Italian submarines in World War Two

Italian Commanders

Primo Longobardo

Born  19 Oct 1901Maddalena (Sassari)
Died  15 Jul 1942(40)Killed in action


  C.F.Capitano di Fregata


  Croce al merito di guerra
  Ufficiale dell'ordine della Corona d'Italia
  Cavaliere dell'ordine dei santi Maurizio e Lazzaro
8 Apr 1939 Medaglia d'argento al valore militare
19 Dec 1941 Medaglia d'argento al valore militare
7 Mar 1947 Medaglia d'oro al valore militare (posthumous)

Career information

From 21.09.1940, served as Head of FLOTOSOM Augusta and Head of 3° GRUPSOM (Messina).
LUIGI TORELLI (C.F. C.O.): from 07.10.1940 to 27.03.1941.
PIETRO CALVI (C.F. C.O.): from May 1942 to 15.07.1942 (sunk, Longobardo was killed).

Commands listed for Primo Longobardo

Submarine Type Rank From To
Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)Ocean goingC.F.7 Oct 194027 Mar 1941
Pietro Calvi (CV, I.1)Ocean goingC.F.Jun 194215 Jul 1942

Ships hit by Primo Longobardo

DateSubmarineShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.15 Jan 1941Luigi TorelliNemeaCargo ship5,101GreekSunk
2.15 Jan 1941Luigi TorelliBraskCargo ship4,079NorwegianSunk
3.16 Jan 1941Luigi TorelliNicolaos FilinisCargo ship3,111GreekSunk
4.28 Jan 1941Luigi TorelliUrlaCargo ship5,198BritishSunk

War patrols listed for Primo Longobardo

 SubmarineDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
1.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)9 Nov 19401530Bordeaux9 Nov 19401800PauillacPassage Bordeaux-Pauillac. Longobardo had just returned from a patrol on U-99 (KK Otto Krestchmer) after joining her as an observer on 30th August.

2.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)10 Nov 19400815Pauillac10 Nov 19401115Le VerdonPassage Pauillac-Le Verdon.

3.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)10 Nov 19401145Le Verdon10 Nov 19402030La PallicePassage Le Verdon-La Pallice.

4.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)11 Nov 1940AMLa Pallice11 Nov 19401500La PalliceTrials at Le Pertuis d'Antioche.

5.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)12 Nov 19401400La Pallice26 Nov 19401700Bordeaux1764Sailed for Atlantic patrol in (1) between 56°20'N and 57°20'N, 19°00 W and 21°00'W. (2) between 55°20'N and 56°20'N and east of 20°10'W. Uneventful, except for the bad weather.

6.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)5 Jan 19411230Bordeaux5 Jan 19411500PauillacPassage Bordeaux-Pauillac.

7.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)9 Jan 19411130Pauillac9 Jan 19411700Le VerdonPassage Pauillac-Le Verdon and trials.

8.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)9 Jan 19411700Le Verdon5 Feb 1941Time?Pauillac4301Sailed for patrol west of Scotland (1) between 58°00'N and 59°30'N, and between 17°00'W and 20°00'W and from 2130 hours on 22nd January 1941 ordered to (2) between 54°00'N and 55°00'N, and between 17°00'W and 20°00'W. Following this patrol, Longobardo was awarded the Medaglia d'argento and left the boat. He took command of Calvi in 1942 and was lost with her.
  14 Jan 19411130At 1130 hours, Torelli was informed of a convoy of four or five unescorted ships steering 225° and altered course to 270° at 13 knots to intercept.

At 0900 hours on the 15th, the chase was abandoned when nothing was sighted.
  15 Jan 19412120
2100 (e)
52° 33'N, 24° 13'WAt 1625 hours, smokes were sighted on the horizon. As Torelli closed, it was determined that it was a convoy steering 230° at 8-9 knots.

At 2120 hours, she attacked the leading ship in the formation, firing a stern shot (533mm, S.I. type) from a distance of 400 metres. It hit somewhere between the bridge and the stem.

This was the Greek Nemea (5,101 GRT, built 1919) of convoy O.B. 272.

The vessel was initially abandoned but then boarded by twenty survivors from the Norwegian Brask and rejoined by the Greek survivors. They attempted to get her underway, but she was finally abandoned on 17th January 1940. Fourteen of the Greek crew were rescued and seventeen perished.
  15 Jan 19412148
2048 (e)
54° 00'N, 23° 58'W
(0) Italian Grid 2471/41
At 2148 hours, Torelli fired two torpedoes (1 x 533mm, S.I. type, 1 x 450mm, W 200 type) from bow tubes, aimed at the second ship in the convoy. Both were claimed to have hit, but survivors confirm only one. She sank.

This was the Norwegian Brask (4,079 GRT, built 1911) proceeding from Ardrossan to Table Bay and also dispersed from convoy O.B. 272.

The Master and twelve were missing. Survivors later boarded the abandoned Nemea (see previous entry). Twenty were rescued and landed at Londonderry.
  15 Jan 19412351
2100 (e)
52° 33'N, 24° 13'WAt 2351 hours, Torelli fired a torpedo (450mm, W 200 type) from a stern tube at 500 metres at a steamer. She took avoiding action and the torpedo missed.

This was the Greek Nicolaos Filinis (3,111 GRT, built 1904), also dispersed from convoy O.B.272.

At 0021 hours on 16th January, a second torpedo (533mm, S.I. type) was fired, this time from a bow tube, at 400 metres. It hit just ahead of the bridge. She was not sinking quickly, so Torelli pumped 27 100mm rounds into her to finish her off.

Three were killed and twenty-six were later rescued.

At 1000 hours, the submarine submerged to reload the five tubes.
  20 Jan 19410635
0535 (e)
59° 00'N, 19° 00'W
(0) Approximately.
At 0620 hours, Torelli was proceeding at a depth of 40 metres, when propellor noises were heard followed by the Hastings (ASDIC) pings. She went down to 60 metres.

At 0635 hours, the vessel was heard to pass directly above, followed by three very close explosions . A minute later, another six, more distant, detonations were heard. The submarine went down to 120 meters. She had only been slightly damaged.

This was the destroyer HMS Legion escorting the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Salopian. They had been searching for the British steamer Zealandic (10,578 GRT, built 1928), sunk by U-106 on 16th January 1941 while sailing independently. She had sent an SOS reporting attacked in 58°28' N, 20°43' W.

At 0720 hours, (Rome time, there were still three hours of darkness left) the submarine surfaced, intending to attack one of the destroyers sighted at 1,200 meters, but she she was firing star shells and exploring the seas with her searchlights. The attack was abandoned.
  20 Jan 19410900
0700 GMT (e)
59° 00'N, 19° 00'WAt 0900 hours, a destroyer was sighted moving at 6-7 knots at a distance of 1,200 metres. Torelli closed to 600 metres and fired a single torpedo (533mm, S.I. type) from a stern tube. The torpedo had barely been launched when the vessel was observed to alter course and it missed. A second torpedo (450mm, W 200 type) was immediately fired, but also missed. Shortly after, a second destroyer appeared and the submarine fired a third torpedo from a stern tube (450mm, type W 200) at 1,000 metres. The destroyer appeared to slow down considerably and the torpedo missed ahead. Torelli went deep and the two destroyers appeared to carry a systematic search with their ASDIC. Eighteen depth charges were counted, but they exploded harmlessly at some distance from the submarine.

The first target was probably the destroyer HMS Somali (D.6) who attacked a U-boat unsuccessfully while in company with HMS Matabele, HMS Bedouin and HMS Tartar. They had screened the battleship HMS King George V during operation PARCEL, the visit of this battleship by Churchill at Scapa Flow and its departure for the USA carrying Lord Halifax as the new ambassador to Washington.
  27 Jan 1941144554° 30'N, 15° 30'W
(0) Approximately.
At 1445 hours, a submarine chaser was observed at 2,000 metres on an opposite course. Torelli took avoiding action.
  28 Jan 19412100
2042 or 2130 (e)
54° 54'N, 19° 00'WAt 1132 hours, a smoke was observed very far. Torelli trailed the vessel under frequent rain squalls.

At 2100 hours, a single torpedo )533mm, S.I. type) was fired from a bow tube at a distance of 400 metres. It hit amidship and the vessel sank rapidly bow first.

This was the British Urla (5,198 GRT, built 1924) on a voyage from Halifax to Manchester, a straggler of convoy HX 102. All forty-two crew members were later rescued.

9.Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)6 Feb 19411200Pauillac6 Feb 19411530BordeauxPassage Pauillac-Bordeaux.

Pietro Calvi (CV, I.1)26 Jun 19421630Bordeaux26 Jun 19422113Le VerdonPassage Bordeaux-Le Verdon. Stopped at Pauillac to change pilot at 1928 hours on 26th June.

Pietro Calvi (CV, I.1)27 Jun 19420720Le Verdon27 Jun 19421800La PallicePassage Le Verdon-La Pallice.

10.Pietro Calvi (CV, I.1)2 Jul 19421800La Pallice15 Jul 19420020SunkSailed for Caribbean through position 25°00'N, 30°00'W (on 15 July). Carrying a full complement of torpedoes (314 rounds of 12 cm, 11 x 533 mm W.533/270 7.2 m, 8 x 450 mm W.400/180 or 200 5 m, the forward tubes were equipped with 533 mm and the stern tubes with 450 mm, she carried 426 tons of fuel). Daily positions survived in Longobardo's rough log. She was told by BETASOM to chase a vessel of the ANDALUISA STAR class, but this order was later cancelled. No attacks were carried out except in her last action when she was sunk by HMS Lulworth (Lt. Cdr Clive Gwinner, RN) in 30°07'N, 26°07'W. Her captain was killed by gunfire, three officers and thirty-two ratings were later picked up by HMS Bideford and HMS Londonderry (escort leader, Cdr John Standley Dalison, RN), six officers and thirty-seven ratings were killed or missing. The presence of a U-boat (U-130 who had been sighted by Calvi) forced Lulworth to abandon the rescue. Lt. (E) F.W. North, RN, who had boarded the submarine, was drowned when the submarine suddenly sank. According to British Naval Intelligence, Calvi was the 47th Italian submarine to have been lost at this time (the correct number was 49 if one includes a midget submarine lost in the Black Sea). Longobardo was awarded the Medaglia D'Oro posthumously.
  14 Jul 19422100
(e) 29° 50'N, 26° 06'W
(0) Positions also given: 30°07 N, 26°07 W and 30°35 N, 25°58 W.
The submarine fired two stern torpedoes (450mm) at an enemy warship but missed. This was the sloop HMS Lulworth, part of the escort of convoy S.L.115. With HMS Londonderry and HMS Bideford, she had been chasing U-130 and had now sighted the Italian submarine.

At 1903 hours, HMS Lulworth (former USCG cutter Chelan), stationed ahead of the convoy SL.115, sighted two submarines within a short time. The first, U 130, had turned away and the second, Pietro Calvi, was sighted at a distance of 12 miles. The sloop decided to concentrate her efforts on the latter. The Italian submarine had dived and at 2023 hours, an ASDIC contact was obtained at a distance of 1,600 yards and a first pattern delivered, these were nine depth charges set at depths ranging from 50 to 140 feet. At 2037 hours, another nine depth charges were dropped set from 150 to 300 feet. A final pattern of ten depth charges was dropped at 2045 hours, they were set at a depths from 350 to 550 feet.

At 2054 hours, the submarine was brought to the surface and was illuminated by snowflake and starshell and then by searchlight. At 2100 hours, Pietro Calvi fired two stern torpedoes (450mm) at HMS Lulworth but missed. She attempted to defend herself with her two 120mm guns but could only fire off two rounds before HMS Lulworth quickly overwhelmed her with accurate fire from her 3inch gun and the 0,5inch Browning machine guns. At 2107 hours, HMS Lulworth tried to ram her and struck a glancing blow and the Italian crew surrendered.A British officer, Lt. (E). North tried to enter the submarine to recover documents but was drowned when Pietro Calvi suddenly sank. The arrival of the second U-boat (U-130) forced the sloop to temporarily abandon the rescue of the survivors and these were later picked up by HMS Bideford and HMS Londonderry (escort leader, Cdr John Standley Dalison, RN). Three officers and thirty-two ratings were recovered. Forty-three were killed or missing including Primo Longobardo.

When Commander Dalison heard the name of the submarine captain, he was greatly chagrined as he had befriended Longobardo before the war and kept a silver cigarette case he had received for his birthday from the future Italian captain with the inscription "Con molta amicizia. Shanghai. 26.12.29 . Primo Longobardo". Dalison had served at the time on HMS Berwick and Longobardo on the gunboat Sebastiano Caboto and they had become friends.

Longobardo was awarded the Medaglia D'Oro posthumously.

19 entries. 12 total patrol entries (10 marked as war patrols) and 9 events.

Italian Commanders

Italian Submarines