The "forgotten" corvettes, by Marco Ghiglino

Begonnen von de domenico, 27 Oktober 2018, 15:06:07

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de domenico

I think it may be a subject of some interest to the best knowledgeable members of this Forum if I translate from the  Italian a contribution just published by our common friend Marco Ghiglino on the latest issue (No. 32, 2018) of the Bollettino AIDMEN.

"The GABBIANO Class corvettes are certainly not an unknown subject for those who are at least a little acquainted with the history of the Regia Marina and, later, the Marina Militare.
Out of 60 ordered (subdivided into two batches of 40 and 20 vessels respectively), just 29 of them were delivered to the Regia Marina before September 8, 1943. Among them, 3 were lost due to war causes before the Armistice, while 4 fell into German hands, 1 was sunk by the Germans and 2 were scuttled to prevent capture. The 19 survivors continued to serve under the new flag of the Marina Militare for many years after the end of the war.
Among the corvettes which were not commissioned into the Regia Marina, almost all were captured by the German forces during the days following the Armistice. Some of them  were scuttled or destroyed over the next few weeks (those captured while fitting out or building at Castellammare di Stabia), while the building of others was resumed, and many were commissioned under the German flag.
Not entering into further statistics, I would like to draw attention to the history of just some vessels of this class, which in my considered opinion have obtained too little notice in the official histories or, when they did, were the object of mistakes.
The most considerable nucleus of these "forgotten" units is certainly made up by the corvettes built by OTO at Leghorn. To this shipyard was contracted  the building of 6 corvettes of the first batch, from C 19 to C 25 (ANTILOPE, GAZZELLA, CAMOSCIO, CAPRIOLO, ALCE  and RENNA) and 3 of the second batch, C 55, 56 and 57 (DAINO, CERVO  and  STAMBECCO). The vessels were built in threes at the foreyard Morosini, and launched almost simultaneously to free the room for the three following units, and so on."


de domenico

"The ANTILOPE was the first to commission, in October 1942, but after just a few months, in March 1943 she was rammed by the torpedo-boat PEGASO and suffered extensive damage. She was therefore sent to Leghorn to undergo repairs and, once there, she was put onto the Caprera slipyard. On 28 May 1943, during one fo the heaviest air raids which Leghorn underwent in war-time, the ANTILOPE was damaged by a bomb near-miss  that caused her to rotate slightly on the slip. The  slipyard itself was severely damaged, both in the above-water and in the below-water sections. During the same air raid the corvette STAMBECCO, still under construction at the Morosini foreyard, was severely damaged. She was therefore ordered to be scrapped.
The GAZZELLA, after many sorties, was sunk on 5 August 1943 hitting a mine off Asinara Island. The corvette CAMOSCIO, commissioned in April 1943, was only able to effect two sorties befopre being seriously damaged in an air attack while anchored on 24 July 1943 in the Sant'Agata roads, near Naples. She was then sent to Leghorn for repairs.
So far the history is rather well known, but let's go into the Armistice developments now.
At September 8, 1943, we find all the surviving eight corvettes built by OTO at Leghorn. The OTO shipyard, devastated by the air raid of 28 May 1943 mentioned above, was slowly starting to work again, but the situation was little altered: the ANTILOPE was still in a damaged state on the Caprera slipyard, her repair work had not yet been resumed because the slipyard itself was under repair, and it was hoped to relaunch the ship during the following December, provided the necessary material arrived on time. CAMOSCIO and CAPRIOLO were in drydock together, the former to repair damage and the latter to fit the screws. The RENNA had been moved to the industrial harbour and on ALCE work had been stopped to give priority to CAMOSCIO. Out of the three at the Morosini foreyard, on STAMBECCO still with damage and listing to one side the start of demolition work was expected, while on DAINO and CERVO work had been suspended.
It appears that no vessel was sabotaged, and all were captured by the Germans, which, considering Leghorn to be too exposed to Allied bombing,  rushed to make the greatest possible number of repairable vessels able for transfer.   
Given the non-feasibility of a relaunch, ANTILOPE was in part dismantled (perhaps to cannibalize pieces useful to complete the other vessels) and, at the time of the liberation of the town by the Allied forces, she was found still on the Caprera slipyard (she was later broken up). She did not therefore receive any German pennant number. CAMOSCIO, CAPRIOLO, RENNA  and ALCE were towed to Genoa between December 1943 and January, 1944 to be completed there.
The CAMOSCIO was commissioned by the Kriegsmarine on 28 June 1944 as a submarine chaser (U-Boot Jaeger) under the new name UJ 6082 and was based in Marseilles (6. Sicherungsflottille). After many coastal convoy escort sorties, she was sunk on 15 August 1944 by the US destroyer SOMERS while, together with her flotilla partner SG 21, she was on a patrol sortie off the French Southern coast about to be subjected to the Allied landing operation."


de domenico

"ALCE and CAPRIOLO were delivered to the Kriegsmarine at Genoa in July 1944 and  renamed UJ 6084 and UJ 6081 respectively under the 6. Sicherungsflottille. The former on 15 August 1944, while sortieing from Toulon harbour, hit a  mine and was grounded in the commercial harbour to prevent her sinking. At the end of the war she was found in the same location but broken into two halves, which were salved in 1946 and dismantled. The UJ 6081 ex CAPRIOLO  was sunk, together with UJ 6073 (the former yacht NIMET ALLAH), in the Gulf of La Ciotat on 17 August 1944 during a gunfight with the British gunboats APHIS and SCARAB, supported by gunfire from the US destroyer ENDICOTT.
RENNA instead was not in time to commission with the  6. Sicherungsflottille, where she should have been renamed UJ 6083, before the American landing in Provence. Almost complete, she was sunk in the drydock area of Genoa harbour during the very heavy bombing which the city underwent on 4 September, 1944. She was raised in part by Ansaldo-OARN in November, 1947 and dismantled. 
The last three corvettes on the OTO slipyard, CERVO, DAINO  and STAMBECCO, should have received the German names UJ 6086, 6087 and 6088. However, while STAMBECCO was found in part destroyed still on the Morosini foreyard at the liberation of Leghorn [in July 1944 translator's note], no trace at all was found of the other two. In the German KTBs they are not mentioned in the diaries concerning the towing of vessels out from Leghorn, nor they are to be found in the analyses of the wrecks in Genoa, La Spezia and Leghorn harbours (even if an  entry of the "Rivista Marittima" of many years ago mentioned CERVO as sunk in Genoa). One of the most likely possibilities is that they were launched by the Germans and scuttled in the shipyard area, where other vessels are also omitted in the Leghorn wreck situation which I found at the USMM [Ufficio Storico della Marina Militare].
Until recently it was believed that the US destroyer ENDICOTT had sunk ANTILOPE, but, as is shown by the photos here appended, by the documents relating to the Leghorn wrecks, and by the US war diaries, she actually sank UJ 6081 ex CAPRIOLO, while ANTILOPE was still on the Caprera  slipyard at Leghorn, where her launch was not possible. Probably this mistake is due to the German custom at the time of including in  the flotilla lists  the names or pennant numbers foreseen for ships still building or under repair. When the vessels were later nearing commissioning, the final name was assigned. This could be different from the earlier one since in the meantime, due to air raids or other causes, some vessels could have  undergone a slowdown in the their fitting out.
To further establish once and for all the German pennant numbers received (or foreseen) by the Leghorn corvettes, I attach an explanatory table [to be included on next Tuesday toghether with the photos translator's note]."

de domenico

"Two more corvettes whose final fate mentioned in many texts is wrong are TUFFETTO and MARANGONE, built at Ansaldo-Genova, the first vessels of the second batch. They were captured by the Germans at Genoa, the former while fitting out and the latter still on the slip, then renamed UJ 2222 and UJ 2223. Completed under the German flag and delivered in February-March, 1944, they were assigned to the 22. U-Boot Jaeger Flottille as coastal convoy escorts. In the night 23/24 May, 1944, while sailing near the Secche di Vada, they had an encounter with the US PTs 202, 213 and 218. In the confused night melée, UJ 2223 ex MARANGONE was torpedoed and sunk, while UJ 2222 got a torpedo hit at the extreme bow, but was able to reach Leghorn and then Genoa. Here her bow was removed, as it was only hanging by the deck plates, and she entered drydock for repairs. But on 4 September, 1944 during an air raid on Genoa she capsized and sank. It seems that she was once more raised but not repaired and scuttled on 24 April, 1945 at the  Molo Giano. Salved in September, 1947 and broken up.
To finish this short contribution, I would also like to mention the only two corvettes never laid down, that is MAGGIOLINO and COCCINIGLIA (C 60 and C 61, second batch). Under contract with the Navalmeccanica yard at Castellammare di Stabia, due to the heavy workload of that yard, engaged as it was not only in building corvettes, but above all in building (and repairing) Italian and German motozattere [MFPs], in the summer of 1943 it was decided to switch these two corvettes to the CRDA yard in Trieste. However the Armistice prevented their lay down at Trieste, and it seems that no yard number was even assigned to them.

Saibène, Marc "Toulon et la Marine, du sabordage à la Libération", Nantes, Marine Edition, 2002
Krellenberg, Manfred "U-Boot-Jagd im Mittelmeer. Der Einsatz der 22.U-Jagdflottille", Hamburg, Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 2003

USMM - Classifica Unità Regio Naviglio, various documents
USMM - Relitti porto di Livorno
Archivio IRI - Several documents about the cantieri OTO, Livorno
NARA - USS SOMERS War Diary, 7/1/44 to 10/25/44 Record Group 38 - Roll 1200
NARA - USS ENDICOTT War Diary, 8/1/31/1944, Record Group 38, Roll 1132
Several KTBs (with the help of Domenico Clarizia)


Danke für die Darstellung :MG: Eine Quelle möchte ich noch anfügen:
Zvonimir Freivogel: ,,Die Korvetten der Gabbiano-Klasse", 2008 Simonfreyverlag, ISBN 978-3-938494-05-5, mit zahlreichen Bildern und einer Planzeichnung (,8778.msg102301.html#msg102301)

de domenico

And here you will find a table  with the  Kriegsmarine actual UJ numbers resulting from Marco Ghiglino's painstaking research. Hope this will provoke some discussion.


Interesting read. Thanks for your efforts.

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