“Remarkable Gallantry” of Lt. Alberto Orlandi


Alberto Orlandi

On this website, there are several posts concerning Italians who served as agents with Allied I.S.9 operations (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force) during the Second World War.

The case of Lieutenant Alberto Orlandi warrants special attention. Below is the description of his background from the I.S.9 files. Following that is a letter of recommendation from U.S. Army Air Force Captain R.W.B. Lewis for an American Bronze Star Medal for the Italian.

An I.S.9 response to the request follows his letter.

And, last of all, is the text of an unsigned memo of recommendation for a British decoration of M.B.E. [Member of the Order of the British Empire] for Lieutenant Orlandi. Although this letter does not bear a date, it does refer to the lieutenant’s service through July 1945 (whereas the Captain Lewis’ letter is dated January 1945.

I do not know if Alberti Orlandi in fact received either of these honors.

My thanks to Brian Sims for sharing this material from the British National Archives.

Alberto Orlandi

Lieutenant, Italian Army

Born November 2, 1919 at Citta della Pieve, Perugia Province

Alberto was educated at Citta della Pieve and Siena. He volunteered for service with the Italian Army in 1937 and served three years with the infantry, during which he was stationed on the French front. In 1940 he volunteered as a parachutist, received a course in parachutist training, and performed eleven drops. He served against the partisans in Croatia, and also in Sicily and Southern Italy during Allied invasion. Late in September 1943 he reported for service to Badoglio’s army.

In October 1943 Alberto volunteered for intelligence service and joined I.S.9 at Bari on December 2, 1943. He was employed by Captain R.W.B. Lewis (No. 5 Field Section, I.S.9) on January 12, 1944. He served in the capacity of an Italian staff officer. As he was attached to I.S.9 from the Italian Army, his pay was from the Italian Army.

He had local knowledge of northeastern Italy and Croatia. He had a fair knowledge of French.

He held a Carta d’Identita for the Comune di Casoli and a recognition card of general staff of the Servizio Informazioni Militari (SIM) Perugia.

He was issued a false identity card for the Comune di Zevio in the name of Renato Marchetti.

Alberto ceased to be employed by I.S.9 on July 5, 1945 as his services were no longer required. He was transferred to the American War Crimes Commission (Investigation) to work with Lieutenant Curtis Pepper.

Recommendation for an American Bronze Star Medal


Ref: 50/1

To: G-2 (P/W), A.F.H.Q.

From: 5 Field Section I.S.9., c/o A.P.O. 549A, U.S. Army.

SUBJECT: Award to Italian Officer

1. It is desired to recommend Lt. Alberto ORLANDI, Italian parachutist officer attached to I.S.9., CMF [Central Mediterranean Force], for the award of the Bronze Star.

2. The correct procedure for initiating such an award is not clear. It is believed, however, that the recommendation should emanate from AFHQ, since I.S.9., CMF, comes under that command. In several cases recently, Italian officers on various duties with the 5th Army have received American decorations: e.g., an Italian Lieutenant attached to CIC, 91st Division.

3. Lt. ORLANDI’s record, so far as I am familiar with it, has been as follows:

He joined 5 Field Section on 12 January 1944, having been sent there from HQ, I.S.9., CMF, after training in the Italian intelligence service, S.I.M. Prior to the armistice, Lt. ORLANDI had been in the infantry and then in the parachutist corps, and had seen service in France, Croatia and Sicily.

Lt. ORLANDI became a staff officer of 5 Field Section and for a considerable time operated a sub-section in the Adriatic sector, a few miles from the front line. His assignment was the dispatching of agents, whom he often accompanied into no-man’s-land, the reception of agents and Allied escapers and evaders whom they brought back, interrogation and collection of evidence. He performed these duties with initiative and considerable skill, displaying a pleasing and most well-balanced personality which made him invaluable as a liaison officer with other Allied commands. He was responsible also for the discipline and well-being of the Italian agents, several of whom had served under him previously as parachutists; this task he carried out exceptionally well. Several hundred Allied escapers and evaders passed through Lt. ORLANDI’s hands, at the subsection he commanded at various points on the 8th Army front: and a considerable number of these owe their return to safety to the care and intelligence with which he organized and mounted the missions.

On at least three occasions, Lt. ORLANDI actually penetrated enemy lines, in the execution of his duties. Once, in February 1944, he took a patrol deep into occupied territory to search for 50 prisoners, who had been dispersed by enemy action while attempting to cross to the Allies. In June, 1944, he crossed the enemy lines above ASSISI with a British Sergeant, and returned after several days with a number of Allied officers, of the Air and Ground forces. Without pausing to rest, he returned to the same post immediately, and evacuated two officers from a partisan-held village which the enemy was in the process of re-occupying. In the last of these, especially, Lt. ORLANDI displayed remarkable gallantry under the most hazardous conditions.

Lt. ORLANDI was transferred to No. 2 Field Section in January, 1945, where he is continuing the same type of service under Lt. Curtis PEPPER, U.S. Signal Corps. We very much regretted losing him. We believe that he has been of outstanding service to the American and British armed forces, and that the example he set to the Italian officers, soldiers and civilians whom he directed was nothing short of inspiring. It is our hope that the American command in Italy will be able to recognise these distinquished services by the award of the Bronze Star.

RWB Lewis

In the Field,
28 Jan. 1945.

Copy to:

Field Headquarters, I.S.9.

HQ I.S.9. c/o ELO, BARI.

No. 2 Field Sec.,
c/o GSI, Canadian Corps (through Field HQ).

Response to the Award Request


I.S.9 (CMF)
c/o E.L.O.

13 February 1945.

To: Field H.Q.

Reference your F.HQ/10/46 of 7 Feb.

1. Subject matter was raised with Lt.Col TANDLER and a copy of Capt. Lewis’ report sent to him.

2. Col. Tandler has replied to the effect that it is not the policy at this time to give American Awards to Italians.

3. Presumably therefore American Awards as quoted by Capt. Lewis must have been extremely special cases.

4. Capt. Lewis’ recommendation for an Award to Lt. ORLANDI will therefore be filed together with others pending a decision by Allied authorities.

Wing Commander.


Recommendation for a British M.B.E. Award

I.S.9. (C.M.F.)

Lieut. ORLANDI Alberto
Di Davide e di Carbonari Rosa
Italian Army.

(a) Viale C. Alberto 18,
(b) Ministry of War (ROME).
S.M.R.E. Ufficio “I”, 1a Sezione.


AGE: 26 years.


The above officer joined I.S.9 as a volunteer in December 1943 and served with this Organization until July 1945.

Lieut. ORLANDI was attached to a Field Section of I.S.9 operating with 8th. Army. He carried out his task of despatching and receiving agents with initiative and considerable skill and his most pleasing and well balanced personality made him an invaluable Liaison Officer with Allied formations.

On at least three occasions Lieut ORLANDI infiltrated into E.O.T. [enemy occupied territory] through the enemy lines, successfully arranging the evacuation of a number of Allied personnel.

During the last of these occasions, Lieut ORLANDI displayed remarkable gallantry under most hazardous conditions.

This officer had always carried out his tasks with cheerfulness and without regard to personal danger and it is recommended that he be awarded the M.B.E. (Military Division).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s