That 'raid' of a submarine from Albione to the Argentario: July 15, 1943

(To David Bartoccini)

It happens that, when great passions are nurtured since childhood, we find ourselves in the place of the sea where we spent the most time of all, wondering what happened there during the last war. It is thus that loitering in the ether under the August sun, it turns out that in the summer of 1943, in Porto Santo Stefano (Monte Argentario) an English submarine apparently emerged from the crystalline water; that he had fired a couple of trips with the anti-aircraft gun on the bridge, and that he had vanished after sinking a tug - the Robust - instead of centering the land-movers Marinefährprahm used to 'ferry' supplies on the Gustav Line docked at the port. Thus it seems to have gone on a quiet July day of the '43; and then out of curiosity, passion and craft, on the same pier after a day spent on a boat, the 'historiographical' research starts ...

The 'submarine' as it was described, in truth a medium coastal submarine S class of the Royal Navy, which emerged off the coast of Cala Grande proceeding en route to the most important port of the Argentario, was the HMS Simoon (P225), at the command of the vessel lieutenant (Lt.) Geoffrey Deryck Nicholson Milner; awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and died in action. With 600 tons of displacement and 33 crew members the Simoon had crossed Gibraltar the 15 May of the 1943 and after having passed the mouths of Bonifacio, had reached Sicily with the order to participate in the coverage of the Operation Husky - the first landing of the allies in Europe.

Arriving in the waters of the Argentario in the second week of July, he immediately attacked the Italian-German convoy composed of the merchant ship Tigray and from the refueling ship Romagna, and escorted by the German minesweeper R6 and R16, off the island of Giglio. He unsuccessfully launched a torpedo saver from the 42 ° 29'N, 10 ° 46'E coordinates. Devoid of any loot, two days later (15 July), a partial military inactivity in the area was noted, emerged off the coast of Cala Grande proceeding to the nearby port and opening fire on the surface from 42 ° 31'N, 11 ° 04'E with the anti-aircraft piece mounted forward. A torpedo launched towards the mouth of the port was instead stopped by the anti-submarine network.

The action, observed by the civilian population as totally unexpected, started at 15.45 and was interrupted according to the log of the arrival of 'a pair of enemy planes'.

Il Robust, tugboat from 500 tons coming from Portoferraio was hit aft sinking in the port. The English submarine, which plunged with great haste, continued to roam the waters of the Mediterranean between Genoa and Corsica, also attacking the cruiser among others Giuseppe Garibaldi and the destroyer Gioberti off the coast of Levanto. Of the six torpedoes launched, two went to sign sinking the Gioberti.

The HMS Simoon, declared lost in action on the 23 November of the same year, had to continue its mission in the Mediterranean by patrolling the seas between Naxos and Mykonos, in Greece, but hit a mine that caused it to sink and the death of the whole crew off Bozcaada, Turkey.

Here's how to spend a day at sea, when you are passionate about history and are curious about birth.

(photo: Imperial War Museum)