80 Years Ago: the Attack on Souda Bay

March 26, 2021 (Google Translation) – ” Everything was entrusted to us. A man with his boat hurled at insane speed against a large ship: a human torpedo .” The director Antonio Leonviola could not have described it better, when in making his film, ” Torpedo Umani ” in fact, he decided to tell the genesis of the insidious actions carried out during the Second World War.

Today, 80 years later, one of the greatest feats accomplished by the men of the X MAS Flotilla occurs : the attack on Souda Bay. The first of a series of successes, the one on the inaccessible island of Crete was the culmination of months of preparation and training, leading 6 between officers and non-commissioned officers of the Royal Navy to sink a heavy cruiser, the York, and an oil tanker, the Pericles. All this was possible thanks to a deadly weapon, destined to enter the enemy’s ports to strike the quiet safety of its fleet: the Modified Tourist Motorboat.

Although fictionalized, Leonviola’s cinematic reconstruction clearly gives an idea of ​​how lethal the so-called explosive boats were: “The motorboat contained 300 kilos of TNT, even enough for a battleship. On impact against the target a secondary charge tore open the bow, while a main charge sank the enemy hull and burst deeply to produce the maximum destructive effect. And we, were we doomed to death like a Japanese Kamikaze? No. 50 meters before the collision, by blocking the controls, we could have unhooked the seat back and throw ourselves into the water “. And that is exactly what happened to Souda Bay.

At dawn on March 26, 1941, Lieutenant Luigi Faggioni , Lieutenant Angelo Cabrini , Chief Gunner Alessio De Vito , Chief Engineer Tullio Tedeschi , 2nd Chief Mechanic Lino Beccati and Gunner Sergeant Emilio Barberi, under the command of as many MTMs, they got as close as possible to the targets, stabilized the rudder, then launched their hulls at maximum speed against the enemy targets. All six protagonists of the heroic enterprise were saved, but were taken prisoner by the British. Upon returning to his homeland, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valor. To honor the memory of that action, Angelo Cabrini and Tullio Tedeschi, the two material authors of the sinking of the opposing major unit, have recently been named the two fast UNPAV-type vessels destined for the Incursori Operational Group .

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