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Betasom - Mussolini’s war series review.


This book is the fourth written by Marek Sobski in his Mussolini’s War series. Before I review the book I would point out that Mr Sobski in a separate thread does explain difficulties that he faces when writing and then trying to publish the books. I therefore take into account these issues.
As my main interest is in the Regia Marina, I have waited patiently for well over a year for this book. The Regia Marina’s participation in the Battle of Atlantic only gets a mention in English language books although there are more books written in Italian.
This book did not disappoint me. It is well written and follows a chronological sequence of events which include the formation of Betasom, a detailed description of each submarine‘s patrol and then the ending of operations. Also included is a detailed section on the various blockade runners used by the Regia Marina.
Whilst I was aware of the shortcomings of the Italian submarines in the Atlantic which involved huge conning towers and lengthy times to submerge, Mr Sobski also details the failing of the Regia Marina’s submarine doctrine which stemmed from World War One and failings of the submarine equipment and crew training. It left me surprised that the Italian submarines were able to sink over one hundred vessels bearing in mind the conditions aboard the submarines and poor equipment .
Little known incidents of potential submarine internment and rescue at sea are well covered. Life at sea in an Italian submarine is covered.
The book has plenty of photograph, maps and diagrams of submarines and this is where I have a soft criticism of the book. A book this detailed calls to be a hard back reference book with glossy pages! The photographs are taken mainly from war time Italian magazines and are not well annotated. For example, a photo of a submarine captain has no name. One photo is duplicated. Other photographs are taken from Wikipedia. I fully understand that there is a cost implication to go down the path I have suggested but the book deserves good informative photographs.
A nice and unusual part of the book is the explanation of the name of each submarine.
To sum, this book has covered an area of Regia Marina’s operations not fully explained in English language books and is recommended. Mr Sobski at the outset of introducing his forthcoming series of books has stated that his intention is promote Italian involvement in World War Two which is normally included in English language books. I believe he has succeeded his intention with this book.
Regards to all.


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