Italian submarine fates

Ships hit by Italian submarines

HMS Calypso

TypeLight cruiser
CountryBritish British

Date of attack12 Jun 1940Time0058
0202 (e)
FateSunk by submarine Alpino Attilio Bagnolini (T.V. Franco Tosoni Pittoni)
Position of attack34° 03'N, 24° 05'E
Complement456 (37 dead and 419 survivors)
Notes At 0050 hours, a dark shadow was observed. It was followed, shortly after, by another. T.V.. Franco Tosoni Pittoni believed these may have been escorting vessels and at 0056 hours, he was rewarded by the sighting of two small cruisers of the CALEDON class, proceeding at 20 knots.

At 0058 hours, Alpino Attiglio Bagnolini fired a single torpedo (533mm) from a bow tube aimed at one of the cruisers at 1,500 metres. This was a surface attack. Tosoni Pittoni was about to order the firing of a second torpedo, when the first hit and he withheld his fire and took his submarine down to 60 meters expecting to be depth-charged. He missed the main body of the Mediterranean Fleet, which passed about 2 to 5 miles to the east.

His victim was the light cruiser HMS Calypso proceeding with HMS Caledon. They were steering 310° and stationed about 6 miles on the port wing of HMS Warspite who was in company with HMS Malaya and HMS Eagle. The destroyers of the 2nd Flotilla and 14th Flotilla were screening the battle fleet ahead. They were HMS Nubian (D.14), HMS Mohawk, HMS Dainty, HMS Janus, HMS Juno, HMS Hyperion (D.2), HMS Havock, HMS Hero, HMS Hereward, HMS Hostile, HMS Hasty, HMS Ilex and HMS Imperial.

HMS Calypso was hit on the starboard side and sank at 0335. One officer and thirty-six ratings were missing. Twenty-five officers and 394 ratings were picked up. Six officers and 133 ratings by HMS Caledon, and nineteen officers and 261 ratings by HMS Dainty.

Initially, it was hard to believe the cruiser had been victim of a submarine attack since no torpedo track had been sighted and it was doubted that a submarine could have moved inside the screen undetected. The possibility of sabotage at Port Said was even entertained.

The success of T.V. Franco Tosoni Pittoni's attack had one negative side. It seem to confirm that an economy of torpedoes could be justified and it was not necessary to fire salvoes of torpedoes. Subsequent experiences would not support this view.

See full details on this warship in our Allied Warships section.

Position of attack

Ships hit by Italian submarines