Decima Flottiglia MAS: The Best Commandos of the Second World War

Decima Flottiglia MAS: The Best Commandos of the Second World War

by Walter Zapotoczny Jr.


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A group of determined young human torpedoes and assault swimmers fought bravely for Italy in the Second World War, inspiring fear and respect from the British Navy. The actions of these few men severely reduced British naval power in the Mediterranean. Even with small numbers, and using relatively limited resources, the frogmen were a very effective force in the war against the British. By the end of the war, these men would sink or severely disable over 73,000 tons of Allied warships, and over 128,000 tons of merchant shipping. The story of the Italian frogmen is one of determination and bravery. Against overwhelming odds, they were able to inflict considerable damage on Allied shipping. Their tactics also aroused confusion and nervousness with the Allied commanders and their ship’s crews. Italy's Decima Flottiglia MAS pre-dates both the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams, formed in 1943 and forerunners of the better-known U.S. Navy SEALs; and the British Royal Marines Special Boat Service formed as an offshoot of the Special Air Service in 1941. Perhaps the determination and actions of the Decima Flottiglia MAS qualify them as the best commandos of the Second World War. This book tells their story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625451132
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Publication date: 06/22/2017
Sales rank: 429,401
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr. is an award-winning writer and editor with over 25 years’ experience producing many different types of copy. He is the author of over 150 published articles and three books. Walter is a contributing writer and reviewer for several international publications. He is a former historian with the US Army, specializing is military history, Holocaust studies and events that transcend single states, regions and cultures. A native of Pennsylvania, Walter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in world military history and a Master of Arts with honors in global history from American Public University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 7

1 The Origins of the Italian Commandos: World War I 11

First Attack at Pola Harbour 15

The Sinking of the Battleship SMS Wien 16

Bay of Bakar Raid 17

The Sinking of the SMS Szent István 18

The Sinking of the SMS Viribus Unitis 18

Italy's Naval Strategy in the Mediterranean after World War I 20

2 The Struggle over the Control of the Mediterranean in the 1930s and 1940s 24

3 The Regia Marina on the Eve of World War II 34

1a Flottiglia MAS 35

Maiale 41

Motor Assault Boats 45

CA and CB Class Mini-Submarines 48

CRDA Motor Torpedo Boat 49

Torpedo Launchers 50

Belloni Diving Suits 51

The First Military Grade Dive Watch 52

Pirelli Rebreathers 53

Mines 55

4 First Attacks on the British, 1940 56

The Regia Marina and the Mediterranean in 1940 56

Alexandria 63

Gibraltar 64

5 Creation of Decima Flottiglia MAS 70

6 Attacks in 1941 75

Suda Bay 75

Second Attack at Gibraltar 79

Malta 80

Third Attack at Gibraltar 82

Second Attack at Alexandria 87

7 The Plan to Attack New York 95

8 Attacks in 1942 100

Operation Pedestal 101

Black Sea Operations 103

Lake Ladoga 106

Algiers 107

9 The Olterra Secret 111

10 Attacks in 1943 116

Fourth Attack at Gibraltar 117

Alexandretta 118

Last Attack on Gibraltar 121

Decima Flottiglia MAS after the Armistice 122

11 Epilogue 126

Endnotes 130

Appendix I Ships Damaged or Sunk by Decima Flottiglia MAS 134

Appendix II Ships and Submarines Used to Transport Decima Flottiglia MAS 137

Appendix III Explosive Motorboats (MT) and Armed Motorboats SVAN (MAS) Built by the Regia Marina 142

Appendix IV Decima Flottiglia MAS Members Awarded the Golden Medal of Military Valor 172

Bibliography 191

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