Sergente Adriano Vezzi
|Medaglia d’argento al valor militare
|Medaglia di bronzo al valor militare
Adriano Vezzi was from Trieste.
In October 1941, Sergente Vezzi served in the 155a Squadriglia of the 3o Gruppo in North Africa. This unit was still equipped with Fiat CR.42s.
At 14:04 on 11 October, six Blenheim IVs from 107 Squadron attacked shipping in the Gulf of Sirte, which included a tanker, the cargo vessel Priaruggia, and two destroyers. Priaruggia was left in flames, but Flying Officer Greenhill’s Blenheim (Z9663) was seen to be hit in the belly and crashed into the sea. Bombs from Sergeant Routh’s Blenheim (Z7618) were observed to strike a corvette, which also burst into flames, but this bomber too then also went down. The loss of Greenhill’s aircraft seems to have been almost bizarre. When the attack took place an S.81 of 103a Squadriglia was on patrol, flown by the unit commander, Capitano Antonio Rinaldo. One gunner in this aircraft apparently obtained the hits that brought the British bomber down. The Italians reported that a Canadian NCO who was picked up from the sea, confirmed that this was so. This must have been Sergeant C. A. Whidden, who although rescued, was to die from his injuries on 4 November. The rest of the crew had lost their lives immediately. Routh’s aircraft does appear to have been claimed by naval AA gunners.
However, although not reported by the returning crews, one of the missing bombers may have been shot down by Sergente Vezzi, who claimed one Blenheim near the Tunisian coast. He then force-landed near Novelmour Castle in Tunisia, without damaging his aircraft. He returned to his unit on 15 October.
At 08:30 on 8 January 1942, 19 CR.42s of the 3o Gruppo, led by Tenente Colonnello Innocenzo Monti, took off from Ara Fileni to bomb and strafe the airstrip of Agedabia. Twelve MC.200s of the 150o Gruppo, led by Maggiore Antonio Vizzotto, which had taken off at 08:30 from El Merduma, were their direct cover. Finally, eight MC.202s of the 88a Squadriglia (6o Gruppo) took off from Ara Fileni at 08:30 led by Capitano Dante Ocarso, to indirectly escort the whole formation.
The CR.42s reached the target at 09:00, flying at 1,000m in groups of three aircraft in echelon right; at the same height were the Macchi MC.200s, (flying in echelon right too) while the MC.202s were at 3,000m. While the Fiats were starting their dives, a formation of twelve P-40s was discovered. They immediately attacked the Falcos and one of the Curtiss was claimed shot down by Sergente Vezzi of the 155a Squadriglia, who’s aircraft in turn was damaged. The Fiats of the 3o Gruppo were able to complete the attack even if they didn’t claim to have inflicted heavy damage; a Bristol Blenheim destroyed and a couple of trucks left in flames with the use of 24 50kg bombs, 1335 rounds of 7,7 ammunition and 2846 rounds of 12,7 ammunition.
The 150o Gruppo recorded a clash with 25 P-40s losing two MC.200s and one damaged while claiming two P-40s and two damaged with the use of 2050 rounds of ammunition. The two destroyed P-40s were shared between Maggiore Vizzotto, Tenente Enea Atti (363a Squadriglia), Capitano Domenico Bevilacqua (CO 365a Squadriglia) and Sottotenente Fausto Filippi (365a Squadriglia). The pilots of the lost MC.200s (MM6668 and MM5342), one of them wounded, parachuted and were able to regain the Italian lines on foot two, returning to their unit two days later.
The MC.202s reached the target at 08:55, in vics of three disposed in echelon right, at the height of ,3000 m. recording an intense AA reaction. Then they intercepted four or five P-40s that were attacking the CR.42s and forced them to flee. One of the P-40s was claimed shot down and a second probably so with the use of 1060 rounds of ammunition. The claims were shared among the eight pilots (Capitano Ocarso, Tenente Raffaele Giannuzzi Savelli, Sottotenente Alfredo Civetta, Sottotenente Roberto Sparapani, Sottotenente Roberto Sgorbati, Maresciallo GianLino Baschirotto, Sergente Maggiore Anano Barreo and Sergente Luigi Bartesaghi). The MC.202s landed back at base at 09:50.
Their opponents were ten Kittyhawks of 3 RAAF Squadron, which had taken off at 08:20 for an offensive sweep between Agedabia and El Agheila. They reported that they met 20 MC.200s, 15 CR.42s and G.50s and 8 Bf 109s (clearly the MC.202s), flying at 5000 feet. They started in pursuit and claimed seven shot down, five probables and three damaged. The claimants were Flight Lieutenant Edward Jackson (AK650) who claimed one MC.200 and three MC.200s damaged, Sergeant Ronald Simes (AK610) who claimed one CR.42 and two MC.200s, Sergeant Reginald Pfeiffer (AK619) who claimed two MC.200s, Flying Officer Jones (AK698) who claimed one Bf 109E and one Bf 109F as probables, Flying Officer H. H. Schaeffer (AK645) who claimed one CR.42 and one probable MC.200 and finally Flying Officer Richard Hart (AK617) who claimed one CR.42 and one Bf 109 E as probables. They lost Kittyhawk AK656 of Flying Officer Alan Baster (RAAF no. 400035), who was killed. The Australians all had landed again at 10:25
It seems likely that the Folgores attacked only part of the Australian formation while the others fought against the Macchi MC.200s and the CR.42s.
At the end, even if the escort wasn’t able to avoid the attack on the Fiats, it permitted them to come back without losses after completing their mission but it is necessary to note that the eight MC.202 were engaged by only four or five P-40s. The Australian pilots, back at base noted that the MC.200s were able to out-turn their Kittyhawks, which were less manoeuvrable than their predecessors were.
It is not possible to state who shot down Baster even if from the very detailed report submitted by Vezzi once back at base it seems that he was the responsible.
Vezzi ended the war with 2 biplane victories.
|off Tunisian coast
Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 destroyed.
(a) Possibly claimed in combat with Blenheim IVs from 107 Squadron, which lost two aircraft.
(b) Claimed in combat with P-40s from 3 RAAF Squadron, which claimed 7, 5 probables and 3 damaged while losing 1 P-40. The Regia Aeronautica claimed 4, 1 probable and 2 damaged while losing 2 MC.200s and 1 damaged CR.42.
Aces High - Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, 1994 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-898697-00-0
A History of the Mediterranean Air War 1940-1945: Volume One – Christopher Shores and Giovanni Massimello with Russell Guest, 2012 Grub Street, London, ISBN 978-1908117076
Elenco Nominativo dei Militari dell' A. M. Decorati al V. M. Durante it Periodo 1929 - 1945 2 Volume M - Z
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
Additional information kindly provided by Michele Palermo and Ludovico Slongo.