Italo Balbo

Italo Balbo

Birth
Quartesana, Provincia di Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Death 28 Jun 1940 (aged 44)
Tobruk, Al Buṭnān, Libya
Burial Grosseto, Provincia di Grosseto, Toscana, Italy
Memorial ID 108335771 · View Source
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Italian Air Force General. Member of the Grand Council of Fascism, he became Minister of Aeronautics and Governor General of Libya during the Benito Mussolini fascist regime. For him was set up a special rank of the Royal Italian Air Force, Maresciallo Dell'aria (Marshal of the Air Force). Son of Camillo Balbo and Malvina Zuffi, both elementary school teachers, he grew up in a family where there was a absolute respect for the monarchy and military institutions. After his birth, family Balbo moved from Quartesana to Ferrara, important political center animated by socialist ideas where the young Italo started to participate actively in political discussions. In 1914, while participating in a political demonstration in Milan, he met Benito Mussolini, later became a bodyguard for Cesare Battisti during his speeches in favor of military intervention to liberate Albania from Turkish rule. During World War I, he served in the Alpini battalion "Val Fella." Promoted to lieutenant on October 16, 1917, he left the battalion to serve at the Deposito Aeronautico of Turin and attend a piloting course. A few days later, due to the Austro-German offensive, he was forced to return to the front, assigned to the Alpini Battalion "Monte Antelao". In 1918, under the command of the spearhead of the Alpini Battalion "Pieve di Cadore", took part to offensive on Monte Grappa, which liberated the city of Feltre. During the last phase of the war he earned a bronze medal and two silver medals for valor, reaching the rank of captain. In March 1919, Balbo returned to study in Florence at the Institute of Social Sciences "Cesare Alfieri", where he graduated in Social Sciences on November 30, 1920 with a thesis entitled "Il pensiero economico e sociale di Giuseppe Mazzini." After the war, Balbo joined the fascism and soon became secretary of the fascist section of Ferrara. In October 1922, he was one of the "quadrumvirs" of the March on Rome, along with Emilio De Bono, Cesare Maria De Vecchi and Michele Bianchi. In 1924 he became Console della Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (MVSN or The Blackshirts) and later in 1924 Commanding General of the MVSN and Under Secretary for National Economy. On 6 November 1926, he was appointed Secretary of State for Aviation and proceeded to re-organize the newly formed Reggia Aeronautica. Balbo unfolded great energy in imposing discipline and rigor to the newly formed Italian Royal Air Force, setting aside the romantic aspects and individualistic of the pioneering aviation and focusing it instead to form a cohesive and disciplined Armed Force. Achieved a enormous popularity and considered as a politically treacherous rival of Mussolini, it was probably for these reasons that Balbo was promoted to governor of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan that under his patronage, merged into a single colony in 1934, Libya. Balbo gave a strong impetus to the Italian colonization of Libya by organizing the influx of tens of thousands of pioneers from Italy and following a policy of integration and peace with Muslim populations. Were initiated public works projects and the development of road and rail network, respectively 4000 km and 400 km of new roads and railways, in particular the coastal road that follows the Mediterranean for hundreds of kilometers and which in his honor was called Via Balbia. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Balbo who was visiting Rome, expressed repeatedly discontent and concern for the military alliance with Germany and the policy followed by Mussolini both domestically and internationally. In fact, his dissent against Duce had increasingly worsened since 1938, when on several occasions expressed his opposition to racial laws enacted by Mussolini. Since the early days of the war, the British armored vehicles caused many problems to the Italians in Lybia, and the elimination of these proved to be strategically important. Balbo and his army captured the first armored vehicles on June 21, 1940, subsequently he planned a secret operation to capture other armored vehicles stationed in the area of Sollum. The plan included the landing of some aircraft in the airfield of Sidi Azeis for act as a decoy and allow the action of a column of the Italian Army coming from Ridotta Capuzzo. The General decided to go to Sidi Azeis to make contacts with the units in the area and on June 28, took off from Derna with two S.79, one piloted by himself and one by General Felice Porro. On the way back the aircraft of Balbo in nearby Tobruk was mistaken by the Italian anti-aircraft of the San Giorgio cruiser for one of the British aircrafts that at that very moment were attacking the Italian warships and was intercepted and shot down. The Balbo's aircraft crashed to the ground in flames, killing the entire crew. The days from 29 June to 4 July 1940 were declared national mourning and on June 30, funeral procession brought the bodies of the fallen in Benghazi, where on 1 July took place the funeral rites. The next day the bodies were brought by plane to Tripoli, where was staged a mortuary in the seat of the colonial government. On July 4, after a Mass in the Cathedral of San Francesco all the biers were brought through the streets of Tripoli. At the suggestion of Mussolini, the remains of Balbo were buried in the place chosen for the War Memorial in Tripoli, with the idea of ​​transferring them to Italy after the war. The Balbo's body and his crew fallen in the air crash of Tobruk remained in Libya until 1970, when the family Balbo, decided to repatriate the remains in Italy choosing as final place rest, Orbetello. Here Balbo rests with all members of the crew of his last fatal flight.

Bio by: Ruggero


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Ruggero
  • Added: 11 Apr 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 108335771
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Italo Balbo (6 Jun 1896–28 Jun 1940), Find a Grave Memorial no. 108335771, citing Cimitero degli Atlantici, Grosseto, Provincia di Grosseto, Toscana, Italy ; Maintained by Find A Grave .