Italian submarines in World War Two

Italian Commanders

Junio Valerio Borghese

Born  6 Jun 1906Rome
Died  26 Aug 1974(68)Cadiz (Spain)


  T.V.Tenente di Vascello
Sep 1940 C.C.Capitano di Corvetta
Dec 1941 C.F.Capitano di Fregata


  Cavaliere dell'ordine militare di Savoia
  Croce al merito di guerra
  Ufficiale dell'ordine della Corona d'Italia
  Cavaliere dell'ordine coloniale della Stella d'Italia
8 Apr 1939 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
2 Jan 1941 Medaglia d'oro al valore militare

Career information

VETTOR PISANI (T.V. C.O.): from 09.05.1940 to 10.09.1940 (promoted C.C. in September 1940).
SCIRÈ (C.C. C.O.): from 11.09.1940 to 29.12.1940.
DIASPRO (C.C. C.O.): from 29.12.1940 to 12.02.1941.
SCIRÈ (C.C. C.O.): from 21.02.19410 to 28.05.1942.
Promoted C.F. in December 1941.
From 08.03.1942, Head of DECIMA FLOTTIGLIA MAS.
Joined RSI.

Commands listed for Junio Valerio Borghese

Submarine Type Rank From To
Vettor Pisani (PN)Ocean goingT.V.9 May 194010 Sep 1940
Scirè (SR)Coastal / Sea goingC.C.11 Sep 194029 Dec 1940
Diaspro (DS)Coastal / Sea goingC.C.29 Dec 194012 Feb 1941
Scirè (SR)Coastal / Sea goingC.C.15 Feb 194128 May 1942

Ships hit by Junio Valerio Borghese

DateSubmarineShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.20 Sep 1941ScirèFiona ShellOiling hulk2,444BritishSunk
2.21 Sep 1941ScirèDenbydaleTanker8,145BritishDamaged
3.22 Sep 1941ScirèDurhamCargo ship10,893BritishDamaged
4.18 Dec 1941ScirèHMS ValiantBattleship31,100BritishDamaged
5.18 Dec 1941ScirèHMS JervisDestroyer1,695BritishDamaged
6.19 Dec 1941ScirèHMS Queen ElizabethBattleship32,700BritishDamaged
7.20 Dec 1941ScirèSagonaTanker7,554NorwegianDamaged

War patrols listed for Junio Valerio Borghese

 SubmarineDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Vettor Pisani (PN)4 Jun 19400801Augusta4 Jun 19401516Augusta49Exercises.

1.Vettor Pisani (PN)17 Jun 19401745Augusta23 Jun 19401955Augusta706Patrolled 30 miles west of Malta in 36°00'N, 13°40'E. Uneventful.

2.Vettor Pisani (PN)9 Jul 19400027Augusta12 Jul 19400645Augusta313Patrolled 30 miles west of Malta in 36°40'N, 17°20'E, on a patrol line with Brin, Settimo, Settembrini and Sciesa.
  11 Jul 19402245
(0) Off Augusta.
A submarine which was thought to have been Benedetto Brin. The latter did not report any sighting.

3.Vettor Pisani (PN)15 Jul 19401236Augusta18 Jul 19400835Augusta324Patrolled west of Malta in 35°45'N, 15°30'E on a SE-NW axis, on a patrol line with Brin.
  16 Jul 19401255
(0) Off Malta.
Vettor Pisani was proceeding at a depth of 62 meters when fifteen bombs were dropped by an aircraft. The submarine was undamaged.

Vettor Pisani (PN)22 Jul 19400100Augusta24 Jul 19401720Pola736Passage Augusta-Pola.

Scirè (SR)17 Sep 19400800La Spezia17 Sep 19401500La Spezia18,5Exercises.

Scirè (SR)19 Sep 19400740La Spezia19 Sep 19401750La Spezia36Exercises.

Scirè (SR)20 Sep 19400715La Spezia20 Sep 19401830La Spezia61,5Exercises.

Scirè (SR)21 Sep 19400820La Spezia21 Sep 19401238La Spezia25Exercises.

4.Scirè (SR)24 Sep 19400540La Spezia3 Oct 19401215La Maddalena1646Sailed with human torpedoes to attack Gibraltar, but was recalled 50 miles short of her objective when it was learned that Force H had sailed. The teams were T.V. Gino Birindelli/2° C.Pal. Damos Paccagnini, Cap. G.N. Teseo Tesei/Sg. Pal. Alcide Pedretti and S.T.V. Luigi Durand de la Penne/2° C.Pal. Emilio Bianchi plus in reserve: Ten. G.N. Gian Gastone Bertozzi/2° C. Pal. Enrico Ario Lazzari.

Scirè (SR)8 Oct 19401430La Maddalena9 Oct 19400845La Spezia207Passage La Maddalena-La Spezia.

Scirè (SR)19 Oct 19401500La Spezia19 Oct 19401755La Spezia25Exercises.

Scirè (SR)20 Oct 19400924La Spezia20 Oct 19401205La Spezia3Exercises.

5.Scirè (SR)21 Oct 19400515La Spezia3 Nov 19401930La Spezia2057Operated off Gibraltar (Operation BG 2). Launched three human torpedoes (she carried eight operators, two of them in reserve). Borghese received the Medaglia D'Oro al Valor Militare.
  27 Oct 19400210
(0) Off Almina Point.
At 0210 hours, a destroyer was sighted astern at a distance of 800 metres, apparently proceeding from Europa Point to Almina Point at slow speed.

The submarine crash-dived.
  27 Oct 19402345
(0) Off Almina Point.
At 2345 hours, a destroyer was sighted steering 080° at high speed.

The submarine crash-dived.
  28 Oct 19400000-0600
(0) Off Almina Point.
During the night, four destroyers were sighted on an A/S hunt. The submarine managed to escape by stopping all motors and letting herself drift with NE current.
  29 Oct 19400245-2035
(0) Off Gibraltar.
At 0245 hours, with batteries fully charged and air completely replenished, the submarine submerged and proceeded to enter the Straits of Gibraltar at 3,5 knots at a depth of 70 metres.

At 0410 hours, a destroyer passed exactly above the submarine, her propellers quite audible to the submariners' ears.

At 2035 hours, the submarine surfaced and proceeded on electric motors toward Gibraltar.
  30 Oct 19400121-0239
(0) Gibraltar.
At 0121 hours, the submarine reached the point established in the plan, and bottomed in 10 metres, 350 metres from the Spanish coast. The SLC operators began to prepare for the exit.

At 0219 hours, the submarine surfaced. Three minutes later, the six operators and the two reserve operators and their assistants (T.G.N. Gastone Bertozzi and Sergente Palombaro Ario Lazzari) exited and the submarine submerged again.

At 0239 hours, outside noises made it clear that the three SLCs had left.

At 0257 hours, Scirè surfaced and recovered the two reserve operators. The submarine began the return trip. Breathing was becoming difficult and on three occasion she had to surface to regenerate the air but she reached La Spezia without further difficulties.

The SLC attack failed. Only one torpedo (T.V. Gino Birindelli/2° Capo Palombaro Damos Paccagnini) managed to enter Gibraltar. The torpedo failed them when they were closing on the battleship HMS Barham. At 0705 hours, Birindelli was captured on the commercial mole and Paccagnini was picked up by armed the trawler HMT Empyrean. Their torpedo exploded at 0817 hours on the 30th, but caused no damage. The other two pairs, manned by Capitano G.N. Teseo Tesei/Sergente Palomboro Alcide Pedretti and by S.T.V. Luigi Durand de La Penne/2° Capo Palombaro Emilio Bianchi, were plagued by defects. They failed to penetrate the base and escaped to Spain.

Scirè (SR)9 Dec 19400942La Spezia9 Dec 19401633La Spezia51Exercises.

Scirè (SR)15 Dec 19401430La Spezia16 Dec 19401615La Spezia82Exercises.

Scirè (SR)17 Dec 19400920La Spezia18 Dec 19401630La Spezia86Exercises.

Diaspro (DS)13 Jan 19410935Cagliari13 Jan 19411110Cagliari1,5Trials?

6.Diaspro (DS)21 Jan 19411525Cagliari22 Jan 19412335Cagliari201,7Patrolled south of Sardinia to replace Corallo who had to interrupt her mission because of defects. Early return because Diaspro also had defects.

Scirè (SR)26 Jan 19410936La Spezia26 Jan 19411343La Spezia29Exercises.

7.Diaspro (DS)9 Feb 19410057Cagliari11 Feb 19411226Cagliari294,5Patrolled east of La Galite from 37°30'N, 09°50'E to 20 miles northward. Borghese was criticised by Rear-Admiral Oliva for submerging from 2400 hours to 0155 hours on the 10th and ignoring instructions issued on 20th January to Mediterranean submarines to operate on the surface during dark hours for at least the first 15 minutes of each hour.

Scirè (SR)20 Feb 19411003La Spezia20 Feb 19411200La Spezia7Exercises.

Scirè (SR)22 Feb 19411500La Spezia22 Feb 19411647La Spezia5Exercises.

Scirè (SR)7 Apr 19410921La Spezia7 Apr 19411510La Spezia9,1Exercises.

Scirè (SR)8 Apr 19410920La Spezia8 Apr 19411540La Spezia32Exercises.

Scirè (SR)9 Apr 19410925La Spezia9 Apr 19411442La Spezia4Exercises.

Scirè (SR)11 Apr 19410818La Spezia11 Apr 19411722La Spezia56Exercises, escorted by the auxiliaries Crotone and Capodistria and tug 55.

Scirè (SR)12 Apr 19410809La Spezia12 Apr 19411355La Spezia5Exercises.

Scirè (SR)16 Apr 19410910La Spezia16 Apr 19411845La Spezia28Exercises with the tug Favignana.

Scirè (SR)18 Apr 19410845La Spezia18 Apr 19411133La Spezia6Exercises.

Scirè (SR)22 Apr 19410805La Spezia22 Apr 19411837La Spezia62Exercises with midget submarine CB 1 and the tugs Torre Annunziata, Capodistria and Crotone.

Scirè (SR)23 Apr 19410710La Spezia23 Apr 19411720La Spezia66Exercises.

Scirè (SR)5 May 19411045La Spezia5 May 19411455La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)5 May 19411930La Spezia6 May 19410808La Spezia1Exercises.

Scirè (SR)6 May 19411134La Spezia6 May 19411425La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)6 May 19412016La Spezia7 May 19410742La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)8 May 19411410La Spezia8 May 19411945La Spezia19Exercises.

Scirè (SR)9 May 19411100La Spezia9 May 19411505La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)9 May 19412005La Spezia10 May 19410808La Spezia8Exercises.

8.Scirè (SR)15 May 19412000La Spezia23 May 19412345CadizSailed and crossed the Gibraltar Straits on 22nd May, to collect a Decima X.Mas team at Cadiz, from the supply ship Fulgor, to attack Gibraltar (Operation BG 3). The team consisted of nine men: T.V. Catalano, Sottocapo palombaro (diver) Giannoni, T.V. Vesco, palombaro Franchi, S,T.V. Visintini, Sottocapo palombaro Magro, Tenente G.N. Marceglia, Sottocapo palombaro Schergat, Capitano medico Falconata.
  23 May 19412345-0430/24
(0) Cadiz harbour.
At 2300 hours, Scirè secretly entered the harbour of Cadiz and at 2345 hours came alongside the supply ship Fulgor (known as Base "C") to collect nine divers of the Decima Flottiglia Mas. They had been flown to Spain on 14th May 1941. They were:

T.V. Decio Catalano
Sottocapo Palombaro (diver) Giuseppe Giannoni
T.V. Amedeo Vesco
Palombaro Amelio Franchi
S.T.V. Licio Visentini
Sottocapo Palombaro Giovanni Magro
Tenente G.N. Antonio Marceglia
Sottocapo Palombaro Spartaco Schergat
Capitano Medico Bruno Falconata.

9.Scirè (SR)24 May 19410430Cadiz31 May 19411855La Spezia2111Sailed with nine members of Decima Flottiglia Mas. Operated off Gibraltar and sent human torpedo attacks (Operation B.G. 3). The team members are T.V. Decio Catalano and S.C. Pal. Giuseppe Giannoni, T.V. Amedeo Vescoand, S.C. Pal. Amelio Franchi and S.T.V. Licio Visintini and S.C. Pal. Giovanni Magro. In reserve: Ten. G.N. Antonio Marceglia and S.C. Pal. Spartaco Schergat [mileage is for round trip].
  26 May 19412358
(0) Off Gibraltar.
At 2320 hours, Scirè had bottomed in 10 metres of water and the SLC operators began their preparations.

At 2330 hours, to the great disappointment of the operators, a signal from SUPERMARINA arrived informing them that the targets were no longer in port. The battlecruiser HMS Renown and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal had sailed on 24th May to hunt the Bismarck.

At 2358 hours, the submarine surfaced, the operators exited and, two minutes later the submarine submerged to enable the departure of the SLCs.

At 0037 hours, the submarine surfaced to recover the two reserve operators and steered for La Spezia.

The operation failed again. The SLC piloted by Vesco broke down and had to be sunk. Soon after, that of Marceglia also had to be abandoned. Only Visintini attempted to attach his two charges to a tanker, but his maiale sank and the attempt was abandoned. The six men swam to the shore and were assisted by the local Italian organization. They soon rejoined Italy.

Scirè (SR)8 Jul 19410855La Spezia8 Jul 19411300La Spezia4Exercises.

Scirè (SR)14 Jul 19410720La Spezia14 Jul 19411937La Spezia23,5Exercises, escorted by the auxiliary Torre Annunziata.

Scirè (SR)16 Jul 19410817La Spezia16 Jul 19411332La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)13 Aug 19410840La Spezia13 Aug 19411748La Spezia28Exercises.

Scirè (SR)22 Aug 19411453La Spezia23 Aug 19411255La Spezia57Exercises.

Scirè (SR)1 Sep 19411224La Spezia1 Sep 19411552La Spezia2Exercises.

Scirè (SR)1 Sep 19412019La Spezia2 Sep 19410015La Spezia11Exercises.

Scirè (SR)9 Sep 19411141La Spezia9 Sep 19411516La Spezia4Exercises.
  9 Sep 19412335
(0) Off S. Bartolomeo.
At 2335 hours, a defective SLC was launched to be repaired.

10.Scirè (SR)9 Sep 19412250La Spezia10 Sep 19410015La Spezia2Sailed for mission, but turned back because of a defective S.L.C., which was launched off S. Bartolomeo to be repaired.
  9 Sep 19412335
(0) Off S. Bartolomeo.
At 2335 hours, a defective SLC was launched to be repaired.
  10 Sep 19411748
(0) Off La Spezia breakwater.
At 1748 hours, Scirè stopped to recover the repaired SLC.

11.Scirè (SR)10 Sep 19411730La Spezia17 Sep 19412338CadizPassage to Cadiz, to pick up the Decima Flottiglia MAS operators from the supply ship Fulgor to attack Gibraltar (Operation BG.4). Several neutral vessels were sighted.
  10 Sep 19411748
(0) Off La Spezia breakwater.
At 1748 hours, Scirè stopped to recover the repaired SLC.
  17 Sep 19412338
(0) Cadiz harbour.
At 2135 hours, Scirè surfaced and proceeded toward the entrance of Cadiz.

At 2338 hours, she came alongside Fulgor and embarked the nine operators of the Decima Flottiglia Mas. They were:

T.V. Decio Catalano
Sottocapo Palombaro (diver) Giuseppe Giannoni
T.V. Amedeo Vesco
S.C. Palombaro Antonio Zozzoli
T.V. Licio Visentini
S.C. Palombaro Giovanni Magro
Capitano G.N. Antonio Marceglia
Palombaro Spartaco Schergat
S.T. Medico Giorgio Spaccarelli

At 0430 hours, Scirè sailed from Cadiz.

12.Scirè (SR)18 Sep 19410430Cadiz25 Sep 19412350La Spezia1994Operated off Gibraltar and launched human torpedoes (Operation BG 4). Several neutral vessels were sighted [mileage is for round trip].
  20 Sep 19410030-0110
(0) Gibraltar.
At 0030 hours, Scirè surfaced for the operators to exit.

At 0052 hours, Scirè submerged to 4.5 metres to allow the departure of the SLCs.

At 0107 hours, the SLCs were heard on the hydrophones to leave.

At 0110 hours, the submarine surfaced to recover the two reserve operators and steered for La Spezia. She was forced to dive by an enemy destroyer at 0637 hours on the 21st, but managed to evade it.

The Vesco/Zozzoli team attacked the Fiona Shell (2,444 GRT, built 1892) who was sunk with one casualty: a Spanish stoker. The two men reached the shore and were released after being briefly arrested by the Spanish police. The Catalono/Giannoni attacked the Durham (10,893 GRT, built 1934) who had to be beached to prevent her from sinking. Visintini and Magro attacked the tanker Denbydale (8,145 GRT, built 1941) who was seriously damaged, all men reached the shore and were recovered. The explosions occurred at 0742 hours (Denbydale), 0816 hours (Fiona Shell) and 0817 hours (Durham).

Following this attack, Borghese was promoted to Commander and the six men received the Medaglia d'Argento. On the afternoon of 8th October a Spanish diver recovered parts of a torpedo in position 346.5° - North Mole Light - 11 cables, a second one was recovered by Spanish divers on the morning of 13th October in 342° - North Mole Light - 12.6 miles.

In a memo dated 12th November 1941, British Naval Intelligence raised the possibility that the attack had come from one of the two Italian ships at Algeciras as big boxes were loaded on one of them prior to the attack.

Scirè (SR)5 Nov 19410910La Spezia5 Nov 19411612La Spezia57Exercises.

Scirè (SR)28 Nov 19410910La Spezia28 Nov 19411830La Spezia31Exercises, escorted by La Masa.

Scirè (SR)2 Dec 19411010La Spezia2 Dec 19411430La Spezia3Exercises.

13.Scirè (SR)3 Dec 19411800La Spezia9 Dec 19412100Leros (Porto Lago)Passage La Spezia-Leros (Porto Lago) for special operation at Alexandria. She carried three SLCs (221, 222 and 223) and ten divers (including four reserve divers) and a medical doctor. The men were embarked at Leros.
  5 Dec 19412110
(0) Off Taormina (Sicily).
At 2110 hours, an enemy submarine was sighted at a distance of 6 miles. She answered her signals with a white light. She took a parallel course to Scirè at 2120 hours at a distance of 5,000 meters. The submarines HMS P 34 (later renamed Ultimatum), HMS Upright and HMS Unique were in the general area, but do not appear to have been involved, although they may have been stationed especially to hunt for U-boats.
  8 Dec 19411050 (IT)
1050 (e)
At 1050 hours, an enemy three-engine aircraft was sighted, which made a recognition signal. Scirè made a signal (green light) but was not answered.

According to Admiral Cunningham's diaries, a RAF reconnaissance plane (possibly a Blenheim bomber of 203 Squadron, 201 Group) sighted the submarine at 1050 hours on the 9th (Scirè gives the same time but dates it as the 8th), correctly described it as similar to Gondar and apparently equipped with "one-man submarines".

14.Scirè (SR)14 Dec 19410700Leros (Porto Lago)21 Dec 19411900Leros (Porto Lago)Operated off Alexandria and launched human torpedoes (Operation G.A.3).
  18 Dec 19412047
(0) 356° - Ras El Tin Light - 1.3 mile
At 1840 hours, Scirè was at the bottom, in only 17 metres of water, in a position 356° - Ras El Tin - 1.3 mile. She then moved slightly southward.

At 2047 hours, the submarine surfaced. The six operators and the two reservists came out. The sea was very calm. The submarine bottomed at 15 metres.

At 2128 hours, the submarine surfaced to recover the two reservists Ten. D.M. Feltrinelli and S.T. Medico Spaccarelli (Medical Officer), but the latter was brought in unconscious, showing very serious symptoms of asphyxia. He was only revived at 0100 hours after vigorous artificial respiration attempts.

At 2133 hours, the submarine submerged and steered for Leros.

The three teams entered the harbour of Alexandria, assisted by the fact the boom was left opened for the return of the 15th Cruiser Squadron. Della Penne reported almost rammed by the leading destroyer of a group of three entering harbour. We know that HMS Sikh, HMS Maori, HMS Legion arrived at that time. They managed to sink their SLC next to the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth (Capo G.N. Antonio Marceglia and Spartaco Schergat with SLC.223) and HMS Valiant (T.V. Luigi Durand della Penne and Capo 3rd class Emilio Bianchi with SLC.221) and the tanker Sagona (7,554 GRT, built 1929) (Capo A.N. Vincenzo Martellotta and Mario Marino with SLC.222).

At 0547 hours, an explosion under the stern of the tanker Sagona seriously damaged her and the destroyer HMS Jervis' bow suffered damages from the same explosion.

At 0606 hours, the battleship HMS Valiant suffered a massive explosion under her "A" turret and sank in shallow waters.

At 0610 hours, the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth [flagship of Admiral Cunningham) was rocked by an explosion in the boiler room and also sank in shallow waters. The six Italian divers were all captured.

SUPERMARINA advised the submarine in its TG of 2115/20.12.1941 that Air Reconnaissance had reported the two battleships hit. This was revealed by the oil leaks around them.

15.Scirè (SR)23 Dec 19410800Leros (Porto Lago)29 Dec 19411100La Spezia3506Return trip from special mission to Alexandria [mileage is for round trip].
  25 Dec 19411245
1240 (e)
At 1245 hours, a three-engine bomber in kaki colour was sighted and made an attack from the stern. Scirè opened fire with her machine-guns at a distance of 800 metres. The aircraft dropped five small bombs, which fell in a single line about 80 metres astern of the submarine and then flew away.

This was Blenheim 'P' of 203 Squadron. It had sighted the submarine steering 270° at 6 knots. The bomber climbed to 1,800 feet before diving to the attack. The submarine's antiaircraft fire failed to inflict any damage. The aircraft actually dropped four 250lb A/S bombs, the closest of these fell 80 yards astern of the submarine.

65 entries. 58 total patrol entries (15 marked as war patrols) and 19 events.

Italian Commanders

Italian Submarines