Giovanni Nebbia with the football team he organized at his Marine School (Scuola di Avviamento Marinaro). The photo was taken in the year they won a championship. December 3, 1940.
In 2005, at a ceremony in Monte Urano, Italy, to honour Ken de Souza—a former POW and author of Escape from Ascoli, which Annelisa Nebbia translated from English into Italian—Annelisa shared an account of a rescue mission her father experienced that nearly ended in tragedy.
Annelisa’s speech is here translated into English:
“Missions to rescue escaping POWs from the Adriactic coast frequently failed due to the Italian captains’ lack of local knowledge, resulting in their being unable to find the exact point of the coastline where escapers were to be picked up.
“Allied Headquarters in Termoli asked Elio Tremaroli—who worked for them and crossed the lines [into enemy-occupied territory] continuously—if he knew somebody who was truly an expert on the Adriatic coast.
Giovanni Nebbia’s partisan identification card, issued in 1950 by the Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d’Italia, or National Association of the Italian Partisans, acknowledges his involvement with the Banda Gran Sasso from September 25, 1943 to June 20, 1944
Captain Giovanni Nebbia’s activity as an I.S.9 “helper” took place along the Adriatic coast of central Italy, including the port towns of Termoli, Manfredonia, and Vieste.
In 1943 Captain Nebbia spearheaded an operation to save the fishing fleet of San Benedetto del Tronto, which was under threat of seizure by the Germans, who were due for arrival in the town the next morning. On completion of the mission, Radio Bari broadcast news of the successful event, today described in Italian history books as ‘Operazione Nebbia.’”
An account of “Operation Nebbia” in Giovanni Nebbia’s own words, translated into English by Annelisa, is below. The original document in Italian is at the end of this post.
To Major R. E. ITALO POSTIGLIONE
Commander 23rd and 24th Patriot Groups
Having returned home after my departure from San Benedetto del Tronto in the night of 4-5 October 1943, I hasten to give you notice of the mission entrusted to me by you and of subsequent events.
According to the orders that you had given to me, on that date I immediately proceeded with the help of other officers from the groups of patriots to steal the fishing boats/trawlers and minesweepers requisitioned for certain capture by the Germans; such vessels in the port of San Benedetto del Tronto were equipped with local elements, and we launched them for the ports of southern Italy that were already in the hands of the Allies.
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.