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Enzo Grossi - an italian war hero

Discussion in 'Submarines and ASW Technology' started by Triton, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Enzo Grossi, most of you will know him or at least heard of him:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzo_Grossi

    What was new to me: (italian) historical research found out, that he was more than just a story teller.
    Anyone knows more about it?
    How could he honestly confuse a corvette and a battleship?
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Overclaims were actually a rather usual thing and Grossi knew how to exagerate his . I don't know whether he truly believed his claims or not.
    What is quite unacceptable is that no serious verifications were made and that he was promoted without any further check. I suppose that the Regia needed heroes .

    Another interesting aspect is his international background : Born in Brazil , fought for Italy and died in Argentina.
     
  3. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I have a copy of the 1943 (or year XXI as the fascists counted years from the establishment of the regime) Almanacco Navale (Italy's equivalent of Jane's or Flottes de Combat) and it's rather ambiguous about it, in the USN part the only "named" losses are USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma while the "unnamed" listing contains, in addition to a Maryland and a Mississippi class attributed to Barbarigo , 4 unnamed battleships reported sunk by the Japanese.
     
  4. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Thanks.

    He couldn't distinguish a Flower-Class Corvette from a Battleship during a surface attack, that is unusual.
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Weather conditions, distance and time spent spotting the ships trhrough the priscope may explain this. Lack of experience too. Then again was it really a mistake or did he turn the corvette into a battleship to boost his record?
     
  6. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Triton likes this.
  7. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    The guy is not a complete joke, he sunk 4 merchant ships which is not bad for a captain of an italian submarine in the Atlantic. Their boats weren't made for such rough conditions.

    But watching a sinking battleship from a distance of 800 meters from a submarine on surface? With destroyers everywhere?
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I thought his total was only 2, the neutral Spanish freighter "Navemar", and the British "Charlbury", according to
    Axis Submarine Successes of World War Two: German, Italian, and Japanese Submarine Successes, 1939-1945, by Jürgen Rohwer

    Where are you finding that he sank 4?
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    There was also the Brazilian ship Comandante Lyra that was eventually towed to Recife but was scrapped as not economically repairable. But that would only make 3. Not making sure the cripple had sunk is consistent with the rest of Grossi's performance.

    But the first trial does look strange, and there is ground to believe it was motivated by politics, trials for overclaims were almost unheard of so why Grossi ? The judges also proved to be as little competent as the accused.
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The why is fairly easy to answer...Grossi chose poorly in 1943. When Italy surrendered, Grossi sided with the Repubblica Sociale Italiana - Mussolini's newly formed Italian state for those still loyal to the Italian Fascists and Nazi Germans.

    Grossi's reduction in rank, to infantry private had nothing to do with the outcome of any trials, but was the result of Article I of DECRETO LEGISLATIVO LUOGOTENENZIALE 26 aprile 1945, n. 294
    English translation: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/gazzetta/serie_generale/caricaDettaglio%3FdataPubblicazioneGazzetta%3D1945-06-19%26numeroGazzetta%3D73&prev=search
     
  11. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Very interesting document, thanks.

    Looking at the Italian text the decree is a legal framework, and to be applied it would require in Grossi's case, as a naval officer below flag rank, a nominative act by the minister of the navy, and would probably demote him to "marinaio semplice" (sailor) not army private. AFAIK it was not applied uniformly, plenty of ex RSI in the post war Italian armed forces especially in the air force.

    BTW I would expect such an act to be signed by the king, as head of the armed forces, not by his son the viceroy, possibly it was done that way so as to make less evident the hot potato was handed over to the ministers.

    Grossi was a pretty visible figure, but discrediting his boss the "black prince" Valerio Borghese that was a much harder target, may have been the real objective of the trial.

    The issue is clouded by the trial being conducted by a pair admirals suspected of collaboration with the allies before the armistice, the Italians were aware British intelligence was much too accurate to be due just to air reconaisance and suspected a high level traitor, that issue was never solved until the revelation of ULTRA finally showed where the British were getting the information from.

    The date of the decree's pubblication is interesting, the day after the German surrender in Italy, but what is the significance of 13 october 1943 ? that date doesn't ring a bell, the armistice was September 9, possibly it took the commands a month to issue unanbiguous orders about collaboration with the Germans which wouldn't surprise me that much.
     
  12. Pytor

    Pytor New Member

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    Grossi was a bluff, he tried to be an hero without sunk any battleship. The real italian submarine hero was Gianfranco-Gazzana-Priaroggia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gianfranco_Gazzana-Priaroggia

    He was the highest scoring Italian submarine commander, with 11 ships sunk for a total of 90,601 tons.
    Regards
     
  13. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    Today, it is easy to ridicule about the efforts of the Regia Marina. Often overseen: They have to cope with the lack of fuel, lack of radar, lack of air cover and a Mussolini who was afraid of loosing ships.

    Especially the small units usually fought very bravely and developped clever tactics (no one was afraid of loosing a maiale), even Dönitz respected them and was very pleased with their attitude, although he knew that their submarines weren't built for the rough conditions of the Atlantic Ocean and their tactics weren't suited for convoy warfare.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Getting out into the Atlantic wasn't exactly trivial either. How many German U-boats that entered the Med made it back out?
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The question should be...How many U-Boats were ordered to return from the Med and were sunk on the return trip?

    How many U-Boats made it back out is meaningless if none were ordered to do so.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's a good point. I seam to remember reading of a number of failed attempts to do so but I'm not sure how common it was. The med did pretty much become an allied lake at one point so withdrawing any U-boats that were there would have made sense if there were any still there. I have no idea how many tried though one reason I asked the question.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    I'm fairly sure I remember, probably from Blair, that none of the 62? U-boats sent to the Med returned to the Atlantic.

    As Takao notes, they may never have tried or been ordered to. Once Italy was out of the war, U-boats were one of the few options the Germans had for disrupting Allied operations in the Med. Even a few subs can force the enemy to organize convoys, tie down escorts, etc.

    About 31 Italian submarines passed through the Straits of Gibraltar earlier in the war to operate from French bases, although Allied defenses were no doubt less formidable then.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Once Italy was out of the war how many ports did the Germans have that could resupply the U-boats? I don't remember reading much about U-boat pens in the Med (there may have been quite a few, complete lack of knowledge on my part in this regard). I do seem to recall reading about some attempts to exit the Med as well that were not successful. I think the current had some significant impact.
     
  19. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    They held northern Italy (Genoa, Livorno) until almost the end of the war. It would be interesting to know if they used French ports or, if so, whether they were able to evacuate before the Dragoon forces liberated them.

    Good point about the current, but Italians were able to exit the Med. Perhaps at that time they were able to slip past Gibraltar on the surface, maybe using Spanish Moroccan waters.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I think the current slowed the transit giving more time for the local ASW forces to find the sub. I know they held ports in the Med until very near the end but were those ports suitable for resupplying subs? I would think such an effort would attract a lot of attention from allied air forces.
     

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