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Captain L.C. Giovanni Nebbia

Over the past several months, I have exchanged a number of e-mails with Annelisa Nebbia, whose father, Captain L.C. Giovanni Nebbia, was involved in the Adriatic coast rescue of Allied POWs during the war.

Annelisa explained, “My father was a sea-captain and his missions were mainly sea missions. His movements as a “helper” took place in the province of Ascoli Piceno and in Southern Italy, precisely in the area including the towns of Termoli, Manfredonia, and Vieste situated along that coast.

“According to his personal diary, I know that he came into contact with the Eighth Army stationed in Italy. In particular, on 5th October 1943 under the command of an American officer of the A.M.G.O.T. [Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories] my father took the fishing-fleet of my town to the Tremiti Islands, because it certainly would have been seized by the Germans who were due to arrive the next morning at 7 a.m. He told the fishermen and owners of the trawlers to bring as much food as they could, as nobody knew how long they would have to stay there. The food would help to ensure their survival.

“He pretended to sail towards Yugoslavia but in the middle of the Adriatic Sea he changed his track heading for Manfredonia, already freed by the Allies. When he arrived there, Radio Bari broadcast the successful event. The operation is mentioned in Italian history books as Operazione Nebbia.

“Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Termoli, American Army Captain Lewis, knowing that my father was an expert on the Adriatic Coast, sent for him and entrusted him with rescue missions. [Captain R. B. Lewis, U.S. Army Air Force, was an officer involved in the I.S.9 rescue effort.]

“His task was to sail up to the central coast and rescue POWs on night rendezvouses in an area occupied by the Germans. For one of those missions, on 31st December 1943, he used a motor fishing vessel called Saturnia requisitioned from a family of my town for war purposes. A Greek Army Captain and four English sailors were taken aboard.”

Rescue activities of the Saturnia is mentioned in “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2” on this site.

Historic Plaque at the Harbor of San Benedetto del Tronto

A plaque in the harbor of San Benedetto del Tronto describes Operation Nebbia.

Giovanni Nebbia was a member of the 23rd and 24th armed partisan groups. On the day before Germans were to arrive at San Benedetto del Tronto, Captain Nebbia oversaw the transport of 20 motorized fishing trawlers from the harbor to Allied Headquarters in Termoli. If he had not taken this immediate action, the boats would have been confiscated by the Germans.

Annelisa said, “Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa had given my father a written order for this mission after a meeting in the Marine School (called Scuola di Avviamento Marinaro) that my father had founded with some friends and where he worked as a Biology teacher and school Secretary. He offered the school premises for secret meetings. The people participating in the meeting when they decided to “empty” the harbour were: Dalla Chiesa, Italo Postiglione, Dr. Salvi, Professor Augusto Capriotti (later University Professor in Sardinia), and second lieutenant Colagiacomi.”

Here is the text of the plaque in Italian, followed by an English translation:

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LA NOTTE TRA 4 ED IL 5 OTTOBRE 1943, LA FLOTTIGLIA MOTOPESCHERECCIA LOCALE PRESE IL LARGO, DA QUESTO MOLO, PER EVITARE LA CATTURA DA PARTE DEI TEDESCHI. AL COMANDO DEL CAPITANO L. C. GIOVANNI NEBBIA, NONOSTANTE I RISCHI DELLA GUERRA, LE UNITÀ RAGGIUNSERO I PORTI LIBERATI DAGLI ANGLO AMERICANI. IL GIORNO SUCCESSIVO, RADIO “ITALIA LIBERA” TRASMISE DA BARI IL SEGUENTE MESSAGGIO: “OPERAZIONE NEBBIA GIUNTA A BUON FINE”.

LA CITTÀ E L’A.N.P.I. A RICORDO POSERO IL 05-10-2002

In translation, the plaque reads:

“ON THE NIGHT BETWEEN THE 4TH AND 5TH OF OCTOBER 1943, A LOCAL FLEET OF FISHING BOATS WAS TAKEN FROM THIS WHARF TO PREVENT CAPTURE BY THE GERMANS. UNDER THE COMMAND OF CAPTAIN L. C. GIOVANNI NEBBIA, DESPITE WARTIME DANGER, THE GROUP REACHED PORTS LIBERATED BY THE ALLIES. THE NEXT DAY, RADIO ‘FREE ITALY’ TRANSMITTED FROM BARI THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE: ‘OPERATION NEBBIA HAS REACHED A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION’.

“THIS MARKER WAS INSTALLED BY THE CITY AND THE A.N.P.I. [Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d’Italia, or the national association of the Italian Partisans] ON OCTOBER 5, 2002″

I asked Annelisa to explain the L.C. that precedes her father’s name on the plaque.

“Capitano di L.C. (Lungo Corso),” she said, “is a more important title than simply ‘Sea Captain,’ the difference being that a ‘Capitano di Lungo Corso’ sails for very long distances and goes back home only once or twice a year.”

Acknowledgements of Valorous Service

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In 1960, Annelisa’s mother sent a note to Major Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, then serving with the Carabinieri in Milan. As a lieutenant during the war, Major Della Chiesa had had close contact with the family.

Maria Nebbia knew that many men who had done little during the war had asked for and obtained the title of “Partisan” for services they couldn’t have done—in some cases because they were only 10 or 11. The title was a key to many jobs and privileges, and these people were able to secure good positions only through recommendations.

She therefore asked Major Dalla Chiesa to attest to what her husband had done during the war, risking his own life for the cause.

In August, the major responded:

Milano, 12 agosto 1960

LEGIONE TERRITORIALE CARABINIERI
MILANO
L’aiutante maggiore in 1°

Gent.ma Sig.ra Nebbia,

ho ricevuto la Sua e sono stato lietissimo di sapere che Lei e l’ottimo Suo marito si ricordano ancora di me.

Così come sono molto lieto che le circostanze mi diano la possibilità di ricambiare la lealtà, la devozione, la collaborazione allora offertami dal bravo ed indimenticabile Nebbia.

Non appena sarò interpellato, non dubiti, dirò la verità ed una verità onesta.

Mi saluti tanto caramente Suo marito e Lei si abbia molte vive cordialità.

– Magg. C. Dalla Chiesa

N.D.
Sig.ra Maria Bernardi in Nebbia
– Via Piemonte n. 55 –
S. BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO

In translation:

Milan, August 12, 1960

LEGION REGIONAL CARABINIERI
MILAN, August 12, 1960
The adjutant in 1st (?)

Dear Signora Nebbia,

I received your letter and I was delighted to know that you and your good husband still think of me.

Also, I am very pleased that circumstances give me the opportunity to reciprocate the loyalty, devotion, and comradeship that had been shown to me by the good and unforgettable Nebbia.

As soon as I am asked, I will tell the truth, very honestly.

My most cordial greetings to your fine husband, and may your lives be happy.

– Maj. C. Dalla Chiesa

N.D. [This salutation refers to Nobildonna, or noblewoman, as Maria Bernardi Nebbia was from a noble family of Ancona.]
Mrs. Maria Bernardi Nebbia
Via Piemonte. 55
San Benedetto del Tronto

Here is Major Dalla Chiesa’s full acknowledgement of Captain Nebbia’s service:

I the undersigned, Captain of Carabinieri Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, declare as follows:

After 8th September 1943 Ensign Giovanni NEBBIA, from San Benedetto del Tronto, took an active part in the organization of bands of patriots which were being formed in order to resist the Nazi-Fascists and for the protection of property and people.

Several times he came to my office at the police station of San Benedetto del Tronto to agree upon the best course of action to be taken in those situations, and one day he pointed out that he had a band made up of 30 young men sufficiently armed at his command. I took note of this communication and gave him the task to act, should the case occur, in the area between the upper old town of San Benedetto and the countryside towards Acquaviva Picena.

The weapons were kept hidden in certain caves along the road leading to the latter location. I learned that one night Giovanni Nebbia together with Customs Lieutenant Gian Maria Paolini took away some weapons and a machine gun from some fishing boats anchored in the harbor of San Benedetto and that they were temporarily deposited at the Customs local barracks.

On the evening of 3rd October, candidate ensign Giovanni Nebbia, Augusto Capriotti, lieutenant Colagiacomi, and I departed from San Benedetto on our bicycles to gather at Captain Salvi’s in Grottammare.

There we found Major Postiglione, who gave each of us a task, after having done an inventory of the weapons and force of which each of us could have at our disposal. We thus started to be a part of the Postiglione Band.

On the following night and precisely on 4th October 1943, during a meeting at the “Scuola di Avviamento Marinaro”, the premises of which G. Nebbia had put at our disposal being its Secretary and a teacher of Marine Biology, I pointed out that a communication had come according to which, on the following day the Germans would come down from Ancona in order to catch all the fishing boats in the harbor. We decided to leave immediately and Nebbia and I managed to alert the crews and the owners of the fishing boats about the immediate departure.

Ensign Nebbia was entrusted the task of heading to the southern ports which were in the hands of the Allied Forces, and of taking there to safety as many vessels as he could.

On that same night fifteen boats were put to sea and reached happily the towns of Manfredonia, Vieste, and the Tremiti Islands.

I saw Giovanni Nebbia again at Termoli on 14th December 1943 and he was still in charge of of the fishing boat “SATURNIA” where he worked for the Allied Forces.

Sincerely,
Captain Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa

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And here is a statement of recognition from Major Italo Postiglione:

COMANDO GRUPPO BANDE ARMATE “POSTIGLIONE” – (23ˆ – 24ˆ)
RAGGRUPPAMENTO GRAN-SASSO

Si certifica che il Guardiamarina di Compl. NEBBIA Giovanni, fece parte di questo Gruppo Bande Armate fin dal 25 Settembre 1943.

Egli venne inviato dal sottoscritto in porti italiani già liberati, il Ottobre 2 1943, al comando di una flottiglia di circa 20 grandi motopescherecci sottratti all’esercito tedesco soltanto poche ore prima che questo ne effettuasse la già predisposta cattura nel porto di S. Benedetto del Tonto.

Grottammare li 3 Agosto 1944.

IL COMANDANTE DEL GRUPPO BANDE ARMATE (23ˆ – 24ˆ)
(Maggiore Italo Postiglione)

In translation:

ARMED COMMAND GROUP “POSTIGLIONE” – (No. 23 and No. 24)
GRAN-SASSO GROUP

[Annelisa explained that armed patriot groups had a name and a number. There were two groups under Major Postiglione. They took their names from the Gran Sasso mountain of the Abruzzo. When eventually new armed groups were created, northwards, the numbers increased.]

This is to certify that Ensign Complement Nebbia Giovanni, was part of this Armed Group since September 25, 1943.

On the 5th of October 1943, he was sent by the undersigned toward the Italian ports that had already been liberated, in the command of a flotilla of about 20 big trawlers which the German had failed to capture only some hours before their arrival thus avoiding the capture of the entire flotilla which they had planned to steal from the harbor of San Benedetto del Tronto.

Grottammare, August 3, 1944

THE COMMANDER OF THE ARMED GROUP BAND (23-24)
(Major Italo Postiglione)

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“This photo was taken at the harbour with a class of marinaretti (young sailors)” Annelisa wrote. “My father in his Captain uniform is next to a very good teacher of the school dressed in civilian clothes on top of the group in the picture.”

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This aerial photo of the Italian Adriatic coastline, taken by Annelisa, shows the estuary of the River Tenna at Porto San Giorgio, 35 kilometers north of San Benedetto del Tronto.

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