Who's Who - Duke of the Abruzzi

Duke of the Abruzzi Amedeo di Savoia-Aosta, better known as Duke of the Abruzzi (1837-1933), served as Italy's battlefleet commander from 1914-17.

Prior to his appointment as battlefleet commander in 1914 Abruzzi's naval career led him to conduct scientific and geographic expeditions.

The third son of Spain's former king and the cousin of Italian King Victor Emmanuel III, the dashing Abruzzi was highly regarded in naval figures as the ideal battlefleet Commander-in-Chief.

Nevertheless Abruzzi shared Chief of Staff Thaon di Revel's concern not to endanger Italy's 'fleet in being' in anything other than strategically significant engagements - ideally against the Austro-Hungarian navy.

In the absence of these he declined to risk the fleet in minor surface actions, an apparent inactivity that proved a political liability.  However Abruzzi suffered from a shortage of destroyers for use in anti-submarine operations.  The gradual but steady loss of Italian warships drained his support within the government although he remained popular within naval circles.

Abruzzi did However earn plaudits for his role in the evacuation in early 1916 of the Serbian Army.  Still, once the Italian press determined to call for Abruzzi's head his fate was ultimately sealed.

He was replaced in February 1917 by Admiral Revel, turning down an alternate (but purely honorary) appointment as Inspector-General of the Navy.

Abruzzi played no further wartime role.  He was appointed full Admiral in 1918 and died in 1933 aged 96.

A "conchie" was slang used to refer to a conscientious objector.

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