Since the establishment of NATO all the marinas that are part of it use to exchange official with the aim of achieving the greatest possible integration, something of fundamental importance for being able to operate in formations and fleets composed of ships of all the allied nations. So, how could it happen that one of our officers had to board an American aircraft carrier or an English frigate, so it could happen that one of our ships had to host officers of the same marines.
One of these occasions occurred at the beginning of this century on board of our fighter ...
A bold frigate captain of the Royal Navy was destined for a few weeks on one of our ships to take part in inter-allied exercises. He knew only a few words of Italian, since in the Anglo-Saxon prosopopoia he assumed that everyone understood his language. Fortunately for us, our seafarers are not only accustomed to putting any guest at ease but also chews English very well and so they spoke only in his own language.
The host, however cordial he wanted to prove, could not completely hide his superiority complex against the Italians.
So, on the evening of November 11 of that year he showed up in official squad for dinner in perfect uniform with a short skirt. It was on that occasion that everyone knew of his Scottish origins. But no one could understand why that great ceremony was held.
While everyone sipped the aperitif ritual by throwing curious glances at the Scotch, the Commander of our ship finally asked him the reason for the estate.
"Tonight the Royal Navy celebrates one of the most glorious victories of the Second World War" ... followed by moments of silence while everyone waited to know what great victory he was talking about because his navy had come out of the victorious war just because of the Americans and had lost a lot of ships in countless showers alternating with some sporadic victory in the Mediterranean: the operation Judgment ... the mythical night of Taranto !!! ".
Our eyes rolled in surprise. Nobody expected a host to pretend so shamelessly to celebrate their victims' homes. No one saw what was to be celebrated for the death of dozens of sailors surprised in their sleep.
But as hospitality is sacred, no one had the courage to stop the Scot who celebrated the event during dinner:
An aircraft carrier escorted by an entire fleet of ships and submarines, dozens of planes, a large number of pilots and a few thousand crewmen. A huge deployment of forces and resources very well employed (thanks to the secret services) and also very lucky (favorable condimeteo and flaws in the Italian defensive system) that night had surprised the Italian fleet at anchor managing to seriously damage a battleship and other two less seriously. A sort of easy Pearl Harbor. Bravi!
The evening ended with a toast launched by our Commander in memory of the 58 Italian sailors who died in the attack.
The thing was not very well digested by ours and the Commander had a surprise for his guest.
After a few weeks the Scot, entering the square for the usual dinner, found himself among fifteen Italian officers in perfect uniform: scarf, saber, metallic decorations and a glass of champagne in his hand. When the guest appeared, everyone welcomed him with a big smile and a "hip hip hurrĆ " choir.
The British phlegmatic expression had vanished from the guest's face, which was baffled for a moment. Then, with a forced smile, he asked what we could celebrate so important to justify the high uniform for everyone ...
"This evening the Italian sailors celebrate one of the most glorious victories of the Second World War ..." - said the Commander repeating exactly the same words used with arrogance from the Scotsman to announce the celebration of the night of Taranto on the previous occasion.
"Operation GA3 ... The night of Alexandria !!!". It was the December 18.
The guest blanched in the face aware of the whammy not so much from him as from his celebrated Royal Navy. He quickly drank his aperitif while everyone around looked at him grinning and, during dinner, it was his turn to listen to the celebration of the event.
"A single submarine, three old torpedoes modified and ridden by only six brave men able to penetrate the most armed British naval base and blow up the two most powerful armor of the enemy fleet. An exceptional result achieved with insignificant resources and that no other marine in the world has ever been able to match; not the fruit of economic or military power but only of the great Italian imagination and of the ardor of our people. And you think that our six heroes have also made it possible to save the lives of all the English sailors of the battle ship he mined. An authentic legend recognized as such all over the world. "
And to increase the dose: "Let's imagine, dear commander, that in Italy there was not the use of celebrating this like many other similar actions because they are considered ordinary administration and simple fulfillment of their duty in accordance with our oath, just her, last month there He made us understand the absolute value of our people and the importance of reminding them to the world. "
It was so, I believe that the custom of celebrating the night of Alexandria departed from that ship whose name is "Luigi Durand de la Penne".
The final toast was the coup de grace for Anglo-Saxon pride: "So there are no English victims to honor, thanks to the Italian of which this ship bears the name, the toast is in honor of the courage and the innate cavalry of the Italian sailor of all time ... prosit!"
(loosely based on a story by Marcello Bernard)