The war preys of the Royal Navy: Beograd/Sebenico

(To Francesco Sisto)

The destroyer Beograd she was the main ship of the homonymous class of the Royal Yugoslav Navy. The ship was laid out and designed in 1936 in Nantes at the Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire, and was launched in December 1937; she entered active service in the spring of 1939.

The ship's primary armament consisted of 4 120 mm guns, while the secondary armament consisted of 4 anti-aircraft guns. Furthermore, she consisted of 550 mm torpedo launchers and two machine guns and was also capable of carrying 30 naval mines.

Following the invasion of Yugoslavia (6-18 April 1941) by the Axis powers, the destroyer was captured by Italy. It is worth pointing out that the Beograd – before being abandoned – it was extensively damaged by its own crew. In fact, the ship entered service with the Royal Navy only in the summer of 1941 after having been "fixed up" and modified. The destroyer was renamed Sibenik.

It is important to underline that the decision to invade Yugoslavia took place - essentially - on 27 March 1941, when General Simovic and his companions overthrew the government which had just signed a pact with the Axis leaders. About this, “Hitler was so irritated by that sensational news that he decided, that same day, to launch a massive offensive against Yugoslavia”1.

As mentioned previously, after the capture, the ship underwent work in the Taranto arsenal to take service in the Royal Navy. The destroyer was "weighed down" with approximately 32 tons of ballast in the keel, she changed the anti-aircraft and torpedo armaments. Furthermore, she was armed "of a national shooting center, echo direction finder and equipment for dredging in progress"2.

Il Sibenik with the Royal Navy, from August 1941 to September 1943, he took part in over one hundred convoy escort missions - mainly - on the routes between the Lower Adriatic, the Aegean Sea and North Africa.

With the capitulation of Italy on 8 September 1943, the Kriegsmarine (a few days later) requisitioned the destroyer Sibenik in the port of Venice. The vessel was named TA43 (Torpedoboot Ausland 43). The anti-aircraft armament, with the Germans, was increased; the TA43 was used as an escort and minelayer.

The ship was sunk in the port of Trieste a few days before the capitulation of the Third Reich (8 May 1945).

The destroyer had a full load displacement of 1655 tons. Her dimensions were 98 x 9,45 x 3,18 m.

Engine: 2 Curtis steam turbines powered by 3 Yarrow water tube boilers, power 40000 HP. The speed was 35 knots (65 km/h).

The ship could count on a crew of 145 men (including officers).

1 BH Liddell Hart, Military History of the Second World War. The armies, the fronts and the battles. Mondadori, Milan, 2021, p. 177

2 A. Fraccaroli, The Sebenico fighter, in Illustrated History n°211, 1975, p.116

Photo: US Navy / web