Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi

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Davide Pastore
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Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi

Post by Davide Pastore » 04 Dec 2005 14:42

[Split from "Little known facts..."]

Well, the following were a couple of misconceptions (for someone) during the war; they are no more so... however it makes funny reading!

At 2:50 on 20 May 1942, position 4°19'S 34°32'W, Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi of Italian submarine Barbarigo made a night surfaced attack, and sank (or at least, thought he had done so...) a Maryland-class USN battleship, which he had found sailing unescorted and alone. On an explicit Mussolini's order, Grossi was promoted on the spot to Capitano di Fregata and was awarded with the Medaglia d'Oro (same rewards as WW1 naval hero Luigi Rizzo, who sank the Austro-Hungarian battleship Szent Istvan with a MAS) without waiting for any confirmation: actually, without even waiting for the boat to return to base. In the picture below the happy sub entering Bordeaux on 16 June.

After the Barbarigo's commander and crew had enjoyed a much-publicized tour to Rome, the sub was sent again in the Atlantic. At 2:34 on 6 October 1942, position 2°10'N 14°10'W, this very lucky skipper hit again: with another night surfaced attack he sank (or at least, thought he had done so...) a Mississippi USN battleship, again sailing unescorted and alone. As before, by explicit Mussolini's intervention, Grossi was immediately promoted to Capitano di Vascello and would have been awarded with a second Medaglia d'Oro; however, the Navy Chief of Staff argued so strongly against this that the Duce accepted the compromise of promoting him, but withholding the medal until confirmation of the sinking. But, as to make up for it, Grossi received the Iron Cross by the hands of Admiral Dönitz himself (my photo is very out of focus, so I didn't scan it).

Shortly later, Grossi was promoted to chief of Betasom (Italian sub group at Bordeaux), disembarking from Barbarigo and so missing the chance to destroy a third (a fourth, a fifth...) USN battleship. A covered action orchestrated by OSS? :wink:

After the war (by this time commander Enzo Grossi, having made the fatal mistake of choosing R.S.I. in 1943, had been demoted to infantry private) the Italian Navy researched carefully the above claims, and came to the following conclusions:

- night of 20 May: Barbarigo had met CL5 Milwaukee escorted by DD 362 Moffett (in the dark, the two ships had looked like a single bigger one) and had launched two torpedoes which did not hit anything due to a big mistake in estimating target speed (and were not even sighted by the Americans, who calmly proceeded on along their route). There was no explosion whatsoever, so one has to wonder how Grossi came to his conclusions.

- night of 6 October: Barbarigo met the isolated corvette HMS Petunia and launched some torpedoes which, having being regulated on a BB draught, passed harmlessy under the tiny ship. Petunia promptly chased the sub, and the depth charge explosions might have looked to Grossi like a battleship blowing up.

Davide
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Edward L. Hsiao
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Little known facts...

Post by Edward L. Hsiao » 07 Jan 2006 04:26

Gentlemen,

Commander Enzo Grossi sure made plenty of goofs in identification of the size and types of ships. I wonder if was seeking glory for himself? I'm surprised that Grossi didn't learn how to carefully identify types of ships when he was in submarine school! :roll:

Edward

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Davide Pastore
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Re: Knight's Cross for Misidentification!

Post by Davide Pastore » 07 Jan 2006 14:36

Edward L. Hsiao wrote:I wonder if was seeking glory for himself?


Well, for all his defects (and, as you can see, eyesight was one !!!) Grossi is believed to have been in good faith - although, after he met the second unescorted battleship, probably some bell should have ringed into his brain.

But the thing turned really ridicoulous only after the government insisted in public immediate aknowledging of the two sinkings, without any confirmation.

Davide

CHRISCHA
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Re: Little known facts...

Post by CHRISCHA » 23 Jan 2010 12:01

Davide Pastore wrote:
Christian Ankerstjerne wrote: Let's start a thread to state misconceptions often posted as facts, and the correct 'answer' to these.
Well, the following were a couple of misconceptions (for someone) during the war; they are no more so... however it makes funny reading!

At 2:50 on 20 May 1942, position 4°19'S 34°32'W, Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi of Italian submarine Barbarigo made a night surfaced attack, and sank (or at least, thought he had done so...) a Maryland-class USN battleship, which he had found sailing unescorted and alone. On an explicit Mussolini's order, Grossi was promoted on the spot to Capitano di Fregata and was awarded with the Medaglia d'Oro (same rewards as WW1 naval hero Luigi Rizzo, who sank the Austro-Hungarian battleship Szent Istvan with a MAS) without waiting for any confirmation: actually, without even waiting for the boat to return to base. In the picture below the happy sub entering Bordeaux on 16 June.

After the Barbarigo's commander and crew had enjoyed a much-publicized tour to Rome, the sub was sent again in the Atlantic. At 2:34 on 6 October 1942, position 2°10'N 14°10'W, this very lucky skipper hit again: with another night surfaced attack he sank (or at least, thought he had done so...) a Mississippi USN battleship, again sailing unescorted and alone. As before, by explicit Mussolini's intervention, Grossi was immediately promoted to Capitano di Vascello and would have been awarded with a second Medaglia d'Oro; however, the Navy Chief of Staff argued so strongly against this that the Duce accepted the compromise of promoting him, but withholding the medal until confirmation of the sinking. But, as to make up for it, Grossi received the Iron Cross by the hands of Admiral Dönitz himself (my photo is very out of focus, so I didn't scan it).

Shortly later, Grossi was promoted to chief of Betasom (Italian sub group at Bordeaux), disembarking from Barbarigo and so missing the chance to destroy a third (a fourth, a fifth...) USN battleship. A covered action orchestrated by OSS? :wink:

After the war (by this time commander Enzo Grossi, having made the fatal mistake of choosing R.S.I. in 1943, had been demoted to infantry private) the Italian Navy researched carefully the above claims, and came to the following conclusions:

- night of 20 May: Barbarigo had met CL5 Milwaukee escorted by DD 362 Moffett (in the dark, the two ships had looked like a single bigger one) and had launched two torpedoes which did not hit anything due to a big mistake in estimating target speed (and were not even sighted by the Americans, who calmly proceeded on along their route). There was no explosion whatsoever, so one has to wonder how Grossi came to his conclusions.

- night of 6 October: Barbarigo met the isolated corvette HMS Petunia and launched some torpedoes which, having being regulated on a BB draught, passed harmlessy under the tiny ship. Petunia promptly chased the sub, and the depth charge explosions might have looked to Grossi like a battleship blowing up.

Davide
Hello.

Very intresting story.

Why was he demoted? (Chosing R.S.I.)?

Regards,
Chris.

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Marcus
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Re: Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi

Post by Marcus » 26 Jan 2013 10:48

Slit from the mixed bag thread ""Little known facts..." in the equipment section and moved to this section.

/Marcus

JLEES
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Re: Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi

Post by JLEES » 10 Feb 2013 17:01

Does anyone know what date Admiral Dönitz himself award Grossi with the Iron Cross? How long was it after he claimed to have sunk the second US battleship?
James

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tigre
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Re: Capitano di Corvetta Enzo Grossi

Post by tigre » 21 Jan 2020 22:36

Hello to all :D; more.................................

BETASOM.

Source: Illustrierte Beobachter 1943. Folge 20.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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