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Regia Marina Morale Spring/Summer 1943

The Red

New Member
Hi there, I'm new to the forum doing research for a counterfactual project on the potential outcome of an order for the battle fleet at La Spezia to sortie against Operation Husky and the possibility of opposition to it from the Italian sailors, similar to the mutiny at Kiel. I was wondering if anyone could provide any insight into the state of morale amongst the sailors of the battle fleet at La Spezia in the Summer of 1943.

I've seen reference to a report made either by Commando Supremo or Supermarina in May 1943 that concluded the fleet would be incapable of defending Sicily but can't seem to find it or the reasons stated. Lack of fuel is often cited but it seems there were at least some reserves open to potential action even if sparingly. Lack of air cover is a clearer factor but it doesn't seem to negate a willingness from Commando Supremo to pursue the option even if Supermarina had a different opinion. I know there are reports from the same timescale regarding issues with morale in the Italian army and was wondering if this affected the naval branch as well. Any help would be appreciated.


Active Member
Morale was never an issue in the Italian Navy. The only short-lived mutiny happened on the battleship Cesare on 9 Sept. 1943, because the crew feared that they would have to hand the ship to the British, not knowning that the Armistice granted the Italian control over its fleet. In other words, the only mutiny was by men unwilling to surrender their ship, not willing to surrender, i.e. the opposite of Kiel in 1918. The movie Fantasmi del mare is loosely inspired by this event.

The attack on the Anglo-American fleet in the waters of Sicily on 10 July 1943 was avoided due to the overwhelming air superiority of the Allies and the presence of a stronger enemy battleships force, also given the fact that battleship Roma had been damaged in June 1943 by a bombing and that the two battleship forces (Spezia and Taranto) probably could not operate together before being intercepted by Allied forces. Instead, on 9 September 1943 the battleship force (Forze Navali da Battaglia) of Spezia was ready to counter the landing on Salerno, because it would have been the last decisive action and there would have been no further oportunities.


Staff member
I agree with DrG. Everything I have read (note that the RM is not my main research focus) is that the fleet would follow orders. The admirals recognized that any attempt to attack the Allied landings would likely be a failure, but they were prepared to do it. I have not read anything that indicated that the sailors were not willing to sortie.

Pista! Jeff
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I agree with the comments above. If you can get access to a copy of Bragadin’s ‘The Italian Navy in World War 2’ you will see that he covers the lead up to the armistice in one of the chapters. He gives the chapter a subtitle of ‘Ready for the extreme sacrifice.’


New Member
Sadkovich in “The Italian Navy in WW 2 “ discusses this in chapter nine . He states that the crews were still combative but lack of fuel made the RM impotent. The Allies were also regularly bombing Italian ports during this period which meant the fleet had to be moved further north to protect it . The RM did well evacuating North Africa and Sicily in 1943 and this is where the remaining fuel stocks were used .Sadkovitch comments that any combat operations against the Allied fleet would have resulted in annihilation of the fleet and a lot of unnecessary deaths without any practical purpose.
He quotes an alternative view written post-war by Angelo Iachino-Tramonto di una grande marina stating that morale was altissimo but the RM continued to do what it could until the end.