sinking of Italian hospital ship "Po"

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Christoph Awender
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sinking of Italian hospital ship "Po"

Post by Christoph Awender » 04 Feb 2003 06:06

Hello!

In mid march 1941 a daily report of the 12.Armee mentions the sinking of Lazarettschiff "Po" by air-torpedoes.
Further the report says that just personnel was onboard and casualties were light. Also Gräfin Ciano was on the ship.

I was not able to find any other information about the ship or this incident. Anyone can help out?

\Christoph

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Jack Nisley
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Sinking of Italian Hospital ship "Po"

Post by Jack Nisley » 04 Feb 2003 20:17

I can't quote a source but I remember reading a little about this incident. Ship was sunk in an Albanian harbor by land-based Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm torpedo bombers. Countess Ciano was the wife of Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, and Mussolini's daughter.

There is some general information on Italian hospital ships at reginamarina.net

Jack Nisley

Peter
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Post by Peter » 10 Feb 2003 16:55

What would you like to know, she was requisitioned by the Italian Navy on 21 Nov 40 and converted to a Hospital ship. 14/15 Mar 41 torpedoed by British aircraft and sunk in position 40 22 N by 19 28 E off Valona 1 mile off shore in 16 fathoms of water.

Po was a ship of the Lloyd Triestino Navigation line and operated by that company from Trieste. Built in 1911, 7289 tons, previously called the Wien till 1920, Vienna till 1938 and then called the Po.

There is a nice photo of her in Wartime Disasters at Sea by David Williams.

cheers
Pete

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Jack Nisley
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Sinking of Italian Hospital Ship "Po"

Post by Jack Nisley » 11 Feb 2003 21:15

Po was probably torpedoed by 815 Squadron FAA, shore-based in Crete after HMS Illustrious was damaged.

Jack Nisley

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 11 Mar 2003 04:16

I have a question about this. Iirc, two or three Italian hospital ships were sunk by the British. The British did not recognize Italian hospital ships because they were not of a certain tonnage is one reason I have heard although this is probably a myth I picked up somewhere. Anyone know of any truth to this, or why the British would attack hospital ships?

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Tancred
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Post by Tancred » 15 Mar 2003 22:05

Why wouldn't the British attack hospital ships? Wake up and smell the coffee!

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Beau sabreur
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Attacking hospital ships?

Post by Beau sabreur » 18 Mar 2003 03:58

Tancred wrote:Why wouldn't the British attack hospital ships? Wake up and smell the coffee!


Could you elaborate on your remark?

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 19 Mar 2004 06:52

Just saw this again a year later. ;)

Would you purposefully shoot medics on a combat field? Seems that if you were supposed to shoot hopsital ships that no one would bother painting big red crosses on them to identify that they are hospital ships.

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 19 Mar 2004 11:42

British policy was that larger hospital ships were under Hague Convention protection.However smaller hospital ships were "fair targets" because British considered they primary purpose to pick up unwounted air crews from sea.There was no official tonnage limit so larger hospital ships were sometimes attacked.

In May 43 German warcrimes bureau compiled a list of 9 German and 10 Italian hospital ships that were attacked.Later bureau made an list of 24 cases between May 43-December 44,when hospital ships were attacked.

One of most well studied case was sinking of Tübingen in 18 November 44 near Pola in the Adriatic.British made an investigation of that case and regretted it to German goverment in official answer on 4.12.44.

These cases are covered in Alfred de Zayas-The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau 1939-1945.

Cheers/Juha

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 19 Mar 2004 18:25

Italy, during WW2, used 11 hospital ships (navi ospedale: Aquileia, Gradisca, Arno, Città di Trapani, California, Po, Principessa Giovanna, Sicilia, Tevere, Virgilio, Toscana) and 7 rescue ships (navi soccorso: Capri, Epomeo, Laurana, Meta, Orlando, San Giusto, Sorrento). The latter were small (250 ~ 850 tons) and fast boats, 5 entered in service in Jan. 1941 and 2 in 1942; UK didn't recognize the status of hospital ships to them because they were considered too small to be distinguished from common ships; of them, the San Giusto was sunk, while the Capri, Laurana and Meta were damaged.
All the 11 Italian hospital ships were attacked at least once during WW2, six were sunk (Arno, California, Città di Trapani, Po, Sicilia, Tevere) and 3 damaged (Principessa Giovanna, Toscana and Virgilio).

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JeffreyF
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Post by JeffreyF » 20 Mar 2004 12:35

Thanks for the information. I had only remembered one of them being sunk. I believe one of the Agnelli(FIAT) daughters was on board one of these ships when it was sunk, no?

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DrG
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Post by DrG » 20 Mar 2004 15:24

JeffreyF wrote:Thanks for the information. I had only remembered one of them being sunk. I believe one of the Agnelli(FIAT) daughters was on board one of these ships when it was sunk, no?

Yes, Susanna Agnelli was a nurse on hospital ships during WW2, but I don't know if she was on one of those ships that were sunk.

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