Friday, December 13, 2013

Cape Town to Goodwood Day 42: Crossing the Med - another delay

A few years ago Gaetano Campione got in touch about a cigarette case he had acquired which was inscribed to the Italian pilot Jacopo Calo Carducci from Lady Heath. The dedication read: "I thank my gallant pilots who risked their lives to come and save me."
It turns out that  Jacopo Calo Carducci was the captain of the seaplane Savoia,  sent with the approval of Mussolini to  escort Lady Heath across the Mediterranean from Tunis to Scily. A native of Bari, Carducci was one of the Trasvolatori Atlantic Italo Balbo. He died in 1939 in the skies of  Sirte (Libya) during a secret mission of which little is known even today.
The Savoia  left Syracuse  on April 26 - the day the giblieh begun to blow. When the plane, with Carducci  and two mechanics on board, failed to arrive,  seaplanes and destroyers were sent out to look for it with the co-operation of the British in Malta. After five days, plane and crew were  finally found about 40 miles off the coast,  with all three men alive and well.
A second seaplane that could have escorted Lady Heath was diverted to the rescue effort and its
aftermath and so Lady Heath again called on the services of Dick Bentley, who had since arrived in Tunis.
"I think I am rather foolish about water, but the experience that those gallant flying officers from Italy had in their Savoia had made me more than ever scared of tackling water in a land machine."
Like Tracey and Spirit of Artemis, Mary Heath and G-EBUG had travelled the length of  Africa relatively unscathed but she ran into all sorts of trouble once she hit north Africa, where she notes that she had to leave her plane in hangars rather than out in the open.

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