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2 Comments | Vintage
As far as I know, this is an original color photo rather than a colorized one.
In early May 1943, as the Tunisian Campaign neared its end, four convoys sailed from harbours in Southern Italy, heading for Tunis. They were the last of the 1,034 Axis convoys that sailed between Italy and North Africa from June 1940 to May 1943.
On May 3, the Italian motorship Belluno left Trapani escorted by the torpedo boat Tifone.
On the same day, the Italian steamer Campobasso sailed from Pantelleria, escorted by the torpedo boat Perseo.
On May 4, the Italian steamer Sant’Antonio left Naples, escorted by the torpedo boats Groppo and Calliope.
On May 7, the German military transports (Kriegstransporter) KT 5, KT 9 and KT 21 sailed from Trapani.
Perseo and Campobasso were intercepted by the British destroyers Nubian, Petard and Paladin and both sunk, with the loss of 206 men. Sant’Antonio was sunk by B-24 Liberators off Sicily; Groppo and Calliope rescued the 52 survivors (from a crew of about 80) and returned to port. KT 5, KT 9 and KT 21 dropped anchor off Cape Bon on May 8 (Tunis had fallen on the previous day) but were all sunk by air strikes before being able to unload their cargo.
Belluno and Tifone, on May 6, were the last Axis ships to reach Tunis. Belluno unloaded her supplies, then embarked about 700 Allied prisoners; she was scheduled to sail for Italy on the following day, again escorted by Tifone. In the early evening of May 6, however, Tifone was targeted with multiple attacks by Allied aicraft; she shot down three of the attackers, but was hit by two bombs and suffered additional damage from from strafing and multiple near misses. The attacks left six men dead, about twenty or thirty seriously wounded, and serious damage to her machinery and armament. After assessing the damage, and concluding that Tifone would never get back to Italy in that condition – she could only steam at a few knots, and would be a sitting duck for any further air strikes, not to mention the British destroyers that now patrolled the Tunisian coast to intercept any Axis vessel evacuating troops to Italy – her commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Stefano Baccarini, ordered her scuttled on that night. Tunis was captured by the Allies a few hours later; six days later, all Axis troops in Tunisia surrendered.
For what I know it’s an original color picture. I have a book written by one of Tifone’s survivors, interesting for know more about the life on an italian escort ship during the last months before the armistice.