, they were piloted by Captain Oliver Patch, RM (leader), Lieutenant (A) Neville Addison Fyers Cheesman, RN and Lieutenant (A) John Walter George Wellham, RN. The flight navigator was Midshipman (A) Gordon John Woodley, RNVR who exhibited great skill as the flight came over the sea and was in sight of land only when the attack occurred.

At 1258C hours, the three Swordfish attacked from the northwest, flying at a height of only 30 feet. The main target was Iride, cruising at the time 4 miles off the coast. She was observed to open fire with two twin-mounted machine guns. The other ships present also opened fire. Captain Patch launched his torpedo, which squarely hit the submarine and broke her in half. She sank in 14-16 metres of water. Lieutenant Wellham launched his torpedo at the auxiliary minelayer Monte Gargano from a distance of 500 yards. The ship had opened fire, hitting the aircraft with a single bullet causing minor damage. She was also struck, caught fire and sank. Lieutenant Cheesman is reported to have launched his torpedo at a second submarine alongside a destroyer and she also sank. In fact, there were no second submarine present (an Italian report mentions that two torpedoes struck Iride). At the time it was claimed that four ships had been sunk or seriously damaged with three torpedoes when in fact only Iride and Monte Gargano (three wounded) had been sunk but the raid had nevertheless been very successful. The torpedo boat Calipso had been present but was only slightly damaged (two killed or missing, four wounded).

Iride was in the process of taking the SLCs from the torpedo boat Calipso who had brought them from La Spezia. Of her crew, five men were picked up and six men were rescued from the sunken submarine (three officers and thirty ratings were killed). Rescue efforts were soon under way with the assistance of the torpedo-boat Calipso and the tugs Egadi and Luigi Rizzo. Eight men had been located in the submarine and eventually seven made their escape, the eighth was too scared to leave the submarine but S.T.V. Luigi Durand De La Penne (who later achieved fame for his Alexandria attack) entered the submarine and after 12 minutes managed to bring him out by lending him his own Davis apparatus. In all fifteen men of the crew of Iride survived including T.V. Brunetti.

19 entries. 19 total patrol entries (4 marked as war patrols) and 2 events.

All Italian submarines