Emilio Bianchi. The Emilio Largo of Ian Fleming’s Thunderball
The death of Emilio Bianchi, agend 102, on 15 August 2015, was commented on The Guardian gallantly honouring him with a full page obituary.
I was a friend of one of such torpedo-men, Gino Chiari, who after the war moved to Argentina and was visiting Hong Kong from time to time. He gave me an original X Mas sweater which is now in a drawer of my wardrobe.
Also Gino Birindelli, the father of Luca Birindelli, who had an office here in Hong Kong was in the same team of Bianchi during the raid on Alexandria and had died at 100, 4 years ago in Rome.
Emilio Bianchi was the last survivor of one of the most spectacular coups of the Second World War – the sinking of two British battleships in Alexandria harbour. Winston Churchill described in Parliament their feat as ‘demonstrating extraordinary courage and ingenuity.’
On the night of December 18, 1941, the Italian submarine Scirè emerged off the coast of Egypt. It was commanded by the British-educated Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, who a few days earlier had picked up a six-man team of naval commandos on the Greek island of Leros. Their coup gave overnight naval superiority in the Mediterranean to the Italian Navy but the admirals sitting in Rome were unable, or unwilling, to take advantage of it by occupying Malta. The son of Prince Borghese, Paolo, after the war became a Hong Kong resident. An electric engineer by training took care of most of the electrification of the Island of Hong Kong and then retired in Australia.
Emilio Bianchi inspired Ian Fleming’s character of Emilio Largo – the villain in the story – for his best seller James Bond’s novel ‘Thunderball.’
Here is the wonderful article of The Guardian