Reply To: Clarification on Italian Ships at the Bombing of Bari Harbour – December 2 1943

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Peter C

    The book “Poisonous Inferno- WWII tragedy at Bari Harbour” by George Southern (Airlife 2002) contains a very good map (pp14-15) showing the positions of most of the ships at the time of the Luftwaffe Raid.

    The Ardito in question was a 32 grt fishing vessel, a motor schooner built in 1937 owned by Vitangelo Caputo. The ship was later refloated and returned to service and was chartered by the British Naval authorities.

    Argo had been scuttled by the Germans on their evacuation from Bari 9 September 1943. The ship was later salvaged. A cargo ship, built 1920, owned by S.A.T.I, had many former and subsequent names and finally wrecked 3 April 1971 as Anna Bianca owned by Domenico Biagio Fevola & Anna Salierno of Naples.

    Barletta was a Merchant Armed cruiser when lost. Built 1931 and owned by the large Adriatica concern. Her ammunition carried on board exploded as a result of fire caused by bomb hits and salvage was deemed useless. The ship was scrapped in 1948.

    Cassala was a tanker but was probably empty when attacked. The ship was built in 1902, 1797 tons ex Unio owned by Soc. Italiana Petroli ed Affini. The wreck was salvaged and scrapped Sep-Dec 1952 by Accitairiere & Ferriere, Pugliese.

    Corfu – I was not aware this ship was at Bari at the time of the raid. The vessel was built in 1907 and was ex Yugoslav Kumanovo. Owned by the Italian Government. The ship had been seized in April 1941, was seized at Bari in September 1943 and foundered off Syracuse 27 Dec 1944. The ship received bomb damage at Malta in July 1944 and this may have been responsible indirectly for her eventual loss.

    Frosinone (note spelling), a cargo ship built 1914, 5202 grt ex French Congo from 7 Dec 1942. Owned by the Italian Government. The ship was shelled and sunk on the afternoon of 9 September by the Germans who first removed some of her cargo of munitions. The ship was then salvaged and was further damaged by bombing on 2 Dec. I presume the wreck was scrapped although I have no details.

    Genepesca II (or Genepesca Seconda) was indeed a large trawler built in 1940, 1628 gross tons. Owned by Cia Generale Italiani della Grande Pesca. The ship was shelled and sunk by the Germans at Bari on the afternoon of 9 September as part of their efforts to deny the port to the Allies. I have no record of salvage so presume the wreck was still there on 2 Dec.

    Goggiam was a cargo ship built 1922, 1994 grt owned by Armnatore Ignazio Messina. The ship was torpedoed and badly damaged by the Polish Submarine Dzik 15 August 1943 27 miles 33 degrees from Punta San Cataldo while on a voyage from Valona to Bari. The ship was towed into Bari and beached at San Cataldo. On 1 January 1944 the ship was scuttled to fill a breach in the breakwater but was salved April 1948 and towed to Genoa and scrapped June 1949.

    Luciano Orlando was a small cargo ship built 1918, 86 tons (not 868) owned by Alfonso Marchetti. The wreck was later salvaged and scrapped.

    Porto Pisano- I have no technical info on this vessel and you might share with me what you have. She was moored at berth 9 on Vecchio Molo Foeaneo astern of Liberty ship Grace Abbott. The salvage tug Instancabile and harbour tugs Resistante and Capodistra were also in port.

    Volodda was ex Hain’s Foyle. The ship was built in 1915 and was 4703 gt. The ship was owned by Febo A Bertorello and had been scuttled at Bari (presumably 9 Sept 1943). The ship at the time was an unrepaired hulk. In 1947 the ship was salvaged and returned to service until scrapped at Bo’ness 1960 by P & W MacLennan Ltd – arrived 10/8/1960.

    MB-10 I have no information on this vessel. You might advise your source.

    I think you will struggle to find information on cargoes. Most of the Italian ships not moored along the Nuovo Molo Foraneo were probably empty but that’s only a guess.