When Italy entered the Second World War, it had a colony in East Africa - Eritrea. However, the beginning of the Second World cuts it's connection with Italy because of the British who controlled the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar. Being isolated Italians didn’t lose heart and decided to attack British positions. The first target was Port Sudan.
In 1940, 10th July Mecalle - the submarine commanded by Lieutenant John Morone started it's way from the port of Massawa. Clouds hid the stars, which made it difficult to navigate. Besides, the way to Port Sudan was blocked by islands and reefs. Also, the task was complicated because of chloride gas, that was leaking from the air conditioning system. Detect the leak was extremely difficult, because the gas has no odor or color. Methyl chloride gas causes madness or even psychotic behavior.
July 14, the captain discovered that the submarine was off the course at 30 km to the south and the next day July 15, Mecalle crashed into the island of Barra Musa Kebir. A crew of 45 people was able to leave Mecalle before it sank. People were saved, but the SOS signal wasn't sent, and food and water were scarce. So 3 people leaded by navigation officer Elio Sandroni went on a lifeboat for help.
120 miles passed, they landed on the shores of Eritrea and reported the incident. July 22, 1940 submarine Guglielmotti rescued crew members of Mecalle. Only one person died because of the gas poisoning. Elio Sandroni received a Medal for Military Valor.
April 13, 2015 a dedicated team will depart from Port Sudan to the island of Barra Musa Kebir with the aim to investigate the alleged crash site of the submarine. There is no guarantee that the expedition will find something, but if you are energetic, adventurous and not afraid of difficulties, follow the link and sign up to participate in the expedition.
last updated Oct 17, 2014