Italian merchant crews 1940-43?

Discussions on all aspects of Italy under Fascism from the March on Rome to the end of the war.
driftwood
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Italian merchant crews 1940-43?

Post by driftwood » 07 Jun 2020 21:16

Did the Italian merchant marine allow foreign sailors to work on their ships, or were these jobs only reserved for Italian citisens and colonial subjects? During the war the Brits, Americans, and Japanese allowed some foreigners from friendly or neutral nations to work aboard their merchant ships, so I'm curious if Italy did the same.

I'll throw in a second question as well: What sort of examination/training board did Italy have for merchant seamen (officers and ratings) ca. 1940-43? These days we have the international STCW convention, but back in the day it was much more decentralised and generally depended on the standards set by individual flag states, so I'd like to know how Italy handled this.

LColombo
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Re: Italian merchant crews 1940-43?

Post by LColombo » 08 Jun 2020 17:53

Regarding the first question, I do not have a sourced answer, but based on years of studying histories of Italian merchant ships in World War II, I think that the answer would be no. The only instances I have come across of non-Italian crew members on Italian merchant ships during the war are the following:

1) two Libyan stokers on the steamer Leopardi (owned by Tirrenia, a state-owned company, and lost in August 1940;
2) several Eritrean crew members on the small coastal steamer Impero (stationed in Eritrea in 1940-1941);
3) some Slovene/Croat crew members on former Yugoslav merchant ships, taken over by Italy following the invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941.

Some time ago I found mention in an English book of some French crew members of an Italian merchant ship sunk in 1943; this was one of the dozens of merchant ships ceded by Vichy France to Italy in late 1942/early 1943 following the Laval-Kaufmann agreement. However I am not very convinced, as this is the only mention of presence of French crew members on these ships I have ever seen, and it is a very loose mention (a downed British airman recalled that the Italian ship that picked him up was looking for these French survivors, and calling out for them in French).

driftwood
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Re: Italian merchant crews 1940-43?

Post by driftwood » 08 Jun 2020 18:03

LColombo wrote:
08 Jun 2020 17:53
Thanks for the reply. I could believe that story about the Frenchmen aboard a former French vessel, it's the same way some Finns ended up sailing for the Japanese merchant marine (their ship was taken over by Japan and they were kept aboard because they already knew the vessel and weren't enemy nationals). Still though, would be good if we could find more sources on this.

The mention of those Eritreans and Libyans is interesting, although for this particular question I wouldn't consider them "foreign" since they were part of the Italian empire at the time. Do you know if any of those Slovenes/Croats were citisens of one of the local puppet regimes after the invasion (like the Independent State of Croatia), or did they all become Italian nationals?

LColombo
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Re: Italian merchant crews 1940-43?

Post by LColombo » 09 Jun 2020 10:03

driftwood wrote:
08 Jun 2020 18:03
Do you know if any of those Slovenes/Croats were citisens of one of the local puppet regimes after the invasion (like the Independent State of Croatia), or did they all become Italian nationals?
No information, sorry. Italy annexated most of Dalmatia in 1941, so the second possibility is quite likely. But it is mostly speculation on my part.

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