Italian submarines in World War Two

Nani (NI, I.21)

TypeOcean going 
ClassMarcello (12) 
Laid down 15 Jan 1937 Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico, Monfalcone
Launched16 Jan 1938
Commissioned5 Sep 1938
End service
Loss date7 Jan 1941
Loss position60° 15'N, 15° 27'W
Fate It was suggested that she was sunk on 7th January 1941 in the North Atlantic, south of Iceland in position 60°15'N, 15°27'W by depth charges from British corvette HMS Anemone. This is doubtful as she was expected to be operating much farther south.


CommanderDate fromDate toCommand notes
C.C. Gioacchino Polizzi21 Apr 1940Jan 1941

Ships hit

DateCommanderShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.5 Oct 1940C.C. Gioacchino PolizziHMS Kingston SapphireArmed trawler356BritishSunk
2.27 Oct 1940C.C. Gioacchino PolizziMeggieCargo ship1,583SwedishSunk

Patrols and events

 CommanderDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
Polizzi, Gioacchino5 Jun 19400810Naples5 Jun 19401650Naples35Exercises.

1Polizzi, Gioacchino6 Jun 19401720Naples15 Jun 19402245Naples1233,9Patrolled off Algerian coast on a line with Barbarigo, 30 miles north of Cape Bengut [36°55'27'N, 03°54'00'E]. Was probably the submarine reported by French aircraft on 10th June in 38°00'N, 03°35'E.

2Polizzi, Gioacchino21 Jun 19401930Naples28 Jun 19400740Naples1249,5Patrolled within 15 miles eastward of Port Mahon (Minorca), in 39°48'N, 04°28'E.

Polizzi, Gioacchino8 Jul 19400930Naples8 Jul 19401630NaplesExercises.

3Polizzi, Gioacchino11 Jul 19402355Naples26 Jul 19402353Naples2138,8Patrolled off Gibraltar with Morosini, between Cape Sacratif and Cape Guillates.
  22 Jul 19400305
(0) 140° - Europa Point - 12 miles.
At 0300 hours, as Nani was on the way home, a shadow was sighted ahead. It turned out to be a larger destroyer or sloop. Five minutes later, two torpedoes (533mm, W-G type) were fired from the bow tubes at a range of 1,200 metres, They both had an erratic course and missed.

Polizzi, Gioacchino1 Sep 19401000Naples1 Sep 19401620Naples71Exercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino5 Sep 19400910Naples5 Sep 19401705Naples70Exercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino8 Sep 19400715Naples8 Sep 19401130NaplesExercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino8 Sep 19401410Naples8 Sep 19401559Naples109,5Exercises [mileage is for both sorties of the day].

Polizzi, Gioacchino10 Sep 19400902Naples10 Sep 19401610Naples89Exercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino14 Sep 19400920Naples14 Sep 19401607Naples94Exercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino16 Sep 19400935Naples16 Sep 19401700Naples77,5Exercises.

Polizzi, Gioacchino23 Sep 19400800Naples23 Sep 19401200Naples41Exercises.

4Polizzi, Gioacchino29 Sep 19400900Naples4 Nov 19401000Bordeaux4439,7Atlantic patrol, between 33°40'N and 35°20'N and 24°25'W and 32°00'W and passage to Bordeaux. Passed Gibraltar on 4th October 1940.
  4 Oct 1940004636° 02'N, 4° 34'WAt 0036 hours, Nani sighted a shadow straight ahead at 2,500 metres. The submarine closed and realised it was a steamer navigating without lights, steering 130°. At 0045 hours, a destroyer was observed bearing 045° at 1,500 metres. A minute later, a torpedo (533 mm, W type) was fired from a bow tube at the steamer from a distance of 1,700 metres. It missed.
  4 Oct 19400440
(0) 312° - Point Europe - 7.5 miles.
At 0440 hours, a destroyer was suddenly sighted at 400 metres, Nani dived immediately. C.C. Polizzi decided to resume his passage at a depth of 70 metres at 3 knots. At 1520 hours, the sounding gear broke down and the submarine now proceeded at a depth of 90 metres. At 1950 hours, Nani suddenly took a downward angle and stabilised only at 140 metres. The submarine finally surfaced at 2035 hours.
  5 Oct 19400417
0326 (e)
36° 02'N, 7° 10'W
(e) 36° 11'N, 6° 31'W
At 0413 hours, in very poor visibility, a dark shadow was sighted at 1,000 metres. Nani closed to 400 metres but realised that she was in an awkward position for a bow attack. She turned to port and at 0416 hours, the vessel opened fire on the submarine, letting off two rounds within 30 seconds, one at 400 metres and the other at 600 metres but without scoring a hit.

Within a minute, Nani fired a torpedo (450mm, W 200) from a stern tube at 600 metres and, 36 seconds later, it hit the target which began to sink. The submarine moved to the limit of visibility, returning to observe lifeboats picking up survivors before moving away. C.C. Polizzi believed he had sunk a 7,000-ton tanker. The victim was in fact the armed trawler HMT Kingston Sapphire (356 tons). Of the crew of forty, three were killed, four officers and twenty-five ratings were picked up by the Spanish fishing vessel Nettuno and landed at Huelva. They were released on 30th October.
  22 Oct 19401538
(0) NW of Madeira.
At 1538 hours, the Greek steamer Souliotis (4,300 GRT, built 1917) was stopped by Nani and examined. She was on her way to New York, with a cargo of tobacco, wine and fish and was released. This was lucky for the Greek ship as six days later Italy declared war on Greece.
  27 Oct 19401412-155037° 20'N, 24° 15'WAt 1335 hours, Nani sighted a ship on the horizon. It proved to be the Swedish Swedish Meggie (1,583 GRT, built 1889, Captain F.B. Johansson) detached from convoy OB.228. She was carrying 4,000 tons of coal from Dunston to Madeira. At 1412 hours, she was ordered to stop and her papers examined. The crew of twenty-one was ordered to abandon ship and boarded the two lifeboats available. After sinking the ship with 8 rounds, Polizzi who had a good heart, decided to tow them for 12 hours toward the Island of San Miguel. A storm separated the two boats. On 4 November, one lifeboat was rescued by a fishing boat. After 13 days at sea, the other reached the Portuguese coast by using a compass made of two matches and a ring (our thanks to Andreas Lindh and Michael Lowrey for this story).

5Polizzi, Gioacchino13 Dec 1940Bordeaux17 Dec 19401630PauillacSailed for patrol but turned back when an officer and a rating were hurt because of the bad weather. They were landed at Pauillac, with two more officers who also needed medical attendance. The four men were replaced before the submarine sailed again. Escorted in by the German minesweeper M 2.

5bPolizzi, Gioacchino17 Dec 1940Pauillac18 Dec 1940PauillacWhile at Pauillac, Nani shot down an enemy aircraft. There was an Egyptian report on 8th January 1941, that Italian submarines had been damaged in Brest by RAF attacks, but this was not confirmed. Italian submarines never used Brest and the report may have erroneously referred to this attack.
  18 Dec 19400400
(0) At Pauillac.
At 0400 hours, Nani was anchored at Pauillac, awaiting orders to proceed for an Atlantic patrol (which was to be her last), when Bordeaux came under air attack by six Beauforts of 217 Squadron. The submarine observed an aircraft flying low northward, apparently returning from the raid. Fire was opened with her four machine guns and the aircraft appeared to be hit and believed shot down. Later, the Germans claimed to have found the wreckage of an enemy aircraft in the Gironde estuary. Yet, the only aircraft which failed to return from the mission was Beaufort 'G' (L4463) piloted by Sergeant D.A.G. Matthews and it actually crashed near Vannes. There is insufficient evidence to confirm that the aircraft was shot down by Nani.

5cPolizzi, Gioacchino20 Dec 19401800, 1655 (GE)Le Verdon7 Jan 1941Date?Sunk with all handsSailed escorted out by the German minesweepers M-2 and M-13 and Sperrbrecher III, through 49°00'N, 19°00'W, maintaining a speed of 11 knots until 12°00'W and then northward for Atlantic patrol between 54°00'N and 55°00'N and 17°00'W and 20°00'W. Her departure was delayed due to an intensive A/S search (undoubtedly caused by the sinking of Tarantini). On 29th December 1940, she was advised that her northern limit was the parallel of Point Z (56°00'N). Her last communication was on 3rd January. She did not answer a request to state her position on 7th January. She was reported in German Grid AL 67 (ca. 54°09'N, 19°45'W) as of 1st January 1941 and AL 02 (ca. 56°51'N, 20°12'W) on 16th January 1941. She should have returned on 20th January 1941. Claimed sunk by corvette HMS Anemone (she had left convoy OB.269 and was joining convoy HX.99) but her position was some 300 miles to the North of Nani's area. She was lost with all hands, seven officers and forty-nine ratings perished.
  2 Jan 1941
1207 (e)

(e) 54° 16'N, 14° 15'W
The U-boat (Bagnolini) reported earlier by an aircraft was hunted through the night by HMS Scimitar, HMS Skate, HMS Bluebell, HMS Westcott and HMS Candytuft and a Whitley aircraft. Skate got a contact and attacked at 1207 hours, but then lost it. Bagnolini did not report depth charges dropped at that time. Could this have been Nani? We will never be sure.
  5 Jan 1941
1525 (e)

(e) 55° 29'N, 8° 33'W
At 1525 hours, Sunderland 'A' (L5798) of 210 Squadron piloted by Flight Lieutenant R.E.G. Van der Kiste sighted what appeared to be the wash of a periscope at a distance of 1/2 mile. Within 45 seconds, an attack was made from a height of only 20 feet with two 450 lb depth-charges set to explode at a depth of 100 feet. No result was observed. The bottom of the hull of the Sunderland was damaged by suspected splinters from the explosions and on alighting at Bowmore, the aircraft rapidly filled with water. Only after heavy pumping and baling was a diver able to apply a leak stopper from the outside.

Could this have been Nani? She was operating much farther west but one cannot rule out that she could have been withdrawing after developing mechanical defects or other type of damage (see also incident with Glauco).
  7 Jan 1941
1045-1522 (e)

(e) 60° 12'N, 15° 27'W
At 1115 hours, the corvette HMS Anemone was proceeding steering 290°, to join convoy HX.99, when a U-boat was sighted at 3,200 yards. She opened fire at 3,200 yds and claimed a direct hit with the sixth round. The submarine submerged and was depth-charged, the last attack occurring at 1522 hours. She was claimed to have been sunk. The corvette HMS La Malouine took over the search at 1820 hours, but did not find anything. Some sources have attributed the sinking of Nani to this attack, but this is doubtful as she was operating much farther south. However, Captain D (Londonderry) believed that the position recorded by HMS Anemone was grossly in error and was actually 59°20'N, 13°20'W. Still this position was much farther north of Nani's assigned area.

23 entries. 17 total patrol entries (5 marked as war patrols) and 10 events.

All Italian submarines