24th May 1941 – 1,300 troops lost as Conte Rosso sunk

conte rosso neutralityAt the outbreak of WWII, Conte Rosso was initially marked with neutrality signs. Once Italy entered the war, Conte Rosso was requisitioned by the Italian authorities in 1940 for use as a troop transport. On 24th May 1941, while carrying 2,729 troops to Tripoli in a convoy, she was attacked and sunk by two torpedoes from the British submarine HMS Upholder (P37), 15 nautical miles east of Syracuse. At least 1,291 aboard were lost.

conte_rosso_at speedConte Rosso was an Italian passenger liner, built in 1922 by Beardmore’s of Glasgow, along with a sistership, Conte Verde, for Lloyd Sabaudo. Her launch on 26th January 1921 was ominous in that she stuck on the slips and was not actually released for a further two weeks. She was 591 feet long, 18,017grt, and could carry 208 First Class passengers plus 268 in Second and 1,890 in Third Class. Her interiors were extremely lavish, and the sisters were considered some of the finest liners of their day. Designed for the service from Genoa to South America, she even had an outdoor dining area for use in warmer climes.

Conte_Grande1The maiden voyage left Genoa for Buenos Aires on 29th March 1922. Soon after she was placed on the New York service. In January 1932 she was merged into the Italia fleet, along with most Italian liners, but was soon transferred to Lloyd Triestino. She was then operated on the Trieste to Bombay and Shanghai service, and was used by many German and Austrian Jewish émigrés seeking to escape persecution, as they could land at Shanghai without the usual papers needed elsewhere.