25 July 1941 – today in history…

by on Jul.25, 2021, under Allgemein

Giobbe_Malta_600x600Augusta (Sicily) 11 pm. The night of 25 July 1941 marks the beginning of the “Operazione Malta 1”, known by its disastrous result for the Mezzi d’Assalto, only three months after the first successful attack with MT explosive boats against British ships in Souda Bay (Crete) on 26 March 1941. One day later, in the early morning of 26 July 1941, the Decima MAS lost the head of the flotilla (Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta), the head of explosive boats (Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe), the doctor of the flotilla (Tenente Medico Bruno Falcomatà), SLC pilots (including their inventor, Teseo Tesei) and MT explosive boats pilots during the attack of the harbour of La Valetta (Malta).

Giobbe_Panerai_600x600On a side note of the history, the commander of the explosive boats / “Mezzi di Superficie”, Giorgio Giobbe (1906-1941), is well known for wearing his Panerai watch on his right wrist in a photo taken prior the mission against Malta (see page 111-115 in chapter II.I). More about missions and watches of the Decima MAS can be found here.

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I – more information on the historic content in our “The References” book set can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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Mezzi d’Assalto

by on Jun.26, 2021, under Allgemein

MdA_MT_600x600Just a few days before the first success of the MT explosive boats on 26 March 1941 in Souda Bay, the 1st MAS Flotilla changed its name and became the 10th MAS Flotilla – the Decima MAS on 15 March 1941. Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta was the new commander and divided the special weaponry – Mezzi d’Assalto – into two divisions:

The surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe (see photo on page 115, commander Giobbe wearing clearly visible a Panerai watch on his right wrist) had a fleet of various explosive boats (category MT, MTM, MTR, MTS, MTMS, SMA and MTL) for sabotage operations, based in La Spezia.

MdA_Gamma_600x600The underwater division – Mezzi Subacquei – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Junio Valerio Borghese operated the diving School in Livorno, the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio, the transport submersibles (Scirè and Ambra) and the frogmen of the “Gruppo Gamma”.

After the desaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro. See page 116 with a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941:

preview_refv2_0116-0117_XaMAS_1941

Ernesto Notari became commander of the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio. His Ref. 3646 / Type A “Radiomir Panerai” (with its unique engraved caseback) is documented on page 58 – 91.

heritage_696_notari_060-061

Read more about the Mezzi d’Assalto on page 92 – 153 in chapter II.I of the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

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Visintini’s 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai”

by on May.10, 2021, under Allgemein

Rahmen_2019_3646TypeC_LVA watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar.

After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

The documentation of the watch (engraved caseback and view into the movement shown above) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

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Missions and Watches of the Decima MAS

by on Apr.18, 2021, under Allgemein

SLC_RC_300x300Watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio are deeply connected to the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the Second World War. In our book “The References” we have included an overview of the missions of the “Decima” aside the legendary watches, which were an important part of the units of the underwater (“Mezzi Subacquei” / “Gamma” frogmen and SLC) and surface (“Mezzi di Superficie” / explosive boats) special forces of the Decima MAS (“Mezzi d’Assalto”).

After the disaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro (the photo below shows a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941).

DecimaMAS_1941_300x300Chapter I and II of the first volume (1930’s-1940’s) carry the history of a new weapon – the SLC slow running torpedo, called “maiale” – and the men who trusted on the watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio during their dangerous missions in deep and darkness of the mediterranean sea. Because of the significance of the fascinating history behind these watches, we have dedicated our new book “The References” to the inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi.

Chapter II of “The References” features some of the rarest Panerai watches owned by famous and high decorated Italian veterans. The first watch of the Reference 3646 / Type A, featured in chapter II.I, belonged to Admiral Ernesto Notari. He was awarded with the Silver Medal for Gallantry at War (M.A.V.M.) for the mission B.G.6 in May 1943.

heritage_696_Notari_070-071
The documentation of the watch (see above page 70-71) and the history of Ernesto Notari, including a summary of the “Mezzi d’Assalto” missions until 8 September 1943 can be read from page 58 to 153 in chapter II.I.

Chapter II.II, about the watches of the Reference 3646 / Type B, features the watch of the legendary “Gamma” frogman Luigio Ferraro. He was awarded with the Gold Medal for Gallantry at War (M.O.V.M.) for his “Stella” missions in the eastern part of the mediterranean sea in 1943.

heritage_696_Ferraro_190-191
The documentation of the watch (see above page 190-191) and the history of Luigi Ferraro can be read from page 190 to 225 in chapter II.II.

A watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar. After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

heritage_696_Visintini_352-353
The documentation of the watch (see above page 352-353) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Reading a frogman’s battle report…

by on Apr.03, 2021, under Allgemein

One of the rarest historical documents which we came across during the research of our book “History2”: a handwritten battle report of a frogmen mission at the Pomeranian coast, dated April 3rd, 1945.

IMG_3727_600x600Documents from the last weeks of the Second World War are today, without a doubt, very hard to find – if existing after more than 70 years at all… With the support of the family of the German “Kampfschwimmer”, who once wrote this report after he returned safely from the combat zone, we were able to include this battle report (page 672-673 shown on the coffee table shot on the left) in chapter VII of “History2” (featuring the chapters V-IX with a total of 480 pages).

Interesting details in his handwritten battle report are the times which he mentioned aside other details, all easily readable on the sandwich dial of the Ref. 3646 / Type D (with 5 minute markers / indices) he was wearing during the mission: He wrote down 21:50, 23:30, 23:45, 23:50-0:30 and finally 2:05 AM – the moment he left the waters – after 4:15 hours trying to attack the Wollin railroad bridge together with a group of four frogmen from the “Einsatzgruppe Keller”, towing two mines thru the waters of the Dievenow. 

One of these five frogmen is featured in our book “History1”. Several pages of his diary are published in chapter II, where he wrote down what happened during the frogmen attack of the Gristow bridge at the Pomeranian coast (page 134-143).

IMG_3726_600x600Read more on further rare documents which helped us to capture the history behind the Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” watch, shown on the coffee table shot on the left here. Photos from the years 1944 and 1945 showing this watch on the frogman’s wrist, as well as his identification papers and travel documents issued in Venice, helped us to reconstruct the route he took to the mission grounds.

Obviously his handwritten battle report never reached the headquarters but somehow he managed to keep it safe for his personal records, giving us today, more than 70 years later, a detailed inside view on a mission he carried out together with four frogmen at the Eastern Front in April 1945…

Our two “History” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading stories behind these watches!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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One more 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” surfaced

by on Mar.29, 2021, under Allgemein

Another Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with anonymous dial has been added into our database: The first specimen of this number group in the year 2021.

The watch will be up for auction at Dr. Crott Auctioneers in their 104th Auction on 22 May, 2021. Further info on this Ref. 3646 / Type D is available in our Watch Point.

The watch is up for auction at Dr. Crott Auctioneers here.

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of Dr. Crott Auctioneers]

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Inventors, pilots and a royal visitor…

by on Mar.15, 2021, under Allgemein

The first watches for the pilots of the “new weapon” SLC were delivered in the middle of the 1930’s by Guido Panerai & Figlio to the Commando del 1° Gruppo Sommergibili of the Royal Italian Navy. According to the timeline of the development of the top secret slow running torpedos (siluro a lenta corsa, short: SLC) by the inventors Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, waterproof and luminous instruments for the pilots were necessary to carry out proper exercises and to control the SLC in depth and darkness.

IMG_2635_600x600The chapters I and II, dedicated to the first watches for underwater use (Ref. 2533 and 3646) take the readers of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s into these early years. Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi’s ideas became real. But strategic decisions after the Italo-Ethiopian War stopped the secret SLC project. The tests with these small weapons were archived and the Royal Italian Navy focused their interest in huge battleships, cruisers and destroyers.

The SLC project was re-started by the 1st Flottiglia MAS in 1939 at the advent of the Second World War. With the first missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto carried out from August 1940 onwards, the demand for skilled operators as well as new equipment – and more instruments for the operators – grew fast. An early Ref. 3646 / Type A, dated to April 1940, is featured in chapter II.I followed by the timeline of the missions carried out by the operators of the Decima Flottiglia MAS, the special commandos of the Royal Italian Navy.

IMG_3106_600x600The photo shows page 96 of “The References” with a historic photo from June 1940: The two inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, Alberto Franzini and Gino Birindelli above their co-pilots stand together with a royal visitor: Principe Aimone di Savoia Aosta, Duca di Spoleto –  just a few weeks before the first missions of the new weapon SLC were about to write naval history.

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I – more information on the historic content in our “The References” book set with a total of 1392 pages can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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The Radiomir which returned from Gibraltar to Italy…

by on Feb.28, 2021, under Allgemein

IMG_2843_600x600…but alone – without the SLC pilot who used it on his wrist during the mission B.G.5 in December 1942: Licio Visintini.

Born 1915 and enterred the Royal Italian Navy in 1933, Licio Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar as a member of the Decima MAS. In 1941 Visintini was promoted to Tenente di Vascello. After surviving from SLC missions B.G.3 (May 1941) and B.G.4 (September 1941), carried out by the transport submersible “Scirè” under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese, Visintini returned to Gibraltar undercover in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units in the bay of Gibraltar.

IMG_2842_600x600According to legend, Visintini’s „Radiomir Panerai“ was returned to his mother after the end of the Second World War by his former enemy, Lieutenant „Buster“ Crabb (head of the Underwater Working Party in Gibraltar). The return of personal items to relatives showed a great respect that the combatants on different sides had for one another. Crabb, who was himself an experienced diver serving the British Navy, knew from experience all too wellt he level of courage and determination that was neccessary to carry out missions of this kind. Before Visintini’s mother died, she gave the watch to Vittorio Stradi, her son’s best friend. Vittorio Stradi was a „Gamma“ frogman in the Second World War. Fourty years later he passed the watch to his friend Isidoro Mario Nardin, who was also a member of the „Gamma“ frogmen during the Second World War.

IMG_2841_600x600To commemorate the order of ownership, the three names were inscribed for posterity on the caseback, as shown on page 358-359 and 360. For Isidoro Mario Nardin, Licio Visintini’s Panerai watch became a symbol of cameraderie and a memento of his fallen comrade.

Chapter II.III in our new book “The References” (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) features the story behind this Ref. 3646 / Type C „Radiomir Panerai“ and its three owners, Licio Visintini (M.O.V.M.), Vittorio Stradi and Isidoro Mario Nardin, on page 350-397.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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NEW: Special Offers in our Bookstore!

by on Feb.19, 2021, under Allgemein

For a limited time we offer bundles of both, “The References” (1930’s-1940’s and 1950’s-1960’s), “History” (volume 1 and 2) and also the Complete Library 4 Volumes with special prices where you can save up to 171 Euros!

Complete Library 4 Volumes = 685 EUR (20% Discount)

You can purchase the special offers in our bookstore now!

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Missions of the Egypt frogmen

by on Feb.15, 2021, under Allgemein

IMG_3433_600x600The Red Sea, the Straits of Tiran, the Gulf of Aqaba, even the shores of Dakar (Senegal) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast) – target zones of the Egypt frogmen during the Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Not very much has been ever published before about missions against enemy ports, ships and oil platforms during the conflicts between Egypt and Israel. In the mid-50’s, both Egyptian and Israeli special forces attended separate training courses in Italy to learn the skills for underwater missions from their Italian instructors. After our search for historical documents and with the support of a high decorated Egypt frogmen veteran we were able to put a spotlight on some of the missions carried out decades ago.

Read the historical background on watches and instruments from Guido Panerai & Figlio used by the Egypt frogmen in chapter VII and IX of “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (second volume), accompanied with rare historic photos (page 794-795 shown in the coffee table shot above). The new “The References” books (two volumes with 696 pages each) can be ordered only in our bookstore. Enjoy reading!

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