Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Da Zara, Alberto (1889–1951)

Italian navy admiral. Born in Padua on 8 April 1889 into a family of Jewish background, Alberto Da Zara entered the Naval Academy in 1907 and was commissioned in 1911. He participated in the 1911–1912 Italo-Turkish War and in World War I, earning promotion for his service and two silver medals for bravery as commander of motor torpedo boats.

Advanced to lieutenant commander in 1923, from 1924 to 1925 Da Zara commanded a naval detachment in China and then served in the headquarters of the Venice Naval Command. In 1927 he was promoted to commander, and in 1930 he was appointed deputy commander of the battleship Duilio. Later he commanded other warships, including the cruiser Montecuccoli, in which in 1933 he made a long cruise in the Far East. He was advanced to captain during that cruise. He commanded the cruiser Aosta during her 12 February 1937 shelling of Republican positions at Valencia during the Spanish Civil War.

Promoted to commodore in 1939, Da Zara then commanded the Albanian Naval Command. When Italy entered the war in June 1940, Da Zara commanded a squadron with his flag in the light cruiser Di Giussano, with which he took part in the battle with the British navy off Calabria on 9 July 1940. Da Zara then received command of the Venice Arsenal, and from August 1941 to March 1942 he headed the Anti-Submarine Inspectorate. He was promoted to division admiral (rear admiral).

In March 1942, Da Zara took command of the VII Naval Division with his flag in the cruiser Eugenio di Savoia. He took part in the Battle of Pantelleria on 15 June 1942 during Operation harpoon, and for his bravery in battle he was awarded the Military Order of Savoy. He then carried out several actions with light vessels. In August 1943, Da Zara became commander of the V Naval Division, hoisting his flag in the battleship Duilio. He held the command during the armistice with the Allies and then proceeded to Malta with the ships to surrender. On 10 March 1944, Da Zara was promoted to vice admiral and become inspector of naval forces, with his flag in the battleship Giulio Cesare.

With his notable service at sea and his recognized bravery under fire, Da Zara was probably the most effective Italian admiral of the war. He retired in September 1946, wrote his war memoirs that year, and died in Foggia on 4 June 1951.

Alessandro Massignani


Further Reading
Da Zara, Alberto. Pelle d'ammiraglio. Milan, Italy: Mondadori, 1946.; Greene, Jack, and Alessandro Massignani. The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940–1943. London: Chatham Publishing, 1998.
 

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