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Heroes and Victims
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Giuseppe Iurman (It. Giormani)
 (1906-15 February 1942)

Between January 1941 and December 1942, the Italians lost 171 ships in the Mediterranean, totalling over half a million tons. A high proportion of those losses were inflicted by the submarines of Malta, supported by those from Alexandria/Beirut and Gibraltar. Losing half a million tons of shipping was key to the Axis defeat in North Africa.

The HMS P-38 was an U-class British submarine, built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness, U.K., it was launched July 9, 1941 and commissioned on October 17, 1941. The HMS P-38 was based in Malta.

A convoy of the Italian steamer, Ariosto (a merchant ship) and the German Atlas departed Tripoli on the February 13, 1942 for Palermo, escorted by destroyer Premuda and torpedo boat Polluce. On February 15, 1942, the HMS P-38, commanded by Lt. R.J. Hemmingway, R..N, DSC, torpedoed and sank the Italian merchant ship Ariosto (4115 or 4116 BRT) off Tunisia. The ship was carrying 410 men, including 294 Allied prisoners of war. The escort ships picked up 252 survivors. Atlas and Polluce arrived at Palermo on February 16, 1942 at 1500 (3 P.M.). 138 prisoners of war died in that sinking, along with 20 others.

Of the 20 fatalities who not identified as prisoners of war, how many were Istrians? Giuseppe (Pepi) Iurman (family nickname: lu Zuretiza) was one.

The very next day, the HMS P 38 left Malta to intercept another convoy off Tripoli. By the 23rd she was in position as the convoy hove into view. Amongst the convoy was the Italian torpedo boat Circe. At 0800 the Circe reported a contact with a submarine and that she turned in to attack. A periscope was sighted but was quickly replaced by bubbles as the submarine dived realising it had been spotted. At 1050 after a flurry of attacks HMS P-38 rose stern first out of the water, her propellers turning wildly, before crashing back beneath the waves. A large patch of oil appeared on the surface as well as debris, clear evidence of the submarine’s destruction. P 38 was sunk east of Tripoli, western Libya in position 32.45N, 15.00E. There were no survivors. 

Giuseppe Iurman was born in Noselo, Istria (Villanova d'Arsa under Italy, Nova vas today), the first-born child of Caterina Sabirsek (b. Fiume) and Mateo Iurman of Noselo. He left behind a widow, Luisa (Slava) who was his first cousin, and their four children - Gino, Margherita, Lorenzo and Igea. With the widow unable to support the family alone, the older two children, Gino and Margherita (Rita), were sent to an orphanage in Rome, while the younger two remained with their mother. The remaining family later left Noselo and emigrated to Trieste where they lived in the refugee holding station called Silos for approximately three years, then found their own apartment in that city. Margherita was re-united with her mother and two younger siblings and emigrated with them to the U.S.A., whereas Gino joined the merchant marines and jumped ship in New York City in 1950. He was already married by the time the rest of the family arrived on Februry 8 (my birthday), 1957.

The above are the only known photographs of this Istrian victim of World War 2. Wedding photographs of all four of his children are at:

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Created: Thursday, June 30, 2005, Last Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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