Genoa during the war
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Also during the Second World War, Genoa was a strategic nerve point on the national economy. The port and industrial plants had already been for some time a key to the wartime productive structure and as a result had an advantageous workman force. The Company Ansaldo already had 16.000 workers by 1937, increasing to 30.000 in 1941. Also significant was the employment role in the maritime section and in the port, at least until the beginning of the War.

Slide show of the british fleet which attacked Genoa on 1941

Figures released in 1941, when there was a reduction in figures, indicated they still employed about 23.000 seamen who were working for the port plus another 8.000 dockers in port loading and unloading vessels. These figures, mainly due to the continual air/naval bombardments on the City, resulted in deaths amongst the population and distruction of the industrial plants, brought about in an impressive way, unemployment amongst the the seamen touched a 50% level, whilst the dockers touched a higher level of around 70-90%.

Nothing better than what was documented in the terse and cold war bulletin, can give the idea of the depth of the tragedy of the events which literally showered our City.


As dawn broke on the 9th February, the enemy's naval fleet, with the help of a dense fog, arrived outside Genoa . In spite of the quick intervention of the coastal battery of the Royal Marine, the enemy struck the military targets, and caused the deaths of 72 and left 226 injured – as ascertained to date – and brought about grave damage to the Genoese civilian property and population. The superior calm and discipline of the Genoese people deserves to be praised. An airforce formation bombed the enemy fleet in the afternoon, hitting the stern of a cruiser with a bomb.



The most sensational news of the 9th February, was the brilliant attack carried out by the English squadron on the important Italian port Genoa , while aircraft carrier the Ark Royal had efficently bombed military targets at Leghorn and Pisa . The naval fleet composed of the battleship Renown and Malaya from the aircraft carrier Ark Royal , from the cruiser Sheffield and 10 other torpedo boats, coming from Gibraltar under the command of the Sommerville, arrived at dawn in front of the Genoa port and rained 300 tons of bomb onto the City. The results of the bombing were satisfactory. It seems that the office and electrical production of the Ansaldo plant was damaged, the boiler plants of the same Company, the electrical plant of the port, the dry docks, port machinery and naval transport, also damaged to the port railway station.

Bombed for the first time on the first night of the War, between 11 and 12 June 1940, surprisingly shelled from sea on 9 Febryary 1941, “guinea pig City” of the new and mortal technology of low flying bombing on 22nd October 1942, flattened during the year 1944, Genoa came out of the Second World War deeply wounded with thousands of victims amongst the civil population and over 16.000 buildings destroyed or damaged, a long War accepted but not wanted.


Slide show of the "italian side"

The situation in the port at the end of the War is as follows:

•  Mines fields: at the external part of the two port entrances and the construction berth at Sestri.

•  Entrance to the port: impossibile to use due to the obstruction of sunk ships.

•  About 320 ships and 600 buoys sunk inside the port.

•  Outer breakwater: damaged an area of about 86 meters near the seaplane station, 286 holes for mines every 20 meters.

•  Dry docks unoperable: due to the flooding of the drainage station, lesions and tears boats – doors sunk, dock machinery of quays n.4 dismounted and transported into the City.

•  Bridges and quays: 56% badly damaged and partly completely destroyed.

•  Warehouse: only 19 cranes workable out of total of 250 cranes.

•  Naval station quays: light damage to Ponte dei Mille, but Ponte Andrea Doria was badly damaged.

•  Buildings and repair workshops: some reduced to rubble, all gravely damaged.

•  Buildings and private plants: all damaged, Deposito Franco completely destroyed and the refrigerated stores of calata Gadda, the grain storage machinery dismounted and taken outside the port.

•  The railways: mostly disorganized, and the electrical machinery completely destroyed, the lines connecting with inside country galleries either completely or partly collapsed.

•  San Giorgio Palace: the principal structure was destroyed.

The port of Genoa on 1945. See the locations of mines and wrecks.

(The statistics have been supplied by the Historical Archives of the Genoa Port Authority).

Carlo Gatti - Taken from his "Genoa: history of ship events and salvage operations", published by NEG - 2003