Angelo Ferraro, born in 1919 and living in Moglia in the province of Mantua, is perhaps the last of the few survivors of the sinking of Laconia which took place on the evening of September 12, 1942.
The Laconia, owned by the British company Cunard, was the first ship of the line for the Americas, then ship luxury cruises around the world and during the Second World War, it was used to transport troops and prisoners.
When Angelo began his military service, his early twenties, the winds of war are blowing already across Europe and on 10 June 1940 Italy declares war to Britain and France. Enlisted in the Fifth Artillery Regiment of the Army, is sent to North Africa where the axis between Germany and Italy in command of Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, fights against the VIII British Army.
In mid-July of 1942 during the first southwest advanced of El-Alamein, Angelo and other 4,000 Italian soldiers are surrounded by British and Indian units and taken prisoner. In the port of Suez, to wait for him and his fellow sufferers, there are several ships that will lead them to english prison camps. Angelo boards the ship Laconia for Liverpool.
The ship, carrying 2,700 people including 1800 prisoners, began to circumnavigate Africa. The Italians are packed like cattle in cramped cargo held in groups 2/300 men watched over by a hundred Polish guards. After 50 days of sailing, Saturday, September 12, 1942 at dinner, two torpedoes from the German submarine U-Boot 156 under the command of Lieutenant Werner Hartenstein are caught straight into the belly of Laconia. The outbreak causes instant death of dozens of men, as the ship shakes during an earthquake, the holds collapse on each other and the water starts to come in with a unimaginable fury.
Angelo fell down in the water for hours wandering in search of a foothold but meets only corpses kept afloat by life jackets.
On Sunday the U-Boot 156, realizing that on the ship there were allied soldiers, began rescue operations helping Italian, English and Polish. Angelo now weary and tired will be rescued only in the early afternoon of Monday, after two days of unspeakable struggle for survival.
The madness of the war this time takes the form of an American plane B-24 that, despite the large red cross placed on the submarine to report the rescue operation underway, bombards the same causing other casualties...
The Sinking of the Laconia provoked only among Italians on board approximately 1400 victims, a number almost equal to that of the Titanic. However, this incident did not leave a deep imprint in Italy in the collective historical memory, despite its dramatic.
The goal of the project is the production of a didactic movie, in the form of short documentary of a maximum 40 minutes, directed to an audience mostly youth of secondary schools of 1st and 2nd grade. The story of the sinking of Laconia, little known to most people, embodies all the contradictions, the pain and the horror of war. We have the ambition to believe that disclosure of the facts and the reenactment of the sea of Laconia can do justice to all those young lives cut unnecessarily in what remains the largest Italian naval tragedy of World War II.
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My name is Mario and a lifetime listening to my grandfather Angelo, which tells of the war, the African campaign and especially the shipwreck suffered on transatlantic Laconia that even the Titanic ... and so and 'did the project ItalyAcqua because I would like other people could listen to this story, the story of my grandfather, of his fellow soldiers, of our country.
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