Junio Valerio Borghese
By Chris Degl’Innocenti
Junio Valerio Borghese was born on 6 June 1906. He was born in Rome into the wealthy Borghese family of the Italian ‘black nobility’. In 1922, Borghese attended the Accademia Navale in Livorno. He began his naval career in 1929 and was a submarine commander by 1933. During the outbreak of the Spanish Civil war, Borghese commanded the modern 600-Serie Perla class submarine Iride.
In World War Two, Borghese was assigned to the 620-ton, Serie Adua class submarine, ‘Scire’. Scire’s mission was to transport experimental ‘human-torpedoes’ manned by frogmen and use them to sink or damage allied shipping in various ports in the Mediterranean and surrounding waterways.
These attacks proved so successful, that King Victor Emmanuel knighted the ‘Black Prince’. Borghese eventually departed his beloved Scire, and began to concentrate on a human torpedo attack of New York City. This plan almost materialized, if not for the Italian armistice.
Following the Armistice on 8 September 1943, Borghese defected to the RSI. He revived the Decima Flottiglia, now purely a land based military unit which flew its own flag. The “XMAS” eventually raised a force of 50,000 men that conducted anti-partisan warfare and systematic torture and executions on partisans and communists alike. On 19 May 1945, Borghese was arrested by American forces, ultimately saving him from execution by a partisan firing squad.
Following the war, Valerio Borghese was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 12 years in prison, but was released in 1949 by the Italian Supreme Court. During the post-war period, Borghese became the president of the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), a right wing party formed by the followers of Benito Mussolini.
Borghese, by then regarded as a figurehead for fascism and anti-communism, left MSI and formed his own ultra right wing movement named ‘Fronte Nazionale’. On 8 December 1970, Borghese plotted a coup d’etat, called the “Golpe Borghese”, but fled Italy to avoid arrest after it failed. Following his escape from Italy, his tumultuous life became more obscure and anonymous. Junio Valerio Borghese died on 26th August 1974 in Cadiz.
Borghese was a naval master who contributed greatly to the Italian frogmen’s success. His guidance and vision led the ‘XMAS’ to noteworthy victories against the allied forces in WWII.