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The first human torpedo, driven by Visintini and his Petty   The team from the Olterra continued to plan and
        Officer, Magro, was hit by one of the depth charges. The   execute attacks against allied shipping. In June 1943 the
        bodies of the crew were recovered later by the British and   entire Ursa Major team was awarded the Medaglia d’oro
        given a burial at sea with full military honours.     for their deeds, but the war was not going well for the
        The second maiale, manned by a Second Lieutenant Cella   Axis powers.
        and Sergeant Leone, was spotted on the surface by a   On the 13th of May, the Axis powers in North Africa had
        searchlight but managed to slip beneath the water and   surrendered. The allies had invaded Sicily on the 19th
        avoided the submarine chasers that were by now searching   July and were preparing to attack the Italian mainland.
        the anchorage furiously. Leone was washed from the maiale.   On the 25th of July Mussolini was removed from power,
        His body was never found, but Cella managed to return to   Italy was on the brink of collapse and negotiations
        the vicinity of the Olterra where he scuttled his craft and   towards a peace treaty between Italy and the Allies had
        returned to his base. The maiale was later brought back into   already, tentatively, started.
        the Olterra and repaired.
        The third maiale, manned by Midshipman Manisco and Petty   Notari was determined to fight to the end.
        Officer Varini, was also caught in searchlights and chased.   On the night of the 3rd of August 1943, the Ursa Major
        Running out of air they scuttled their craft and took refuge   team made their last foray. Notari led three human
        on an American freighter and later gave themselves up to   torpedoes and successfully reached the anchorage
        allied troops on Gibraltar. When interrogated they    undetected. He unattached his mine beneath a liberty
        maintained the attack had been launched from a submarine.  ship, the Harrison Grey Otis. While his crew member,
                                                              Petty Officer Giannoli, was working on attaching the
        Undeterred the Italians re-supplied the Olterra with men   mine the maiale malfunctioned and crash dived to a
        and maiale. A Lieutenant Notari took charge of the group.   depth of 34 metres. It then careered to the surface with
        On the 8th May 1943, a dark and stormy night as it    Notari half conscious. Having lost Giannoli and with his
        transpired, three human torpedoes set off. Their targets   craft damaged Notari made his escape at full speed on
        were allied freighters anchored as far as possible away from   the surface, his wake covered by a troop of dolphin that
        Algeciras. Second Lieutenant Cella, the only one to make it   fortuitously accompanied him. Giannoli meanwhile had
        back from the first attack, was in charge of one of the   attached the mine and climbed onto the ship’s rudder.
        maiale. This time the teams were more fortunate. They   After two hours he called for help and was taken aboard
        successfully mined three freighters, an American liberty ship   the Harrison Grey Otis. A member of Buster Crabb’s
        named Pat Harrison that was severely damaged and      team was called to search the hull for mines, but the
        became a total loss, the British freighter Mahsud which sank   mine exploded before the diver entered the water.
        to the bottom leaving only its upper works still visible and
        the freighter Camerata which sank outright. All three maiale   The Otis was declared a constructive total loss. The
        and their crews returned safely to the Olterra. A stunning   other two crews had also done their work and the
        success. To mislead the allies into thinking the attack had   Norwegian ship Thorshovdi and the British Stanridge
        been made by combat swimmers an Italian team scattered   were sunk.
                           scuba gear along the Spanish shore.  Just one month later, on the 3rd September 1943, the
                                                              Armistice of Cassibile was signed between Italy and the
                                                                   Allies, ending Italy’s part in the war.
                                                                   Lieutenant Notari and his Ursa Major team
                                                                   finished their war on a high note.








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