Carlo Margottini (Rome, January 19, 1899 -
Strait of Sicily, October 12, 1940) was an Italian Captain.
He served with the Italian Royal Navy (Regia
Marina) during WWI and WWII.
He was among the victims of the sinking of
the Destroyer Artigliere.
Medaglia d'oro al Valor Militare - Gold Medal
of Military Valour
Cavaliere dell'Ordine Militare di Savoia -
Knight of the Military Order of Savoy
Medaglia di bronzo al Valor Militare - Bronze
Medal of Military Valour
Destroyer ‚Artigliere’ - lost on October
sunk by HMS York after being damaged at the Battle of Cape Passero the
122 survivors, the 132 casualties included the CO, Captain Carlo
The Battle of Cape Passero (Sicily) - October
The Italian commander - Admiral Inigo Campioni - ordered a force of
destroyers to Cape Bon, in case the British warships were going to Gibraltar.
In Campioni's view, it was too late for the Italian battleships and cruisers
to operate against the convoy. A flotilla of four destroyers and three
torpedo boats were, at the same time, patrolling between 35° 45’ N and 35°
25′N, at about 3 nmi (3.5 mi; 5.6 km) apart, in full moonlight. The
Italian destroyers - all Soldati-class - were the Artigliere, Camicia Nera,
Aviere, and Geniere. The torpedo boats were the Spica-class Ariel, Alcione,
Torpedo boat action
At 01:37, HMS Ajax was sighted by Alcione, steaming eastward, 19,600 yd
(17,900 m) away on the port side. At 01:48, the three torpedo boats were
closing the British cruiser at full speed. The cruiser was completely unaware
of the enemy approach. At 01:57, Alcione fired two torpedoes from a range of
1,900 yd (1,700 m). Captain Banfi, commander of the Italian formation, ordered
the flagship Airone to open fire on the enemy with her 3.9 in (99 mm) guns,
followed by her sister ships. Three rounds hit home, two on the bridge and
the third 6 ft (1.8 m) below the waterline.
Ajax had realized she was under attack, and opened fire on the nearest
torpedo boat - Ariel - while at full speed. Ariel was shattered by the salvos
and sank 20 minutes later, although she may have been able to fire a torpedo.
Captain Mario Ruta, his second in command, and most of the crew were killed.
Airone was the next Italian ship to be hit. She managed to launch two
torpedoes before being disabled, catching fire almost immediately, her bridge
and upper deck machine-gunned by Ajax at short range. She sank a few hours
later. Banfi was among the survivors. Then Alcione - the only Italian warship
undamaged - broke contact at 02:03.
Meanwhile, after manoeuvering during the fighting, Ajax resumed her course to
the eastward. At 02:15, her fire-control radar detected two Italian
destroyers, whose commander - Captain Carlo Margottini - had sighted the
firing from the south. A radio malfunction had prevented Margottini from
attacking in full strength, when three of his destroyers had headed
north-west, instead of north as ordered. Aviere was battered by a sudden
broadside from the British cruiser, forestalling a torpedo attack, and was
forced to withdraw southwards, heavily damaged. Artigliere managed to fire a
torpedo and four full 4.7 in (120 mm) gun salvos at 2,800 yd (2,600 m) before
being hit and crippled. The torpedo missed, but four rounds struck two of
Ajax’s secondary gun turrets and disabled her radar. After unsuccessfully
firing at Camicia Nera, Ajax broke off the action. She had fired 490 rounds
of different calibres and four torpedoes. Thirteen of her ship's company had
been killed and more than 20 wounded, while the cruiser required a month of
repairs before she returned to active service.
The disabled Artigliere - with her commander and most staff officers killed -
was taken in tow by Camicia Nera. They were surprised at first light by the
cruiser HMS York, which drove off Camicia Nera before sinking Artigliere. The
survivors were rescued the next day by the Italian Navy.