Historic WW2 submarine That Sunk Hours Before Armistice Announced


The World War Two Italian submarine Velella was sunk by Britain’s HMS Shakespeare hours before it was announced Italy had signed an armistice with the Allies, reports Mirror. New footage shows a sunken Italian WW2 submarine that was torpedoed hours before armistice was announced, reports Mirror.

About the incident

All 52 crew on board the Argo-class vessel Velella died in the ambush by Britain’s HMS Shakespeare on September 7, 1943.

Four days earlier Italy had signed an agreement at Cassibile in Sicily with the Allies to lay down arms but it was not made public until after the sinking.

And news was yet to filter down to the Italian crews that they were to surrender.

Instead they had moved to oppose the Anglo-American landings leading to the rare sub-on-sub engagement.

The armistice was announced to the world the following day on September 8.

Attack on the submarine

The 207ft Velella and another Italian sub the Benedetto Brin were going south before being both spotted by the Shakespeare which was submerged at around 8pm.

British captain Lieutenant in Command Michael Ainslie ordered an attack on the former as it was illuminated against the sky while the other quickly disappeared from view.

Six torpedoes were fired with a reported four striking the target.

Five hours later the news of the armistice was announced over the radio.

The wreck lies at a depth of 140 metres, and around 10 miles from Punta Licosa.

Latest footage

It was first located in 2003 but the latest footage has finally led to confirmation from the Italian navy’s mapping institute.

One of the divers, Andrea Bada, told Italian broadcaster TG2: “We carried out two dives for a period of almost five hours, with a presence on the seabed of more than 25 minutes.

“That enabled us to capture pictures that provided certain identification of the Velella submarine.”

Rizia Ortolani and Giovanni Filangieri, who have written about the 2003 search for the wreck, said the Velella crew’s deaths were a “totally useless sacrifice”.

They added that the Italian government failed to step in to stop the naval command from ordering the manoeuvre of the two vessels having known a secret agreement had already been signed days before.

The Velella was originally ordered by the Portuguese government before development was taken over by Italy and completed in 1936 alongside the Argo.

Together the two vessels made up the class Argo of coastal submarines.

Their purchase allowed the Italians to study their design and with slight alterations build the famous Tritone class from 1941.

Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?

It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe

Source: Mirror