The Battle of the Strait of Otranto channel took place during the night of 11-November 12, 1940, simultaneously with the events of the Taranto Attack.
On the night of 11/12 November,five British cruisers and destroyers were detached from the main fleet that was heading towards the Gulf of Taranto for Operation Judgement; and headed for the Strait of Otranto to intercept traffic to the Albania. The English squadron was formed by the light cruisers Orion, Ajax, Sydney with an escort of Tribal Class destroyers Nubian and Mohawk.all under command of V/Adm Pridham-Whipple
The Italian convoy was made up by the steamers Antonio Locatelli, Premuda, Cape Vado and Catalani, escorted by old destroyer Fabrizi, under the command of Lieutenant John Barbini, and the auxiliary from the cruiser RAMB III under the command of the frigate-captain Francesco De Angelis.
The British ships, crossed the channel, entered the Adriatic and intercepted a convoy to Vlora. The action took place at 1.05am on November 12. The British after locating the Italian convoy sank all the ships; in spite of the heroic defence by the torpedo boat Fabrizi,which was severely damaged, while the cruiser RAMB III, after an initial exchange of gunfire, vanished, leaving the ships to their fate, managing to break free and make for the port of Brindisi.It;s captain was severely reprimanded and relieved of command
The torpedo boat launched an attack; but made itself a target for intense enemy fire, and it was unable to attain full speed- because of the damage caused by enemy fire,but it did attempt to provide a chance for ships of the convoy to escape, by trying to strike at the enemy, but this was impossible, due to the damage it had suffered, the buoyancy of the torpedo boat was now compromised; which greatly reduced the efficiency of her gunfire,so the TB manoeuvered such to try to draw the enemy forces away from the field of action. The commander of the torpedo boat, wounded in the leg at the beginning of the fight, despite losing blood, managed to bring the TB back to port.The British warships quickly slipped away into the night- before they were spotted.
In this minor clash, 36 Italian sailors were killed and 42 were wounded. For this action, Lieutenant Franco Barbini was awarded the Gold Medal for bravery.
From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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