Italian steamer Zeffiro

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jan-olof
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:07 pm

Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by jan-olof » Fri May 21, 2021 6:54 pm

Hello again,

does anyone know what caused the loss of this vessel on May 20th, 1941 off Cap Bon? Older sources credit the British submarine Urge while newer sources do not.

Best regards,

Jan-Olof
Platon Alexiades
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:49 pm

Re: Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by Platon Alexiades » Fri May 21, 2021 8:51 pm

Hello Jan-Olof,

The Italian Official History (Navi Mercantili Perdute) has attributed the loss of ZEFFIRO to HMS URGE in error.

ZEFFIRO hit two mines at 1020B/20 May in position 130° - Cape Bon 7 miles (approx. 37°00' N, 11°09' E).

The IOH was probably misled by the time as HMS URGE attacked the CAPO ORSO convoy (26.Seetransportstaffel) at 1013B/20 May but:
1. the position of HMS URGE attack was 35°46' N, 11°54' E about 80 miles away from the position of ZEFFIRO.
2. HMS URGE attacked a southbound convoy (described as two tankers and two merchant vessels escorted by five destroyers). ZEFFIRO was travelling singly northbound (she had sailed from Sfax loaded with phosphate at 0600 GMT/19 bound for Palermo).
3. HMS URGE was depth charged by the destroyer EURO escorting the CAPO ORSO convoy.

Note that the report written later by Captain Luigi Lerici of ZEFFIRO gives the date of the incident as 21 May, however French and Italian sources of the period are reporting it correctly as 20 May.

Best regards,

Platon
Platon Alexiades
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:49 pm

Re: Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by Platon Alexiades » Fri May 21, 2021 8:59 pm

Addendum:

ZEFFIRO apparently was a victim of the Italian S 11 minefield laid on 20 April 1941 by an Italian cruiser squadron and escorting destroyers.
jan-olof
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:07 pm

Re: Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by jan-olof » Sat May 22, 2021 9:22 am

Hello Platon,

excellent information as always, many thanks. As a quick follow up Navi Mercantili Perdute claims that the Perseo (4857 grt) was damaged on this date in the same area, is there any truth to that claim?

Best regards,

Jan-Olof
Platon Alexiades
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 2:49 pm

Re: Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by Platon Alexiades » Sat May 22, 2021 5:03 pm

Hello Jan-Olof,

Again Navi Mercantili Perdute erroneously attributes damage of Perseo to HMS Urge on 20 May 1941.
Perseo was actually bombed by RAF aircraft at 1725/22 May 1941 in 36°35' N, 11°34' E. She was on a trip from Palermo to Sfax to load phosphate. Damaged, she was abandoned by her crew and left drifting. The tug Montecristo and the torpedo boat Cosenz were sent to tow her away but were prevented by the bad weather. The wreck slowly drifted southward before ending up on a shoal near La Louza (Tunisia). The subsequent tribulations of Perseo could fill a little book. She was later salvaged.

One remark: the first distress signal by Perseo mentioned that she had been torpedoed by a submarine. This was an error and was later corrected as she was actually hit by several bombs (two unexploded bombs were later found). She had one killed and ten wounded.

it is a bit strange these errors from the Ufficio Storico regarding HMS Urge. The Zeffiro and Perseo were not the last ones!

Best regards,

Platon
jan-olof
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:07 pm

Re: Italian steamer Zeffiro

Post by jan-olof » Sat May 22, 2021 7:08 pm

Hello Platon,

Thanks yet again, another ambiguity cleared up.

I agree that it is strange that Navi Mercantili Perdute contains so many errors. I could post many questions wrt that and perhaps I will :)

Best regards,

Jan-Olof
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