Custom-hand made map case / memorial tribute, illustrating the location of Italian Submarines during the period between 1940 and 1943.
The object was likely prepared to honor and commemorate the life of a sailor who served on an Italian submarine. The flag at the top of the case is the Italian Naval Ensign, prior to 1946. Below is an emblem which most likely included a photograph of sailor being honored by this object The two gold metallic objects are laurel wreaths placed there most likely to honor the memory of the sailor in the missing photo.
Preliminary research suggests that Arnaldo Pascucci was a calligrapher and an artist who made custom objects for his clientele and that he was active in the 1950s and perhaps earlier. One of his works is kept in the archive of a church in Civitavecchia.
Given the details listed in the map key and external evidence, we suspect the work may have been completed at about the same time as Italy's involvement in World War II came to and end in late 1943. The language used in the text speaks with a grandeur that suggests that the Italian forces had not yet capitulated, or perhaps that the life of the honoree had been given in noble service of Italy. The last date mentioned, September 9, 1943, would be one day after Italy capitulated to the allies. Interestingly, this is also the date that Italian Navy sank two German submarine chasers and five other ships off Bastia near Corsica.
At the outset of World War II, Italy had the largest fleet of submarines in the world, beginning the war with 116, of which 88 were lost during the war.
The map provides a fascinating three dimensional model which locates 28 points around the globe, keyed to explanations on the inside top panel of the case. Of the 28 points named, 22 are geographical locations and 6 seem to identify strategic movements of Italian submarines between 1941 and 1943. These include:
- Action west the British Isles by the Italian Submarines in the Spring of 1941. Extremely difficult and hostile area.
- To the west of Gibraltar, in the areas between the Azores, the Canaries, and the Freetown Sea, the attacks on convoys were uninterrupted (Spring - Summer 1941). On the African coast, many and sensational enterprises. This area was heavily travelled, especially between 1941 and 1942, while the attack on America was being prepared.
- Attack on America. Numerous, fast, actions, in the Caribbean (winter and spring 1942)
- In the spring of 1942, the war began brilliantly along the coast of South America. It continued, with alternating events, until September 9. 1943.
- South Africa and Indian Ocean. These were areas intimately linked to the epic exploits of the "Da Vinci" submarine, while the conclusion of our war in the ocean was looming.
- The transport of materials, for the very distant Singapore, was carried out by the submarine "Cappellini," in conditions of extreme and risky difficulty, due to overloads, which degenerated a notable docking of the submarine. The long navigation, a record never beaten by others. underwater units.
Among the details shown in this map case, there is a reference to the Submarine Leonardo Da Vinci. The Da Vinci was the centerpiece of an Italian naval plan to attack New York Harbor devised in 1942, but never executed. The details also reference the Cappellini, which first served as an attack vessel in the Atlantic, but was later converted to ferry strategic materials to the Japanese forces. Notably, on May 11, 1943, Cappellini sailed to Singapore, arriving July 13, 1943 with 160 tons of mercury, aluminum, welding steel, 20mm guns, ammunition, bomb prototypes, bombsights and tank blueprints. After Italy's surrender in 1943, the vessel was seized by the Japanese and used first by the Germans and later Japanese during the remainder of the war.
The references above include references to the Battle of the Caribbean (#3 above), a joint German-Italian operations referred to as Operation Neuland, in 1942-43. Five Italian submarines patrolled the eastern Lesser Antilles as part of Operation Neuland, including Morosini, Enrico Tazzoli, Giuseppe Finzi, Leonardo da Vinci and Luigi Torelli, during which time they attacked and sank a number of allied vessels.
The present item would seem to be a unique tribute to a fallen Italian sailor. We found no other similar map related objects.