Service and sinking of the Rossarol

The Cesare Rossarol began service in November 1915, patrolling the lower part of the Adriatic, and later joining her sister ships to form the Second Group of the Fourth Division. Together they patrolled the upper Adriatic until June 1917. From June 1917 she was ordered to be transferred to Brindisi and incorporated into the Fourth Group of the Fourth Division. She took part in several battle operations and was send out for several tasks. The Cesare Rossarol was equiped for laying minefields, to fight against small ships and aircrafts and to scout and escort battleships during World War I.

Due to their light displacements the Alessandro Poerio and Guglielmo Pepe, were re-rated as destroyers in 1921. They served the Italian Navy until 1938 when the ships where handed over to the Spanish Nationalists. The Cesare Rossarol was not blessed to overcome the same.


At the end of the war the Cesare Rossarol was off the coast of Austria-Hungary, outside the empire's main naval harbour and arsenal at Pula. She had been assigned to serve as an anti-submarine patrol ship after giving support to the landing and occupation of the city.

World War 1 had officially ended after the Armistice on the 4th of November 1918. Allthough everybody was aware of the extensive minefields which where put into the sea by the Autro-Hungarian army, no real attempts were made to communicate the positions of the many minefields in the area. This lack of action on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's naval command already caused a number of ships to sink hitting mines without being in wartime.

Catastrofic route of the Cesare Rossarol 

November 1918 Lieutenant Ludovico De Filippi, captain of the Cesare Rossarol, received orders to escort a Serbian officer to Fiume. The intention of this order was to convince the Serb-Croatian irregular troops not to oppose to the Italian occupation of the city. Just before noon, around 11:40hr on November 16th, she moved down from Pula to Cape Kamenjak. The moment the Cesare Rossarol moved around Cape Kamenjak it set it’s compass towards Fiume Harbour. Without  realizing how close it sailed to an extensive minefield it came too close causing a mine to explode. The Rossarol hit a mine to the opposite of Ližnjan around 12:40hr. Less than one week after the ceasefire declared by Germany on Armistice Day this mine caused the Cesare Rossarol to sink.


This is how it could have looked like when the Rossarol hit a mine.

The mine touched and exploded just behind of the bridge of the ship. It is believed that the ships portside activated the mine on the west edge of the minefield. The force of the explosion almost instantly tore the ship in two parts. The bow quickly sank vertically, while the severely damaged 30-meter long stern drifted for another few hundred meters before sinking. The impact of the explosion also destroyed the middle section of the ship.

Eighteen other nearby ships  arrived at the site to help the crew of the Rossarol, but most of the crew where trapped inside the hull and went down with the ship.

The sinking of the Cesare Rossarol, just over one nautical mile off the coast of Ližnjan, left ninety-three petty officers and marines dead, including seven officers and the captain. It is written as one of the largest losses of life for the Italian navy during the war. Only about thirty crew members survived the tragedy, most of them where picked out of the water by local fisherman and the rescue ships.


To remeber this tragedy a monument was built on the coast of Ližnjan, close to the site of the sunken vessel. The monument is built with one of the anchors of the Rossarol, and a bronze memorial plate remembers us the names of those who did not survice this eventMonument.

Stato maggiore

De Filippi Ludovico – comandante, capitanodi vascello

Ludovico Scaccia Alberti, ufficiale in 2.a, tenente di vascello

Carlandrea Ciconetti,tenente di vascello;

Felice Riggi, cap.macc.

Alfredo Burgese, ten. macc.

Raffaele De Campos, s. ten. macc.

Arnaldo Lazzarini, guardia marina.

Sottuffi ciali

Antonio Milano, Antonio Tozzi, Enrico Borghi, Luigi Chiavicati, Giuseppe Cirillo, Attilio Molagoli, Aldo Sesler, Raffaele Rosa, Luigi Campagnano, Rosolino Caruso, Giuseppe Briguglia, Domenico Carolci


Fronteddu Salvatore, Castigliolo Ermanno, Brunetti Mario, Lo Sardo Pietro, Sorriento Aniello, Zucchi Giovanni, Gioana Michele, Cecinato Vito, Isola Argentino, Barnaba Pietro, Ottonello Gozzaro, De Maria Mari, Bertocci Corrado


Sisto Barballo, Antonio Lubrano-Laodera, Saverio Scarpato, Nunzio Gigli, Gio-Batta Pisano, Alessandro Marasciullo, Nicola Lestingi, Giuseppe Fedele, Francesco Cantone, Antonio La Mattina, Dionisio Ardizzon, Vittorio Boscolo, Francesco Scala, Gennaro Coppola, Angelo Candò, Domenico Massa, Sergio De Vincenzo, Angelo Zanca, Antonio Lampasone, Nicola Ambrosino, Giuseppe Monese, Eraldo Buccieri, Pasquale Izzo, Mario Angelini, Enrico Renzi, Aurelio Palmero, Giulio Della Rocca, Gaetano Dassese, Artemio Bocci, Ubaldo Atoni, Felice Rossi Casè, Domenico Celotti, Ferdinando Magnani, Domenico Massa, Ambrogio Motta, GioBatta Patrone, Luigi Fiorino, Giacomo Binetti, Luigi Cinque, Guido Di Teodoro, Spartaco Principe, Gino Romacciotti, Mario Giordano, Luigi Ferrari, Giovanni Ferino, Giuseppe Tornatore, Giuseppe Polizzotto, Carmelo Cascio, Tommaso Donato, Eutimmo Lenzi, Angelo Canora, Pietro Greco, Benedetto Ferzini, Pasquale Bianco, Carlo Gembrani, Antonio Perozzi, Pasquale Di Lorenzo, Domenico Galasso, Giovanni De Gennaro, Antonio Anguzza, Liborio Cocuzza, Carmelo Guida, Cosimo Belsone, Giovanni Penzo

About  Lte. Ludovico De Filippi

Ludovico De Filippi was born in Turin on the 27th of September 1872. Growing in age he decided to join the Royal Naval and start his military education at the Acadeafb15my of Livorno. He completed his studies leaving the prestigious military institute with the rank of Lieutenant in Vascello. (Ship-of-the-line lieutenant)

Ludovico De Filippi has proofed to be onward in his developments and being a Navy professional Ludovico De Filippi got excited about a new phenomena: the airplane. He even got the Navy enthusiastic and willing to experiment with it. Soon he was involved in several experiments and was one of the first Italian pilots. He obtained his flight license (nr. 5) on July 4th, 1910 at the French flight school of Mourmelon Le Grand.

Being a man with a vision he could understand the importance of combining aviation with naval activities and became one of the first promoters after being trained with seaplanes in French territory. Due to the strong determination of Ludovico De Filippi the Italian Navy established the first hydro-aviation school in February 1913. The school was located at the Arsenale della Serenissima (Arsenal of Venice) and was equipped with seven aircraft. Ludovicon also developed a combined naval, air force plan to defend the bay in front of Venice.

It didn’t take long before Italy got sucked into the conflict of WW1. This opened up the career opportunities for Ludovico De Filippi who started as Lieutenant in Vascello on the cruiser Elba. The Elba was an armoured, so-called, protected steam vessel of the Italian Navy, which was commissioned on the 27th of February 1896. The Navy overhauled this ship to be able to support seaplanes. Before being send out on patrolling missions in the south Adriatic Ludovico got promoted to Captain of Fregata.

But still aviation was in the blood of Ludovico. He started an air force and even cooperated with the US Army to educate their pilots into seaplane pilots in Italy. After being promoted to Head of the Inspectorate of the Submarines and the Air Force of the Royal Navy WW1 was running to an end. The RN Cesare Rossarol was set into service and Ludovico De Filippi was given command to this ship. But the 16th of November 1918 was not the luckiest day in his career. As mentioned, the Cesare Rossarol ran into a sea mine and got destroyed causing the death of nearly hundred sailors, including Ludovici De Filippi.

Ludovico De Filippi left the ship as one of the last and ended up in the cold Adriatic. He found one of his sailors struggling to keep his head out of the water because he couldn’t swim. Without thinking, he offered him his life jacket paying with his own life.

For this great generosity Ludovici De Filippi posthumously received the Silver Medal of Military Valor  on May 17th 1919. Conferred to his memory: "Commander of the Royal Ruler Cesare Rossarol showed good serenity of spirit in encouraging the crew of the ship that was sinking. A marvelous example of sublime sacrifice, he gave his life jacket to a sailor who could not swim and lost his life in the generous act ".

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