Italian submarines in World War Two

Italian Commanders

Walter Auconi

Born  30 May 1912Rome
Died  4 Oct 2002(90)Rome


  T.V.Tenente di Vascello
  C.C.Capitano di Corvetta


8 Apr 1939 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
24 Mar 1942 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare
14 Jan 1948 Medaglia d'argento al valore militare
29 Jul 1949 Medaglia di bronzo al valore militare

Career information

From 10.12.1938, served as Second in Command (T.V.) to C.F. Aldo Cocchia in 1° GRUPSOM (La Spezia).
DANDOLO (T.V. C.O.): from 11.05.1941 to 25.02.1942.
LUIGI TORELLI (T.V. C.O.): from 22.09.1942 to 25.01.1943.
From 23.03.1942 to at least January 1943, served as BETASOM Capo Serv. T.
Promoted to C.C. ca. April 1943.
COMANDANTE ALFREDO CAPPELLINI (C.C. C.O.): May 1943? to 15.09.1943 (seized at Singapore).

Commands listed for Walter Auconi

Submarine Type Rank From To
Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)Ocean going
Dandolo ( DO, I.16)Ocean goingT.V.11 May 194125 Feb 1942
Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)Ocean goingT.V.22 Sep 194225 Jan 1943
Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)Ocean going15 Sep 1943
Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)Ocean goingC.C.1 May 194315 Sep 1943

Ships hit by Walter Auconi

DateSubmarineShip hitTypeGRTNat.Loss type
1.4 Nov 1941DandoloLe TarnTanker4,220Vichy FrenchDamaged
2.8 Nov 1941DandoloOropesaCargo ship6,600SpanishSunk

War patrols listed for Walter Auconi

 SubmarineDateTimePortArr. dateArr. timeArr. portMilesDescription
1.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)13 Jun 19410910Bordeaux13 Jun 19411616Le Verdon54Passage Bordeaux-Le Verdon.

2.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)14 Jun 19410700Le Verdon14 Jun 19412050La Pallice92Passage Le Verdon-La Pallice with Bagnolini, escorted by Sperrbrecher 16 and exercises.

3.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)19 Jun 19412000La Pallice23 Jun 19410710La Pallice813Passage La Pallice-Naples, but developed defects off Cape Villano, and turned back.

4.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)26 Jun 19412020La Pallice7 Jul 19410710Naples2186Passage La Pallice-Naples. Passed Gibraltar on 2nd July 1941. Long refit. On 6th July, British Naval Intelligence was aware that she had returned to the Mediterranean. On 1st July, U-138 was informed that Dandolo would pass her, eastbound, in the next few days. [U-138 had however already been sunk at that date.]
  29 Jun 19410820-1215
(0) Off Lisbon.
At 0820 hours, the submarine sighted a steamer on a southerly course and took an intercepting course. At 1005 hours, the submarine had initially closed to use her bow tubes, but then elected to turn for a stern shot, when she recognised a vessel with Red Cross markings and broke off the attack. However, shortly after she intercepted an SOS indicating the vessel was the Spanish EARG. This was actually the call sign of Cuidad De Palma (3,959 GRT, built 1930). [Thanks to Lorenzo Colombo for providing this answer].
  29 Jun 19412208
(0) Off Cape St. Vincent.
At a distance of 7,000 metres, the submarine spotted a destroyer coming toward her and dived to avoid being seen. C.C. Boris decided to delay the passage through the Straits if Gibraltar by one day.
  2 Jul 19410230
(0) Off Cape Tariffa (Morocco).
A destroyer or torpedo-boat was seen silhouetted against the Moroccan coast at a distance of 1,500 metres but Boris decided to continue his route on the surface and was not detected.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)28 Aug 19410850Naples28 Aug 19411517Naples42Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)1 Sep 19410900Naples1 Sep 19411202Naples23Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)3 Sep 19411425Naples3 Sep 19412102Naples32Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)10 Sep 19410800Naples10 Sep 19411820Naples59Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)18 Sep 19410900Naples18 Sep 19411630Naples38Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)19 Sep 19410900Naples19 Sep 19411630Naples30Trials, escorted by the torpedo boat La Masa.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)20 Sep 19411305Naples20 Sep 19411933Naples56Trials.

5.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)23 Sep 19410645Naples4 Oct 19410910Naples1919Patrolled south of Balearic Islands in area between 37°10'N and 37°50'N, and between 01°00'E and 01°20'E. On 25th September, ordered to move 20 miles to the south.
  24 Sep 1941061038° 19'N, 8° 41'EA submarine, similar to Dandolo, was seen but could not be identified.
  29 Sep 1941064537° 17'N, 1° 07'EA destroyer was seen at 1,000 metres followed by two cruisers. The submarine attempted to make a bow attack. Auconi then decided to try a stern shot at 600 metres, but was thwarted by the appearance of a second destroyer and went deep.
  30 Sep 1941031837° 14'N, 1° 01'EFive destroyers were seen and the submarine took avoiding action.
  30 Sep 1941064837° 14'N, 1° 01'E
(0) Approximately.
Dandolo sighted a dark vessel coming at her at high speed. The submarine crash-dived but appeared to have been the subject of a systematic A/S search by four vessels. From 0925 to 1330 houra, Dandolo was severely depth-charged,with patterns from six to eight depth-charges.
  3 Oct 1941062538° 43'N, 9° 35'EAn unknown submarine was observed steering 200°, which was later reported as enemy (apparently none in area). Auconi ordered the gun crew to action station but decided to disengage.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)20 Oct 19411355Naples20 Oct 19411920Naples40Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)22 Oct 19410950Naples22 Oct 19411830Naples43Trials.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)24 Oct 19410905Naples24 Oct 19411323Naples32Trials.

6.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)30 Oct 19411700Naples12 Nov 19411145Naples2317,3Sailed for patrol, initially along the Algerian coast, between 02°00'E and 03°00'E, within 10 to 20 miles from the coast. Then ordered between 36°00'N and the Moroccan coast, 02°40'W and 03°20'W (or between 37°40'N and 38°20'N, and between 04°20'E and 04°40'E?), as a sortie of Force H was expected.
  1 Nov 1941133538° 00'N, 7° 37'EA British bomber was sighted at 8,000 metres and the submarine dived.
  4 Nov 19410440-0552
0340 (e)
36° 44'N, 2° 29'EAt 0345 hours, a large steamer was sighted at distance of 8,000 metres and later identified as a 10,000-ton tanker. Although she was identified as French by her markings and by signals exchanged with Algiers, Auconi believed it might be a British tanker disguised as such and, just after 0440 hours, Dandolo opened fire with both her deck guns scoring hits while the target returned fire.

This was the Vichy tanker Tarn (4,220 GRT, built 1939) on passage from Casablanca to Algiers.

Dandolo now fired a salvo of three torpedoes from her bow tubes and scored one hit. The tanker Tarn was damaged and had two men killed.

At 0552 hours, Dandolo tried to finish off Tarn with a stern shot but missed. The tanker managed to reach Algiers at 1100 hours the same day.
  8 Nov 19410745
0700 (e)

(0) Bay of Melilla.
At 0720 hours, a merchant ship was sighted, which was poorly illuminated and did not show any national markings.

At 0745 hours, Dandolo fired a single torpedo from tube no.1 (her last torpedo available in the bow tubes). It appeared to have an erratic run initially, but 80 seconds later a hit was observed under the stern and the vessel sank in three or four minutes.

This was the second error Auconi committed on this patrol, as the target was the Spanish Castillo Oropesa (6,600 GRT, built 1917 [also listed as 5,177 GRT]). In ballast, she had left Barcelona for Melilla and was now awaiting permission to enter harbour to pick up iron ore for Gijon. There were no casualties. This was another embarrassing incident for Italian authorities, who tried to deny that the culprit was an Italian submarine. However, the Spaniards recovered fragments of the torpedo and identified it as of Italian manufacture. Officially, the Italian government refuted the accusations by stating that Italian torpedoes had been sold to Yugoslavia and the Netherlands and arguing this did not constitute a proof of Italian involvement.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)6 Dec 19411003Naples6 Dec 19411615Naples43Trials.

7.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)10 Dec 19411133Naples11 Dec 19410845Messina226,5Supply mission to Bardia via Messina. Phase 1. Uneventful.

8.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)12 Dec 19411605Messina18 Dec 19411800BardiaSupply mission to Bardia (18 tons: 2 tons of fuel, 16 tons of food supplies). Phase 2.
  13 Dec 1941093538° 10'N, 19° 04'EAn unidentified aircraft was seen and the submarine dived.
  13 Dec 1941143035° 50'N, 19° 46'ETwo unidentified aircraft were seen at 4,000 metres and the submarine dived.
  13 Dec 1941162035° 44'N, 19° 58'EA derelict mine was observed but not destroyed.
  15 Dec 1941082034° 05'N, 23° 30'EAn unidentified aircraft was seen flying low and the submarine dived.
  15 Dec 1941100734° 02'N, 23° 16'EAn unidentified aircraft was seen at 4,000 metres and the submarine dived.
  15 Dec 1941113533° 58'N, 23° 42'E
(0) Approximately.
An unidentified aircraft was seen at 5,000 metres, but the submarine remained on the surface as it appeared to be moving away.
  15 Dec 1941114533° 58'N, 23° 42'EAn unidentified aircraft was seen at 3,000 metres and the submarine dived.

9.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)18 Dec 19412150Bardia20 Dec 19410850Suda1384,5Return trip from supply mission to Bardia with fifteen PoWs (six British officers and nine other ranks). British Intelligence was aware of her passage through ULTRA decrypt.
  19 Dec 1941102533° 56'N, 24° 35'EAn unidentified aircraft was seen at 6,000 metres and the submarine dived.

10.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)24 Dec 19411700Suda26 Dec 19411830BardiaSupply mission to Bardia (2 tons of fuel, 16 tons of food supplies). Uneventful.

11.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)26 Dec 19412200Bardia31 Dec 19411750Taranto1276Return trip from supply mission to Bardia (with ten Italian soldiers and ten Indian PoWs). Uneventful.
  27 Dec 19410935
0945 (e)
33° 08'N, 24° 46'E
(e) 33° 08'N, 25° 13'E
At 0935 hours, a twin-engine bomber was sighted at 1,500 metres and it made a recognition signal. At first, it was believed to be perhaps a German aircraft. But then as it closed to 200 metres, it was recognised as enemy and the submarine's twin Breda guns which had been manned opened fire but repeatedly jammed so Dandolo escaped by diving ten minutes later. This was a Beaufort of 39 Squadron.
  28 Dec 1941082034° 16'N, 22° 43'E
(0) Approximately.
An unidentified aircraft was seen, the submarine dived and heard distant explosions.
  31 Dec 1941035039° 25'N, 18° 04'EAn unknown vessel was sighted, probably an Italian submarine [Cagni, Millo and Mocenigo were expected to arrive in Taranto at about the same time]. This was probably Mocenigo.

Dandolo ( DO, I.16)26 Jan 19420855Bardia26 Jan 19421707Taranto65,5Trials.

12.Dandolo ( DO, I.16)9 Feb 19421150Taranto25 Feb 19421400Augusta2088Patrolled north of Cyrenaica within 8 miles on meridian of 33°50'N 20°30'E with Mocenigo in an adjacent area.
  10 Feb 1942230038° 31'N, 18° 50'EUnknown submarine was sighted on opposite course, believed to be Mocenigo.
  14 Feb 19421034At 1034 hours, Dandolo was informed that a convoy of 22 ships was sighted at 0800 hours in 34°43' N, 21°45' E steering 310°. The submarine was just proceeding to intercept when, at 1100 hours, a signal was received reporting a second convoy at 0900 hours in 35°03' N, 17°55' E on a 105° course. Dandolo proceeded on a course to sight both convoys, but heard only very distant H.E. believed to be the convoy on the starboard side at 60 miles and the one on the port side at 90 miles.
  14 Feb 19421310At 1310 hours, the submarine was informed that a third convoy with a battleship, three cruisers and a number of destroyers was sighted at 1020 hours in 34°43' N, 18°55' E on a 120° course. This was probably Force B with convoy M.E.10. Auconi believed that this convoy would pass through Dandolo's position and at 1436 H.E. were heard from what was believed to be this convoy. At 1900 hours the submarine surfaced in 33°53' N, 20°26' E.
  14 Feb 1942200033° 53'N, 20° 26'EA derelict mine was observed.
  20 Feb 19420415At 0415 hours, the submarine was informed of a naval force located at 0330 hours in 33°03' N, 23°07' E. The submarine submerged for a listening watch, but nothing was detected.
  21 Feb 1942204533° 23'N, 23° 25'EA derelict mine was observed.
  24 Feb 1942061834° 51'N, 20° 40'EAt 0618 hours, the submarine Tricheco was encountered. She was in difficulty after suffering severe weather damage. The previous evening, at 2000 hours, Dandolo had been informed of her predicament and ordered by MARICOSOM to proceed to her assistance. Dandolo and Tricheco proceeded in company at 11 knots to Augusta.
  24 Feb 1942160035° 34'N, 19° 01'EA derelict mine was observed.

Luigi Torelli (TI, I.9, UIT.25)23 Sep 1942Bordeaux25 Jan 1943BordeauxRepairs at Bordeaux. Change in command.

Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)4 May 1943Bordeaux5 May 1943PMLa PallicePassage Bordeaux-La Pallice.

13.Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)11 May 1943Bordeaux9 Jul 19431515Sabang12122Storing trip to the Far East (95 tons).
  14 May 19430750-082245° 02'N, 9° 21'WAt 0750 hours, two A/S motorboats were observed.
  18 May 1943?37° 50'N, 17° 25'WDuring the night, an illuminated steamer was sighted steering east by northeast.
  27 May 1943?10° 10'N, 24° 20'WDuring the night, an illuminated steamer was seen on a southwest course.
  24 Jun 1943?During the night, an illuminated steamer on a southwest course. The submarine submerged to avoid being seen.
  25 Jun 1943?22° 20'S, 60° 10'EDuring the day, a 7,000-ton steamer was observed. The submarine submerged to avoid being seen.

14.Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)10 Jul 19431935Sabang14 Jul 19431029Singapore (Syonan)Passage Sabang-Singapore, escorted by sloop Eritrea.

15.Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)21 Aug 1943Singapore (Syonan)24 Aug 1943SabangSailed for Bordeaux escorted by Eritrea, but ordered back to Singapore by Tokyo, to sail with Giuliani instead. Since Torelli was due to arrive in Singapore where only two Italian submarines could be accommodated, it was decided to go to Sabang instead.

Comandante Alfredo Cappellini (CL, I.4, UIT.24)13 Sep 1943Sabang15 Sep 1943Singapore (Syonan)Passage Sabang-Singapore. Taken over by the Japanese, then by the Germans on 10 September 1943. Renamed UIT-24. Under Oberleutnant Heinrich Pals, with a mixed crew of Italian and German sailors, she carried out six patrols. Auconi and his crew were interned by the Japanese. On 29th October 1943, they were put on the German blockade-runner Burgenland which sailed for Bordeaux, but on 5th January 1944, she was located by a Martin PBM-3S "Mariner" of VP-203 (Lt. Stanley V. Brown) and was then damaged by gunfire from the light cruiser USS Omaha and the destroyer USS Jouett (DD-396). Later scuttled in 08°06'S, 26°45'W. On 7 January, twenty-one survivors were picked up by the destroyer USS Davis (DD-395) and on 8 January, thirty-five survivors were picked up by the destroyer USS USS Winslow (DD-359). Auconi and thirty-one survivors were picked up by a Brazilian ship.

57 entries. 30 total patrol entries (15 marked as war patrols) and 35 events.

Italian Commanders

Italian Submarines