22 May 1941: the long night of the torpedo boat Lupo

(To Marina Militare)

Seventy-eight years ago, in the Aegean Sea, the Royal Torpedo Boat Wolf, with the commander of the frigate Francesco Mimbelli in command, became the protagonist of a memorable night action during the battle of Crete. With admirable audacity and exceptional readiness, he faced an English education, composed of the cruisers Ajax, Orion, Dido and by destroyers Hereward, Hasty, Janus e Kimberley, managing to keep up with the enemy and protecting the convoy.

At the 22.33 of 21 May, near Capo Spada, the Wolf, suddenly sighted at a distance of about 1.000 meters an English destroyer, began to spread a smokescreen to protect the small escorted units. Soon after, a British cruiser was opened at a distance of 700 meters, which opened fire on the Italian torpedo boat. The Wolf he answered with all his weapons and threw a torpedo. During the exchange of cannonballs, a second cruiser suddenly appeared at a short distance, on which the torpedo boat concentrated the fire of its artillery by launching a second torpedo, while they appeared gradually in the mist, caused by the smokescreen, other shapes of enemy ships.

In the middle of the fray, believing that one of the torpedoes had gone to the target and while the enemy units in the apparent confusion created by the poor visibility, instead of concentrating the fire on the Italian unity, exchanged cannonades between them, the Wolf he cleverly escaped the unequal struggle.

During the fight, the Wolf, repeatedly struck by the opposing reaction, had two fallen and numerous serious injuries among the crew. The British formation has moved away, the Wolf returned to the action scene to recover the castaways.

For this extraordinary action, the war flag of Wolf it was decorated with the Silver Medal for Military Valor and the Commander Mimbelli was awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valor.

The mission report of the Royal Torpedo Boat Wolf, written by the commander Mimbelli in a dry and elegant style, is kept by the Historical Office of the Navy in Rome, for current and future generations.