Italian submarines in World War Two

Italian Commanders

Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia

Born  30 Aug 1912Milan
Died  23 May 1943(30)Killed in action


  T.V.Tenente di Vascello
16 May 1943 C.C.Capitano di Corvetta


29 Jan 1942 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
30 Mar 1942 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
17 Aug 1942 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
16 Nov 1942 Medaglia d'argento al valore militare
10 May 1943 Medaglia d'argento al valore militare
11 Mar 1949 Medaglia d'oro al valore militare (posthumous)

Career information

MALACHITE (T.V. First Officer): from 05.10.1938 to ?
DURBO (T.V. First Officer): from June 1940 to ?
MALACHITE (T.V. C.O.): from 27.08.1940 to 08.11.1940.
ENRICO TAZZOLI (T.V. First Officer): from December 1940 to ca. March 1942.
ARCHIMEDE: from 21.04.1942 to 10.08.1942.
REGINALDO GIULIANI (T.V. C.O. temp.): on 04.09.1942 briefly took over command, replacing T.V. Galzigna who had been wounded and attempted to sail the submarine from Santander (Spain) to St. Jean De Luz. The attempt failed and he ceded command back to Galzigna.
LEONARDO DA VINCI (T.V. C.O.): from 10.08.1942 to 23.05.1943 (sunk, Gazzana Priaroggia was killed).
Promoted to C.C. on 16.05.1943.

Commands listed for Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia

Submarine Type Rank From To
Malachite (MH)Coastal / Sea goingT.V.27 Aug 19408 Nov 1940
Archimede (AH, I.31)Ocean goingT.V.21 Apr 194210 Aug 1942
Reginaldo Giuliani (GN, I.14, UIT.23)Ocean goingT.V.4 Sep 19424 Sep 1942
Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)Ocean goingT.V.10 Aug 194223 May 1943

Ships hit by Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia

DateSubmarineShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.15 Jun 1942ArchimedeCardinaCargo ship5,586PanamanianSunk
2.2 Nov 1942Leonardo da VinciEmpire ZealCargo ship7,009BritishSunk
3.4 Nov 1942Leonardo da VinciAndreasCargo ship6,566GreekSunk
4.10 Nov 1942Leonardo da VinciMarcus WhitmanCargo ship7,176AmericanSunk
5.11 Nov 1942Leonardo da VinciVeerhavenCargo ship5,291DutchSunk
6.14 Mar 1943Leonardo da VinciEmpress of CanadaTroop transport21,517BritishSunk
7.19 Mar 1943Leonardo da VinciLulworth HillCargo ship7,628BritishSunk
8.17 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciSembilanCargo ship6,633DutchSunk
9.17 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciLCP-780Landing Craft11BritishSunk
10.17 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciLCP-782Landing Craft11BritishSunk
11.18 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciManaarCargo ship8,007BritishSunk
12.21 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciJohn DraytonCargo ship7,176AmericanSunk
13.25 Apr 1943Leonardo da VinciDoryssaTanker8,078BritishSunk

War patrols listed for Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia

 SubmarineDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Malachite (MH)22 Oct 19400730Pola22 Oct 19401622Pola46Exercises.

Malachite (MH)29 Oct 19400710Pola29 Oct 19401522Pola52,5Exercises.

Malachite (MH)30 Oct 19401107Pola30 Oct 19401830Pola15Exercises.

Malachite (MH)2 Nov 19400930Pola2 Nov 19401725Pola56Exercises.

Archimede (AH, I.31)26 Apr 19421530Bordeaux26 Apr 19422020Le VerdonPassage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

Archimede (AH, I.31)29 Apr 19420910Le Verdon29 Apr 19421820La Pallice83Passage Le Verdon-La Pallice and trials at Le Pertuis d'Antioche.

Archimede (AH, I.31)30 Apr 1942La Pallice30 Apr 1942La PalliceExercises.

1.Archimede (AH, I.31)1 May 19421610La Pallice4 Jul 19421110Bordeaux10178Sailed for patrol off the coast of Brazil between 36°00'W and 40°00'W, and between 02°30'S and the South American coast.
  4 May 1942192044° 24'N, 11° 50'WAt 1920 hours, the conning tower of a submarine steering 045° was sighted. Archimede turned 30° to port to avoid it.
  13 May 19420020At 0020 hours, the submarine received a report from Bagnolini that a steamer had been sighted in 14°45' N, 28°05' W steering 005°, 16 knots. Archimede altered course to 218° and reached the intercepting position and then steered 185°, but sighted nothing.
  23 May 19420938
0736 (e)
2° 10'S, 35° 55'WAt 0850 hours, the lookouts of Archimede observed a light on the horizon. The submarine closed and recognised it as a vessel on fire, led 500 metres ahead by an American destroyer of the MAURY class. The submarine maneuvered to position herself ahead of them when a large warship was sighted on the starboard beam at 2,000 metres. T.V. Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia opted to attack this warship.

At 0938 hours, Archimede fired two torpedoes from bow tubes at 1,200 metres and immediately dived. 58 seconds later two explosions were heard. As the submarine had reached a depth of 60 metres, a depth charge exploded very near her. Gazzana Priaroggia took his boat to 110 and 120 metres. About 30 more depth charges were heard distributed in five patterns. At 1130 hours, the sound of the propellers faded away. At 1330 hours, Archimede surfaced.

The vessel on fire was the Brazilian tanker Comandante Lyra (torpedoed by Barbarigo) being towed by the seaplane tender USS Thrush. The light cruiser USS Milwaukee and the Brazilian tug Heitor Perdigao were also in the vicinity. It is unclear if the light cruiser was the target of Archimede but, both torpedoes missed and no torpedo wake was sighted. At 0736 hours, the destroyer USS Moffett
  23 May 19421450
1025 or 1300Z (e)
2° 10'S, 35° 55'W
(0) Approximately.
At 1450 hours, a seaplane was sighted. It was similar to the Ro 43 and was followed at 1458 hours by a Catalina. The submarine kept them at bay by firing her deck guns and machine guns, but the Catalina attacked as two destroyers appeared on the horizon.

The seaplane was an SOC (scout observation catapult) plane (Curtis Seagull) from the cruiser USS Milwaukee, unsuccessfully attacked earlier in the day by Archimede. The Catalina was P-2 (#7623) of VP-83 based in Natal, Brazil, piloted by Lt(jg) A.R. Waggoner.

At 1516 hours, the destroyers started dropping depth-charges, about a dozen exploded until 2245 hours. The submarine surfaced at 0030 hours on the 24th, sighted the two destroyers at a distance of 3,000 meters and turned away.

In fact, the destroyer was again the USS Moffett (DD-362).
  25 May 194203301° 20'N, 35° 25'WAt 0030 hours, Archimede was informed that an American naval force was reported in 03°55' S, 35°00' W steering 330°, 15 knots and the submarine had altered course to 310° to intercept.

At 0330 hours, the silhouette of a destroyer was observed but very quickly Archimede lost sight.
  25 May 194220301° 20'N, 35° 20'WAt 2030 hours, a tanker escorted by a destroyer was sighted steering 170°, 12 knots. Archimede was not in a favourable position to attack and, at 2215 hours, was sighted by the destroyer and forced to submerge.
  2 Jun 194223501° 10'N, 38° 45'WAt 2350 hours, an illuminated Swedish ship was sighted steering 320°, 10 knots.
  4 Jun 194212002° 05'N, 9° 00'WAt 1200 hours, a steamer was sighted zigzagging on a 300° course at 13 knots. Archimede chased it until 2330 hours, when contact was lost in a rain squall.
  8 Jun 194204302° 25'N, 40° 00'WAt 0430 hours, an Argentine steamer was seen steering 300°, 9 knots.
  12 Jun 194207401° 55'N, 45° 45'WAt 0740 hours, the Spanish steamer Cabo De Monroe (?) was sighted steering 300°, 8 knots.
  12 Jun 194218402° 00'N, 45° 25'WAt 0840 hours, an Argentine steamer was sighted steering 300°, 9 knots.
  15 Jun 19421630
1145 or 1445 GMT (e)
3° 55'N, 42° 40'W
(0) Approximately. Submarine position at 1315 hours.
At 1315 hours, in 03°55' N, 42°40' W, a steamer was observed steering 315° at 9 knots.

At 1630 hours, two torpedoes (450mm) were fired from the stern tubes at a distance of 1,500 metres. One scored a hit after 78 seconds.

This was the Panamanian Cardina (5,586 GRT, built 1919) on passage from Buenos Aires to New York via Trinidad, carrying 7,000 tons of Linseed. According to T.V. Gazzana Priaroggia, she fired one round at the submarine's periscope. Survivor reports do not mention that gunfire was used. The torpedo had hit in hold no. 5 and the crew quickly abandoned ship without orders. However, as the ship did not sink, the crew returned aboard within the hour. Some repairs were made and an SOS sent although it does not appear to have been received.

In the meantime, Archimede had moved away, to a distance of 5,000 metres, to verify if the ship was sinking.

At 2400 hours, when the target did not seem to sink, a torpedo (533mm, S.I. 270 type) was fired from 300 metres and hit, making a large hole in her side. The submarine fired eleven 100mm rounds, three at least scored hits and she finally sank at 0045 hours.

The thirty-four survivors were distributed in four lifeboats and reached Salinas (Brazil). There were no casualties.
  17 Jun 19420455
0320 (e)
6° 30'N, 41° 00'WAt 2130 hours on 16th June, a steamer was observed zigzagging on a very irregular course, varying from 350° to 170° at 12 knots. T.V. Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia requested from BETASOM the permission to attack. This was quickly authorised.

At 0455 hours, having now determined that the vessel's true course was 350°, Archimede had been closing on a parallel course and fired a torpedo (533mm) from a bow tube at a distance of 200 metres. The torpedo wake was observed to miss the stern by a few metres.

This was the American steamer Columbian (4,964 GRT, built 1918), bound from Trinidad for Capetown. She opened fire on the submarine, firing two rounds (one was claimed a hit, but the submarine was undamaged) and machine gun bursts at the submarine who replied with her Breda guns and took some distance.

At 0935 hours, the submarine made one last attempt by firing a torpedo (533mm, S.I. type 270) from a bow tube at a distance of 3,000 metres. It missed and the submarine, short on fuel, gave up the chase.
  27 Jun 1942134531° 35'N, 22° 35'WAt 1345 hours, a convoy of about twenty ships including a cruiser and ships with two or three funnels was observed at a distance of 18,000 metres, steering 170°, 14 knots. Archimede submerged at 1421 hours and tried to attack but could not close to less than 15,000 meters. When surfacing again at 1600 hours, it was realised that the convoy had changed course and was now too far to intercept.
  27 Jun 1942181531° 35'N, 22° 35'WAt 1815 hours, a destroyer was sighted steering 135°. Archimede dived.
  27 Jun 1942213031° 35'N, 22° 35'WAt 2130 hours, a destroyer was sighted on a northerly course. Archimede dived.

Archimede (AH, I.31)31 Aug 19421030Bordeaux31 Aug 19421530Le Verdon50Passage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

Archimede (AH, I.31)1 Sep 19420850Le Verdon1 Sep 19421515La Pallice65Passage Le Verdon-La Pallice.

Archimede (AH, I.31)3 Sep 19420830La Pallice3 Sep 19421315La Pallice30Exercises.

2.Reginaldo Giuliani (GN, I.14, UIT.23)4 Sep 19422200Santander4 Sep 19422200+SantanderT.V. Gianfranco Gazzana arrived at 1230 hours on 4th September and briefly took over command. Attempted to sail for St. Jean de Luz at 2200 hours the same evening (from where the submarine chaser UJ-1408 was expected to escort her to Bordeaux) but was thwarted by the Spanish authorities. He then ceded command again to T.V. Aredio Galzigna.

Archimede (AH, I.31)6 Sep 19421035La Pallice6 Sep 19421522La Pallice29Exercises.

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)9 Sep 19421623Bordeaux9 Sep 19422030Le Verdon45Passage Bordeaux-Le Verdon carrying the midget submarine CA.2.

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)10 Sep 19420800Le Verdon10 Sep 19421750La Pallice72,8Passage Le Verdon-La Pallice and exercises with the midget submarine CA.2.

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)21 Sep 19420955La Pallice21 Sep 19422015Le Verdon72,8Passage La Pallice-Le Verdon and exercises with CA.2?

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)22 Sep 19421415Le Verdon22 Sep 19421755Bordeaux45Passage Le Verdon-Bordeaux with CA.2? [It is remarkable that barely two weeks later Da Vinci reverted to her previous role and sailed on patrol?]

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)6 Oct 19421510Bordeaux6 Oct 19421730Le Verdon48Passage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)7 Oct 19420930Le Verdon7 Oct 19421300Le VerdonTrials.

3.Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)7 Oct 19421945Le Verdon6 Dec 19421600Bordeaux9442Patrolled off Cape Verde and off Cape San Rocco.
  8 Oct 1942163044° 33'N, 3° 44'WAt 1630 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  9 Oct 1942170244° 04'N, 6° 09'WAt 1702 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  11 Oct 1942131043° 45'N, 10° 36'WAt 1310 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  12 Oct 1942133541° 48'N, 13° 04'WAt 1335 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  16 Oct 1942203034° 07'N, 20° 00'WAt 2030 hours, a submarine was sighted. Da Vinci went to action station but the submarine turned away at a faster speed and disappeared at 2055 hours.
  17 Oct 1942045333° 16'N, 20° 00'WAt 0453 hours, a steamer was sighted. Da Vinci closed, but she turned out to be a Spanish tanker steering 025°.
  20 Oct 1942030026° 45'N, 19° 40'WAt 0300 hours, Da Vinci received BETASOM's order (1718/19) to move to an area delimited by 15°00' N and 16°00' N and 29°00' W and 30°00' W. The submarine altered course to 218° and this was reached at 1800 hours on the 25th.
  27 Oct 19421957
1930 GMT (e)
11° 30'N, 29° 55'WAt 1957 hours, a motorship was sighted steering 350°, 15 knots. The submarine gave chase but could not catch up.

At 2132 hours, an SOS was intercepted by Da Vinci:

"SSS position 11°46' N, 29°52' W Palma sighted submarine 1930 GMT 27".

This was the British Palma (5,419 GRT, 1941).
  2 Nov 19420756
0655 GMT (e)
0° 12'S, 30° 41'WAt 0713 hours, a steamer was sighted zigzagging at 9 knots, on a mean course of 290°.

At 0756 hours, a pair of torpedoes (533mm, S.I. type) was fired from the bow tubes at a distance of 1,000 metres. Both hit but the vessel remained afloat.

From 0805 to 0820 hours, Da Vinci opened fire, delivering 12 100mm and 90 13.2 mm rounds. Fire was checked when the crew was observed to abandon ship. She could not make an SOS as her radio had broken down.

This was the British Empire Zeal (7,009 GRT, built 1942) in ballast, on passage from Durban to Trinidad. She was armed with a single 102mm gun and twin 9mm machine guns.

At 0905 hours, gunfire was resumed and she sank. Of the crew of fifty-two, the Master William MacPherson and First mate Samuel Haines were made POWs. Forty-nine survivors in two boats were picked up by the destroyer USS Winslow (DD-359) at 1000 hours GMT on 4th November.
  3 Nov 19420105
2217/2 (e)
1° 14'S, 32° 35'WAt 1740 hours on 2nd November, a vessel was sighted from a distance of 7,000 metres, steering 290° at 9 knots. Da Vinci attempted a submerged approach but could not sufficiently close the range. At 1918 hours, she surfaced and gave chase.

At 0105 hours on 3rd November, a pair of torpedoes (450mm, W 200 type) were fired from the stern tubes at a distance of 700 metres. They missed astern.

This was the Dutch Frans Hals (6,626 GRT, built 1941), she reported being narrowly missed by 2 or 3 yards.

At 0142 hours, the submarine fired another pair of torpedoes (533mm, S.I. type) from bow tubes. Although they were armed with magnetic pistols and set at a depth of 6 metres, both torpedoes apparently missed under without exploding. This was confirmed by the Third Officer F. de Haan of Frans Hals who sighted three torpedoes passing under the ship at 2230 hours (local time), one under hold no. 5, one under hold No. 4 (this appeared to have hit but failed to explode) and one under the propeller.

At 0200 hours, the vessel made an SOS identifying herself and giving her position as 00°22' S, 32°22' W.

Da Vinci attempted to make five successive attacks but was foiled by the zigzagging of the target.

At 0437 hours, the submarine had finally gained a good position and fired a pair of torpedoes (533mm, A.I. type) from the bow tubes at a distance of 400 metres. This was a surface attack but Da Vinci had to submerge as the enemy firing was now accurate. She fired two 4" rounds and about 40 rounds of Oerlikon ammunition. One 4" round was claimed to have hit the submarineé. It had indeed hit the conning tower. Leading Seaman Frederick Morgan who was in charge of the gun crew was awarded the Bronze Cross by the Dutch Government. Frans Hals also dropped a single depth charge within 100 yds. A torpedo hit was heard after 19 seconds but this has not been confirmed. Frans Hals also dropped a single depth charge within 100 yds. At 0454 hours, the explosion was heard and may have induced T.V. Gazzana Priaroggia to believe that the ship and blown up.

At 0515 hours, Da Vinci had to surface as water was entering through the hole in the conning tower. A large oil slick was sighted and it was thought that the enemy ship had sunk. In fact, Frans Hals had made good her escape.
  3 Nov 19421330
1225Z (e)
0° 50'S, 31° 45'WAt 1330 hours, a four-engine seaplane was sighted. Da Vinci immediately dived. She had reached a depth of 16 metres when she was shaken by five explosions. It was assumed that they had occurred on the surface as the only damage done was a few broken light bulbs.

The aircraft was Catalina PBY-5A P-10 (No. 2733) of USN squadron VP-83 piloted by Lt.(jg) G.E. Waugh based in Natal. It had homed to the area by HF/DF bearings and obtained a radar contact before getting a visual sighting. Actually, four depth charges were released and the submarine was strafed. There was no evidence of damage except for boiling waters for 5 minutes after the attack.
  3 Nov 194219400° 18'S, 31° 33'WAt 1940 hours, an aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  4 Nov 19422208
2215Z or 2155 GMT (e)
1° 10'S, 29° 57'WAt 1730 hours, a smoke was sighted on the horizon. It appeared to be a steamer zigzagging at 9 knots on a 130° course.

At 2208 hours, a torpedo (450mm, W 200 type) was fired from a stern tube at a distance of 700 metres. It missed. The torpedo wake was not observed from the submarine but it had obviously been seen by the target as she made an SOS at 2210 hours.

This was the Greek Andreas (6,566 GRT, built 1919) bound from Trinidad for Alexandria via Capetown with 8,500 tons of military supplies.

At 2304 hours, the attack was renewed with two torpedoes (533mm, S.I. type) from the bow tubes at a range of 400 metres. One used a magnetic pistol of the S.I.C. type, the other used a standard pistol. They both missed.

At 2330 hours, the vessel made an SOS: "SSS 1°30' S 2°23' W Gunned submarine Andreas at 2200 GMT".

At 2340 hours, a fourth torpedo (450 mm, W 200 type) was fired from 700 metres and this time hit. The vessel was damaged but afloat. Da Vinci finished her off with gunfire and she sank at 0007 hours on 5th November.

Of the crew of forty-one and eight passengers, five survivors were picked up by the submarine. They were: Chief Officer Spyros Andrea Phocas, Estonian salor Josep Meister, British sailor Richard Bradstow Kewley and gunners James Jones and Edward Boscall. Five other survivors reached Trinidad. On 10th November, a lifeboat with nineteen survivors landed near Ceara (Fortelaza).
  10 Nov 19420014
2315 GMT (e)
5° 24'S, 32° 41'WAt 0931 hours on 9th November, a vessel was sighted zigzagging very irregularly on a 310° course. Visibility was good and Da Vinci trailed her from a respectful distance to avoid being seen.

At 0014 hours on 10th November, two torpedoes (450mm, A 115 type) were fired from stern tubes at distance of 1,000 metres. Just after firing, the vessel altered course but one torpedo hit her, giving a running range of 1,600 metres.

This was the American Marcus Whitman (7,176 GRT, built 1942) proceeding in ballast from Capetown to Dutch Guyana. She was armed with one 4" gun, four .50 caliber and two .30 caliber machine guns. The torpedo had hit aft in no. 5 hold.

At 0017 hours, she made a distress signal, which was partly scrambled by Da Vinci: "SSS BRTH Torpedoed Marcus 5°31' S 33°06' W 2315 GMT".

At 0116 hours, a third torpedo was fired from a stern tube (450mm, W 200 type) from 1,000 metres. It hit, but the vessel refused to sink. Da Vinci finally finished her off with gunfire, scoring hits with about 20 rounds. Marcus Whitman fired back with two 4" rounds from a range of 1,500 yards. They missed.

At 0219 hours, a fourth torpedo was fired from a stern tube (450mm, W 200 type) from 400 metres. After a run of 150 metres, it suddenly deviated to port and missed ahead, but the vessel was already sinking.

The order to abandon ship had been given 15 minutes after the first torpedo had hit. The entire crew of fifty-two took to four lifeboat. They reached the Brazilian coast on 11-12th November. There were no casualties.
  11 Nov 19420611
0315 (e)
3° 51'S, 29° 24'WAt 0300 hours, a vessel was sighted steering 350°. Da Vinci took a position to meet her head on.

At 0611 hours, the submarine opened fire with her deck and Breda guns from a distance of 400 metres and immediately scored several hits.

This was the Dutch Veerhaven (5,291 GRT, built 1930) on passage from Buenos Aires to the United Kingdom via Trinidad. At 0315 GMT she had made an SOS signalling she was torpedoed in 03°51' S, 29°22' W. In fact, no torpedoes were used and she was sunk by gunfire.

There were no casualties. The forty-five survivors took to two lifeboats. Twenty-three were picked up by the Brazilian submarine chaser Gurupi (ex USS PC-547) in 06°11 S, 33°10' W on the 13th. Twenty-two were picked up after five days by the Argentinian tanker Juvenal.
  11 Nov 194209453° 46'S, 29° 25'WAt 0945 hours, two aircraft were seen and the submarine dived.
  11 Nov 194219002° 36'S, 28° 39'WAt 1900 hours, a large transatlantic liner was seen steering 170°, 20 knots. She was too fast for the submarine and the chase was abandoned.
  28 Nov 1942120530° 04'N, 25° 07'WAt 1205 hours, the submarine Enrico Tazzoli was met and between 1235 to 1850 hours she took 25 tons of fuel from Da Vinci (30 tons according to Tazzoli) and also transferred a sick rating. The process was not without difficulty as the hose broke twice.
  30 Nov 1942195937° 45'N, 18° 36'WAt 1959 hours, an illuminated ship was sighted steering 265°. Da Vinci closed but turned away when she was recognised to be Portuguese.
  4 Dec 1942082344° 58'N, 8° 07'WAt 0823 hours, a large aircraft was seen at 1,1500 metres and the submarine dived.
  4 Dec 1942105844° 58'N, 8° 23'WAt 1058 hours, an aircraft was seen at 1500 metres and the submarine dived.
  5 Dec 1942153045° 04'N, 4° 58'W
(0) Approximately.
At 1530 hours, several Spanish fishing vessels were sighted. Da Vinci took some fresh fishes for consumption from one of them.

4.Leonardo da Vinci (LV, I.8)20 Feb 1943EveningBordeaux23 May 19431135 GMTSunk with all handsPatrolled in Indian Ocean. On 16th May she had announced her arrival for 29th May and that she was on her way to the point 40°00'N, 17°30'W. On 26th May she was informed that she might encounter Giuliani near Cape Ortegal, but she was silent. On 23rd May, she was sunk by the destroyer HMS Active and the frigate HMS Ness in 42°16'N, 15°40 W or 290 miles west by south of Cape Finisterre. No survivors: nine officers and fifty-four ratings missing.
  13 Mar 1943
2353Z (e)
1° 00'S, 10° 00'WWe have no exact details from the attacks that followed as Leonardo Da Vinci did not return from this patrol.

At about 2356Z hours on 13th March, she fired two stern torpedoes (450mm) from the stern tubes at a large liner. One scored a hit.

This was British Empress Of Canada (21,517 GRT, built 1928, Captain George Gould) proceeding from Capetown to Freetown, unescorted, at 18.5 knots. She was damaged and brought to a stop.

At 0040Z hours on 14th March, a third torpedo (450mm) was fired. She was hit and sank at about 0115Z hours.

Exact figures are contradictory. Some sources report there were 1,844 passengers and crew, 1,519 survivors (some sources give the number at 1,497) were picked up by HMS Boreas, HMS Petunia , HMS Crocus and HMS Corinthian. She carried some 499 Italian PoWs. There were some 392 victims (44 crew members, 8 gunners and 340 passengers, mostly Italian PoWs).

Da Vinci managed to pick up an Italian doctor: Army doctor Sub-Lieutenant Vittorio Del Vecchio, who was later transferred to Finzi and survived.
  19 Mar 19430500?
0400Z (e)
11° 00'S, 0° 35'EAt 0400Z hours, Da Vinci torpedoed the British Lulworth Hill (7,628 GRT, 1940) bound from Capetown to Freetown. She was sunk by two hits. Da Vinci picked up one survivor who later transferred to Finzi. Survivors reported being machine-gunned by a German submarine. This must be an error as it is unlikely that T.V. Gazzana Priaroggia would have resorted to murder. Fourteen survivors took to a life raft, but only two were found alive after 49 days when HMS Rapid picked them up on 7th May 1943.
  19 Mar 19432158-234012° 30'S, 2° 30'EAt 2158-2340 hours, Leonardo Da Vinci met Giuseppe Finzi and transferred the two survivors from Empress Of Canada and Lulworth Hill. Finzi gave her 90 tons of fuel, three torpedoes (450mm, A 115 type), provisions and lubricating oil. It was the last time friendly eyes were set on the most famous submarine of the Regia Marina.
  17 Apr 19431230?
1130B (e)
32° 30'S, 35° 10'EAt 1130B hours, the Dutch Sembilan (6,633 GRT, built 1922), carrying ammunition and LCP-780 and LCP-782 from Glasgow to Durban, was torpedoed and sunk by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The crew of 86 was made up of 28 Dutch, 11 British (2 Telegraphists and 9 gunners), 1 Polish engineer, 38 from British-India and 8 from the Dutch East Indies. There was only one survivor, an Indian lascar named Shamshen, who was picked up by the Da Vinci. He had a broken leg and was transferred to a Manaar lifeboat when this vessel was herself sunk the following day. Survivors of Manaar and the only survivor of Sembilan, were picked up on 29th April 1943.
  18 Apr 1943
0515Z sunk (e)
33° 55'S, 33° 41'EAt 0315B hours, the British Manaar (8,007 GRT, built 1942), bound from Mombasa and Beira to Durban, was intercepted by Da Vinci and hit by a torpedo in no. 1 hold on the starboard side. The crew abandoned ship but the vessel did not sink immediately.

At 0430B hours, survivors apparently another torpedo hit in no. 4 hold on the port side.

Between 0545 and 0710 hours, the submarine also used her gun, firing intermittently about 23 100mm rounds of which 12 were hits. The ship sank at 0720 hours.

Four were killed, 94 survivors including a lascar, the only survivor of Sembilan picked up earlier by Manaar, reached Port St Johns (South Africa) in four boats on 21st April 1943. The second Officer was picked up by the submarine and lost with her. Survivors described the submarine as about 300 ft long, freshly painted slate grey, no wood deck visible. One 4" deck gun flush on deck, two large machine guns on conning tower. According to the lascar, the crew numbered about 24 (over 60!) and were apparently mixed Italian and German (they were all Italians!).
  21 Apr 1943
1815Z (e)
33° 25'S, 34° 10'EAt 1815Z hours, Da Vinci fired four torpedoes at the American John Drayton (7,176 GRT, built 1942). She was travelling from Bahrein to Capetown. Two missed ahead and one astern, but one hit. The submarine finished her off with gunfire. About ten rounds are reported to have hit and the ship sank. Although the American ship was armed with a 5" gun and two 0.5 caliber machine guns, she did not fire on the submarine.

She had a crew of fifty-six. There was only one casualty during the attack. Eleven survivors were picked up by Oscar Gorthon and landed at Lourenco Marques. They claimed to have been attacked by two U-boats. The destroyer HMS Relentless picked up the master and thirteen survivors on 27th April 1943 in 33°39' S, 32°39' E. Eight survivors were found in a dinghy off Durban by the Greek Mount Rhodope, but three died in hospital on 20th May 1943.
  25 Apr 1943
1726Z (e)
37° 05'S, 33° 55'EAt 1726Z hours, Da Vinci torpedoed the British tanker Doryssa (8,078 GRT, built 1938) on a voyage from Cape Town to Abadan.

At 1845Z hours, a second torpedo hit Doryssa and she was finished by gunfire.

Fifty-three were killed. Eleven were rescued by the minesweeping whaler HMSAS Southern Barrier at 1115Z hours on 30th April 1943 and they reported that other survivors had been killed by shell fire while in their boats. This was the second time that such an accusation was levelled at the crew of Da Vinci (the first was during the sinking of Lulworth Hill). It may have been an impression, as perhaps the submarine fired above the lifeboats at the tanker. Da Vinci had now expended all her torpedoes and was returning to base. She made her last signal on 30th April 1943 and apparently was located by HF/DF at approximately 600 miles NW of Capetown.
  23 May 1943
1143-1223 (e)

(e) 42° 16'N, 15° 40'W
At 1130 GMT hours, HMS Active was escorting convoy K.M.F.15 (from the Clyde to Algiers), when a submarine was sighted at 6,000 yards. Shortly after, it was also sighted by HMS Ness, screening convoy W.S. 30 (from the Clyde to Bombay). The two convoys would sail together until 25th May.

The submarine crash-dived. HMS Active closed and obtained an echo at 2,900 yards.

At 1143 GMT hours, HMS Active dropped a pattern of ten depth charges set at 150 and 300 feet.
At 1150 hours, HMS Ness dropped ten depth charges (150 and 300 feet)
At 1158 hours, HMS Active came back for another pattern of ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet).
At 1212 hours, HMS Ness dropped ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet).
A double explosion was heard by the two escorts.
At 1223 hours, HMS Active dropped ten depth charges (350 and 550 feet).
At 1240 hours, a small amount of wood and cork wreckage came to the surface as well as life-jackets, coffee tins marked "Napoli" and a pair of fresh human lungs.
At 1305 hours, HMS Ness dropped ten depth charges (500, 550 and 700 feet).

It is believed that Leonardo Da Vinci was sunk in this attack. The most famous Italian submarine disappeared with all hands. Nine officers and fifty-four ratings perished. On 16th May, T.V. Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia had been informed of his promotion to Capitano di Corvetta.

64 entries. 21 total patrol entries (4 marked as war patrols) and 46 events.

Italian Commanders

Italian Submarines