Italian submarine Lafolè

The Lafolè was a submarine of the Royal Navy.


On 12 December 1938 he was stationed in the base of Leros. Later he was transferred to Tobruk, framed in the 62nd Squadron (VI Grupsom) and under the command of Lieutenant Piero Riccomini.

June 10, 1940, with the entry of ‘Italy in World War II, he was sent near Sollum and then moved off Tobruk, he returned ten days later, without reporting any sighting.

On July 3, operated between the ‘island of Gavdos (near Crete) and Derna on days 7 and 8 and noticed the presence of opposing units in anti-submarine research, not, however, came the sighting and returned to base July 14.

On 21 September he was placed in ambush defensive in the Gulf of Taranto.

Lieutenant Piero Riccomini, commander of a mate, the Gondar, was commissioned to replace the commander of Lafolè who was unwell, so as to ensure the accomplishment of the mission which had been earmarked for the drive.

On 10 October 1940, the Lafolè left the port in a direct ‘area of operations between the parallel 35 ° 40′ N and the coast of Morocco between Cape and Cape Quillates Agua, to the east of Gibraltar.

On October 15, he arrived in his area (southeast of the ‘island of Alboran and north of Cape Tres Forcas near Melilla) and began patrolling. Three days later, however, one of its sister ships, the  Durbo, on a mission in an ‘area not far away, was sunk by British destroyers Firedrake and Wrestler, before the submarine sank, a boarding party had to climb on board, grabbing some secret documents: one of these the English had learned the location of the Lafolè, and then organized a trap.

Around eleven o’clock in the morning of 20 October, the submarine sighted the British destroyers Gallant and Griffin, in low-speed navigation, engaged in the search for submarines and seemingly unaware of his presence, then went to attack them, approaching up to 500 meters. In fact, the Lafolè had been identified by the British ships, which had not attacked only to avoid arousing suspicion, in the meantime, in fact, was positioned at 5000-6000 meters from the submarine, on the opposite side of the Gallant and Griffin, the destroyer Hotspur. As soon as the Lafolè launched a torpedo with the stern tube, the three English units attacked him with depth, the submarine was severely damaged from the first launch of depth, finding himself with the electric motors out of use and serious damage to the axes propellers and pumps trim, as well as with serious difficulties in handling and maintaining the ‘trim and depth (so much so that many times it was – unintentionally – almost at the surface); managed to remain immersed for seven hours in spite of the serious damage inflicted by hunting.

At 18:30 the Lafolè came to surface again, pushing out d ‘water the entire turret while he was coming in for a download of depth, the’ Hotspur, which then ended up with the ram the Italian submarine: the Lafolè sank in a few moments, bringing with him the commander Riccomini, among other 3 officers and 36 NCOs and sailors.

They had miraculously saved his life the second in command (lieutenant Mario Frederici) and eight other men: all ‘surfacing of the submarine had tried to open the door of the tower to bring down the pressure, just at the time the collision, at which point it was the same pressure to launch them all ‘outside through the open window in the turret from the bow of the destroyer. Two of the survivors were rescued by Gallant and the other 7 from ‘Hotspur.The British ship had serious injuries in the collision, having to remain under repair until 20 February 1941.

The Lafolè had played in all five combat missions, covering a total of 2442 miles on the surface and underwater 901.

The Commander Riccomini Piero was awarded the Silver Medal for Military Valour (memory) for the long and strenuous battle against sustained learn English forces for the defense of its unity and its crew.

Submarines of the Royal Navy

Submarines built by Odera-Terni-Orlando

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