Operation Aprilia


'Aprilia' was an Italian supply convoy operation from southern Italian ports to Tripoli in the Italian North African colony of Libya (13/19 April 1942).

The operation comprised three separate convoys whose high-speed passage across the Mediterranean was shielded from British interference by concentrated air attacks on Malta to prevent the despatch of British air and naval forces. From Naples there sailed two freighters escorted by the destroyers Antonio Pigafetta and Nicolo Zeno together with the torpedo boat Pegaso, from Taranto one freighter escorted by the destroyers Freccia and Turbine, and from Brindisi one freighter escorted by the destroyer Mitragliere and torpedo boat Aretusa.

On 14 April the 7,744-ton German freighter Reichenfels and the three Italian freighters (6,339-ton Vettor Pisani, 6,142-ton Ravello and 6,837-ton Reginaldo Giuliani) passed within 100 miles (160 km) of Malta under escort of the five Italian destroyers and two torpedo boats.

The operation was a notable Italian success as all the ships reached their destination ports safety, and off Djerba Pegaso sank the very successful British submarine Upholder on the boat’s 25th patrol.

Over the same period the 4,768-ton German transport vessel Ankara departed Benghazi, initially under escort of the torpedo boat Orsa and later the destroyer Emanuele Pessagno, to reach Brindisi on 17 April. On this date two freighters left Tripoli under escort of the destroyers Freccia and Mitragliere together with the torpedo boat Pegaso to reach Taranto on 19 April. On the same day the 1,297-ton German freighter Bellona, bound from Brindisi to Benghazi, was intercepted and sunk by the British submarine Torbay.