Tag: Birindelli

30 October 1940 – today in history…

by on Oct.30, 2017, under Allgemein

1940. The first mission against the Port of Gibraltar (B.G.1) was aborted when it became clear that the British fleet had already left for Operation “Menace”. The transport submersible Scirè under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese was still 50 nautical miles off Gibraltar. Disappointed, the SLC teams returned to their secret base at Bocca di Serchio, where they intensively discussed the feasibility of this type of attack. This happened at the same time when „Operazione G.A.2“ was about to end with the sinking of the transport submersible Gondar.

R_SMG_Scire_Crest_600x600Initial, decisive proof of the feasibility and the successful, secret penetration of enemy ports was achieved by Comandante Borghese and his men in mission B.G.2. Again, three SLCs were dispatched: Teseo Tesei with Alcide Pedretti, Luigi Durand de la Penne with Emilio Bianchi and Gino Birindelli with Damos Paccagnini.

The Scirè came into position at around 1.30 a.m. on 30 October 1940 in order to allow the SLC teams to disembark from the conning tower of the submersible. The Scirè only remained at the surface for a short time so that the three SLC teams could reach the cylindrical pods on the deck of the submersible. The Scirè then retreated back beneath the surface. Under water, the three teams manoeuvred their SLCs out from the pods and started their attack on the Port of Gibraltar. The three teams experienced problems almost as soon as the attack began. While Tesei and his co-pilot Pedretti had problems with their breathing apparatus, Durand de la Penne and his co-pilot Bianchi experienced problems with their electric engine. Both teams decided to abort the attack and sink their SLCs. However, only De la Penne managed to do this. Tesei’s SLC was washed up on the Spanish coast near La Linea and caused quite a stir among both the Spanish authorities and the British secret service. Both teams swam to the Spanish coast and were able to return safely to Italy with the help of the Italian secret service.

BG2_Gibraltar_600x600The fate of the entire operation now lay in the hands of Gino Birindelli and his co-pilot Damos Paccagnini. Unaware of the fact that their comrades-in-arms had already had to terminate their mission, they launched their attack on the Port of Gibraltar. Although mission B.G.2 was in principle a failure because not one enemy ship was sunk, Birindelli and his co-pilot Paccagnini were able to prove for the first time that a “maiale” was able to enter an enemy port unnoticed.

„Operazione B.G.2“ marked the start of a three year war that took place noiselessly and under water in the Bay of Gibraltar. For Gino Birindelli, however, the mission marked the start of a journey through Allied POW camps that would last many months. Read more on mission B.G.2 and the story of Gino Birindelli in our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s in chapter VIII.II on page 1014-1043.

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“The Admiral’s Watch” @ Phillips GWA6

by on Sep.25, 2017, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_hoch_2017_GWA6_209Phillips will feature a very rare Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai” in their Geneva Watch Auction: SIX, which will be held on Sunday, 12 November 2017.

It is one of very few existing Ref. 6152/1 watches with a rotating plexi bezel. Until today we have just four 6152/1 watches in our records that still feature such an additional rotating bezel – and one of them is the watch up for auction. The Rolex movement of the watch with “Luminor Panerai” dial is a typical Cal. 618 / Type 4 version with incabloc shock protection and 17 jewels. The watch came from the descendants of Admiral Gino Birindelli (1911 – 2008) and was auctioned for the first time only a few years ago at Sotheby’s in May 2014.

Further info on this watch (lot 209) can be found here.

heritage_696_birindelliWhat makes this watch special for us:
During the 2nd world war, Birindelli was a SLC pilot in the very early missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto against Alexandria (G.A.1) and Gibraltar (B.G.1 and B.G.2) in 1940. He was in fact the first SLC pilot who entered an enemy harbor with his device in the night of 30 October 1940, for which he was awarded with the gold medal for galantry at war (M.O.V.M.). Birindelli survived being a prisoner of war from October 1940 to March 1944. After the 2nd world war his career in the Italian Navy continued and became quite unique. Birindelli was commander of the Incursori (COMSUBIN) from 26 September 1948 to 30 April 1950, once again from 1 May 1954 to 5 June 1956. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1959, headed the I Divisione Navale as well as the fleet command (Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale). Gino Birindelli headed the Allied naval forces in southern Europe before he retired in December 1973 in the rank of Ammiraglio di Squadra. Read more on Admiral Gino Birindelli here.

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The watch of Admiral Gino Birindelli and the unique story behind his career can be read in our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (chapter VIII.II, page 1006 to 1043).

We hope that this remarkable watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of www.phillips.com]

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21 August 1940 – today in history…

by on Aug.21, 2017, under Allgemein

R_Somm_Iride_600x600Gulf of Bomba (Lybia). In August 1940, the time had finally come to put the new SLC weapon to the test. Alexandria in the eastern Mediterranean was the main base of the British Mediterranean fleet. The battleships at anchor there were the first targets for missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto involving the SLCs.

The transport submersible Iride, under the command of Tenente di Vascello Francesco Brunetti, prepared for its tour of duty with the SLCs on 21 August 1940, ready to attack the Port of Alexandria in the night of 25/26 August 1940. Eleven servicemen with four SLCs aboard the torpedo boat Calipso were dispatched to the Gulf of Bomba on the Libyan coast. There, the SLCs were tested at held ready for departure until they were ready to launch mission G.A.1 a few days later with the submersible Iride.

GA1_Iride_Bomba_Bay2_600x600Right at the start of its test run, however, the submersible Iride was spotted by three Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers, which had launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. The enemy bombers began their attack straight away (see historic map on the left).

The shallow water in the Gulf of Bomba prevented the Iride from descending quickly. Instead, it attempted to ward off the attack at full speed with its anti-aircraft cannons. At the same time, Brunetti tried in vain to direct the bow of the submersible towards the attackers in order to reduce the area of the Iride exposed to attack. However, the Iride was soon hit by a torpedo and sank. The boats quickly dispatched to the scene managed to rescue some of the shipwrecked crew members from the Iride. A dramatic race against time began.

GA1_Iride_Birindelli_600x600 The SLC teams under Gino Birindelli (right in the photo), Teseo Tesei, Elios Toschi, Luigi Durand de la Penne and Emilio Bianchi dived straight down to the wreck of the Iride in order to save the survivors who were trapped down there. Although the equipment belonging to the SLC pilots on board the Iride was lost, but the three SLCs were recovered for use in later missions. The SLCs pilots returned to the Bocca di Serchio on board the Calipso.

During the rescue of the survivors from the Iride, they had pushed themselves to the very limit of what was humanly possible. Loss of human life and equipment was the sobering result of the first mission „Operazione G.A.1“ with the new weapon of the Mezzi d’Assalto.

Read more on Gino Birindelli, one of the surviving SLC teams, in chapter VIII.II on page 1014-1043 or click also here. 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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Naval Heritage – The SLC pilot who later became Commander of South Europe’s Naval Forces

by on Dec.31, 2016, under Allgemein

heritage_696_birindelliHe survived the air raid against the transport submarine Iride in August 1940 – the mission G.A.1 against Alexandria failed. He took part on the mission B.G.1 against allied ships in Gibraltar aboard the transport submarine Scirè in September 1940 – but his second mission failed again as the allied ships left the night before for Operation “Menace” – this time the Decima MAS was late…

Another four weeks later, on 30 October 1940, he became the first SLC pilot to penetrate a heavily guarded enemy harbour with the new, secret weapon which still had to achive its initial and decisive proof of feasibility: the concept of attacking enemy ships in ports. Unnoticed, in the darkness of the night. Mission B.G.2, even without the success of damaging or sinking an enemy ship, marked the start of a three-year war that took place noiselessly underwater in the Bay of Gibraltar. However, for Gino Birindelli, mission B.G.2 marked the start of a journey through Allied POW camps that would last until early 1944.

In his memoirs Gino Birindelli M.O.V.M. wrote a remarkable sentence: “I could clearly see my left wrist with the big Radiomir watch we used during the action and I saw how the hand moved, time was passing…” In his personal story this was just a very little side note, but it underlined clearly the importance of the waterproof, luminous and reliable Panerai watch he and the men of the Mezzi d’Assalto of the Royal Italian Navy were trusting during their action.

Page 1018 – 1019: The inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, together with the first crews which instigated the legendary “Spirito del Serchio” at their secret base at Bocca di Serchio in June 1940 – Gino Birindelli was one of them.

heritage_1392_birindelli_1018-1019

Page 1026 – 1027: The progress of Mission B.G.2 against the port of Gibraltar in the night from 29 to 30 October 1940. The transport submarine Scirè, commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese, penetrated the Bay of Gibraltar, from where the three SLC teams started their approach.

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Page 1012 – 1013: A view inside Birindelli’s Ref. 6152/1 with crown-protecting device and Rolex movement. The watch was auctioned at Sotheby’s in May 2014.

heritage_1392_birindelli_1012-1013

In his function as a two-time commander of the “Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori Teseo Tesei” special unit, Gino Birindelli was one of the men who passed on his experiences to the next generation of the naval special unit. When selecting the instruments for the COMSUBIN incursori, watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio were the first choice, even after the Second World War. The fact that Birindelli still possessed a Panerai watch from the era even years after his commando activities whit the COMSUBIN shows the significance and symbolism of a Panerai watch, which must surely have been a sign of military tradition, a menento and a sign of appreciation.

The watch of Admiral Gino Birindelli (1911 – 2008) and the unique story behind his career being Comandante 1a Divisione Navale, Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale and Comandante Nave Alleato del Sud Europa can be read in the book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (chapter VIII.II, page 1006 to 1043). Read more on Gino Birindelli also here. Enjoy reading!

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The Admiral’s Watch

by on Apr.09, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2765_600x600Lets face it: Vintage Panerai watches can be considered “rare” among thousands of vintage timekeepers from many different brands. Our new book “The References” features a “Luminor Panerai” watch which deserves the attribute “exceptional”: Admiral Gino Birindelli’s Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai”. Less than 90 watches of the Reference 6152/1 with Rolex movements are recorded in our database today, around 2/3 of them have a Panerai crown-protecting device.

What makes a rare Vintage Panerai watch an exceptional Vintage Panerai watch? For us, its the summary of interesting details of the watch and the historical background of the previous owner. In this case, its a very famous owner: Gino Birindelli M.O.V.M. (1911-2008) was in fact the first SLC pilot who entered an enemy harbor with his device in the night of 30 October 1940. At a time when the secret weapon of the Royal Italian Navy had to deliver its ultimate proof to be successful. At a time when months of intensive training under the highest level of secrecy was about to turn the “Spirito del Serchio” from a military secret into a legend. At a time when two transport submarines and their crews were already lost before an attack was even carried out… not an easy task at all. But Birindelli made it.

IMG_2769_600x600Chapter II.I (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) features a chronological line-up of the missions carried out by the Decima MAS until 8 September 1943, in which the mission B.G.2 against Gibraltar is listed. Birindelli survived being a prisoner of war from October 1940 to March 1944 (first sent from Gibraltar at the end of 1940 to a camp near London – almost 3 months isolated – followed by camps in Edinburgh, Tennessee, Casablanca, Algiers and finally back to Taranto in Italy.

After this torture with a lucky end, his career in the Italian Navy continued. Birindelli was commander of the Incursori (COMSUBIN) from 26 September 1948 to 30 April 1950, once again from 1 May 1954 to 5 June 1956. What better officer could lead these special units than one of the famous SLC pilots who invented the secreat weapon years ago? Gino Birindelli circumnavigated the globe between 1 September 1956 and 1 March 1957, stopped at 34 ports on four continents and covered a distance of 33.170 nautical miles. Birindelli was promoted to rear admiral in 1959, headed the I Divisione Navale as well as the fleet command (Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale) Gino Birindelli headed the Allied naval forces in southern Europe before he retired in December 1973 in the rank of Ammiraglio di Squadra.

IMG_2768_600x600Chapter VIII.II (second volume / 1950’s-1960’s) features Gino Birindelli’s 6152/1 watch with crown-protecting device, Rolex movement, “Luminor Panerai” dial and extremely rare rotating bezel, of which only a few are known to exist today. Thanks to the support of Sotheby’s Geneva by the provided photos for our book, the details of this watch are shown on page 1006-1013, followed by the impressive story of its famous owner on page 1014-1043.

Enjoy reading the history behind a truly “exceptional” Vintage Panerai watch in chapter VIII.II of “The References”.

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From G.A.1 to B.G.7: Missions of the Decima MAS

by on Mar.20, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2482_600x600Watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio are deeply connected to the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the Second World War. In our new 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”).

Chapter 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.

IMG_2337_600x600Chapter 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. The documentation of the watch 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. The documentation of the watch and the history of Luigi Ferraro can be read from page 190 to 225 in chapter II.II.

IMG_2522_600x600A 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 (see coffee table shot on the left). Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942… The documentation of the watch 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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Admiral Birindelli’s 6152/1 @ Sotheby’s

by on Apr.25, 2014, under Watch Point

Another auction highlight in may will be a Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai” watch: Sotheby’s Important Watches in Geneva presents the watch of a famous owner on may 14th, 2014 (LOT 298).

Features of the watch:
Reference: 6152/1
Dial: “Luminor Panerai” (sandwich, engraved)
Case number: 1249XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 4

The watch comes from the descendants of Admiral Gino Birindelli (1911 – 2008). It is one of very few existing Ref. 6152/1 watches with rotating plexi bezel. The movement of the watch is corresponding with our database, being a typical Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 4 version with incabloc shock protection and 17 jewels.

During the 2nd world war, Gino Birindelli was a pilot in the early SLC missions G.A.1 (August 1940 against Alexandra, transported by the submarine Iride), B.G.1 and B.G.2 (October 1940) in which he and his well known comrads (Damos Paccagnini, Teseo Tesei, Luigi Durant De La Penne, Alcide Pedretti, Emilio Bianchi / Gastone Bertozzi, Giuseppe Viglioli) were transported by the submarine Scirè under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese against targets in the harbour of Gibraltar. Birindelli and his co-pilot Paccagnini were captured and became POW. After his release from POW he was awarded with the gold medal for galantry at war (M.O.V.M.) in 1943 for his achievement during the mission B.G.2 in Gibraltar, 1940.

After the 2nd world war, Birindelli was commander of the Com.Sub.In. (Comando Subacquei ed Incursori) special forces in Varignano near La Spezia from 1948 to 1950 and from 1954 to 1956. Later he became commander of NATO forces of the Mediterranean in the early 1970s, followed by a political career in the italian parliament.

We hope the watch will find a good new home and that it remain surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photo of the Ref. 6152/1 watch with kindly permission / courtesy of www.sothebys.com]

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