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Carlo Fecia di Cossato

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Carlo Fecia Conte di Cossato

Following orders of BETASOM, the submarine moved to the Caribbean Sea, which was less controlled and heavily sailed by merchant vessels. On the 8th of March the Uruguayan Montevideo (5,800 tons) was sunk after several hours of pursuit. Although neutral, the Uruguayan ship did not have any national symbols.

Having only 9 torpedoes remaining on board, Cossato asked the submarine Finzi, which that had a break down, to transfer its torpedo load. However, the “Finzi” was committed with the nafta supplies to the “Morosini”. Therefore, the “Tazzoli” waited between the Bahamas and Bermuda, and on the 11 of March torpedoed the Panamanense Cignet (3,630 tons).

On the 13 of March it torpedoed the English steam ship Daytonian (6,400 tons). Traveling north, the “Tazzoli” immobilized the petrol ship Athletqueen (8,800 tons) on the 15th of March. Surfacing to complete the sink, the “Tazzoli” had to face strong and vivid artillery resistance. The Tazzoli leveled to periscope depth and rammed the enemy ship. It was able to sink it, but the submarine’s bow was bent 90° degrees for 3 meters, which made the torpedo launcher unusable. This forced a rapid return to Bordeaux, where Fecia Cossato was awarded with the Medaglia d’oro al valor militare for having sunk 6 ships for a total of 29,200 tons, a new record in the Italian Royal navy.

When the repairs were completed, the “Tazzoli” returned to sea on 18 June 1942 it again sailed to the Caribbean Sea. On the following day he again managed to escape an air strike by a Wellington of the 172° RAF squad.

The war situation in the Atlantic had now changed due to the anti-submarine countermeasures that the allied forces organized. Cossato gained the permission to move southeast. Close to Trinidad he sank the Greek steamship Kastor (5,500 tons) and on the following day the petrol ship Havsten (6,100 tons). On the 5th of September he returned to Bordeaux.

A new patrol started on the 14 of November with a course laid in north of Brazil. On 11 December the English Empire Hawk was sunk close to Dutch Guinea, and a few hours later the Dutch Ombilin (5,700 tons) was sunk near Georgetown. In this case the crew was also captured.

On 21 December, the English Queen City was torpedoed and the ship’s crew were recovered. On 25 December despite having one diesel engine broke the US motorship Dona Aurora (5,000 tons) was sunk. Failing to receive the resupply of 8 torpedoes from Cagni scheduled for the 3rd of January, the Tazzoli returned to Bordeaux on 1 February; destroying a Wellington with the machine guns during the return trip.

Fecia Cossata had sunk 20,500 tons on this mission and won another Medaglia d’oro al valor militare. Awarded the command of the torpedo boat Aliseo and of the 3° Mediterranean squad, he was promoted captain of fregata and consecrated with the cross of war to the military value, and the German Knightship of the Iron Cross.

On the 8th of September he was in Bastia with the torpedo boat Ardito, the Mas 543, 18 auxiliary boats and two steamships; part of the crew were Germans. While the corvette Cormorano sailed outside the roadstead, the anti-submarine ships UJ2203 and UJ2219 and 7 German motor ships arrived in port.

At midnight Fecia di Cossato left the port. The Germans attacked and damaged the Ardito and Mas and captured their crews and their commanders with heavy losses. The port commander, the admiral Catalano Gonzaga di Cirella asked and obtained the help of the army that was able to defeat the Germans and constrain them to abandon Bastia between the 8 and 9 September.

Cossato, with the Aliseo and Cormorano, attacked and sank the Nazis’ ships that were running away. This action led him to another Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare.

Travelling at 9.00 o’clock to Portoferraio but rerouted to La Spezia da Supermarina, Cossato with the Duke Aimone D’Aosta on board, transferred the Aliseo to Palermo first and then to Malta, following the armistice clauses.

Being bitter by the role given by the allies to the collaborationist forces, and since the Bonomi government did not give an oath loyalty to the king, Fecia di Cossato refused to obey the new ministry. “No admiral this time we do not have to obey.” he told Admiral Nomis di Pollone, commander of the siluranti.

He was removed from every military position, and stopped from entering in the Official circle when he was at Naples. During this period, it appeared that Fecia Cossato requested several audiences to Umberto di Savoia. The request never arrived on the King’s desk.

On the 27th of August he shot himself in the head with a pistol.

In the last nine months I thought about the sad moral position in which I find myself after the disgraceful defeat of the Navy, to which I resign only because an order from the King that asked us to make a great sacrifice to our military honor to be able to stay the Monarchy stronghold in the moments of peace. You understand what is happening today in Italy, and understand how we were betrayed with no dignity, and ended up by having committed an ignoble gesture without achieving any results. From this situation, I feel great bitterness, distaste for what surrounds me, and what matters the most distaste for myself. […] In the last months I think about the sailors of the Tazzoli, who are honorably at the bottom of the sea, and I believe my post is with them.”

He wrote to his mother. “It is not enough to have feelings, success, money, but something else that I do not have anymore.

Umberto II transferred the remains from Poggioreale to Bologna, and built a tomb close to the ones of the Fecia di Cossato family at his own expense.

With 16 strikes for 86,500 tons, he was the ace of the aces and the second by tonnage of the Italian submarine force in the Second World War. The Italian republic has honored him by naming one of its submarines after him.

F. Mattesini “BETASOM. La guerra negli oceani“ USMM Roma 1993
E. Bagnasco “Submarines of WWII” U.S. Naval Institute Annapolis 1980
D. Brown “Warship losses of WWII” London Arms and Armor 1990
Bagnasco-Rastelli “Sommergibili in Guerra” Albertelli Parma 1989
J. Rowehr “Axis submarine successes” Greenhill 1999
P. Hervieux “I Marconi in Guerra” Storia Militare n.70/1999 Albertelli Ed.
M. Brescia “Gianfranco Gazzana Priaroggia” in Storia Militare 2001 Albertelli ed.
A. Rastelli “Carlo Fecia di Cossato, l’uomo,il mito e il marinaio”Ed.Mursia
G. Pardini “La non scelta del Maresciallo De Bono”Nuova Storia Contemporanea n.3/2001 ed Le Lettere

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  1. La grande frode. Come l’Italia fu fatta Repubblica
    di Franco Malnati