E. ANTONATOS Bust Portrait of Greek Sailor of Cruiser Elli ca. 1940 - x +
AntE1940elli

CN: AntE1940elli

MT: silver print on paper mounted on double paper on card (29x23 / C:39x29)

TX: signed with pencil at lower right of border in Greek <E. Antonatos>

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos - 2008

CM: Elli was a 2,600 ton and 98 meter Greek light cruiser named for a naval battle of the First Balkan War in which Greece was victorious. She was originally ordered built as the Fei Hung by the Chinese government, but due to the Nationalist revolution in 1912-1913, the order was cancelled. Completed in 1914 by New York Shipbuilding in the United States, she was purchased by Greece as part of their program of naval expansion after the Balkan Wars. She saw action during World War I and in the Asia Minor Expedition.

Elli was sunk during peacetime at 8:25 am ,on 15 August 1940, while she rode at anchor, by the Italian submarine Delfino near the island of Tinos. Elli was in Tinos participating in the celebrations of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. One of the four torpedoes fired hit Elli under the one operating boiler and she caught fire and sunk. Nine petty officers and sailors were killed and twenty-four were wounded. The same submarine attempted to torpedo the passenger ships M/V Elsi and M/V Esperos anchored in the port. This attempt failed and only a section of the port's wharf was damaged by torpedoes.

Fragments of the torpedoes were recovered, and identified as Italian in origin. The Greek government however, trying to avoid a confrontation with Italy at the time, announced that the nationality of the attacking submarine was unknown, an act that did not prevent the Greco-Italian War two months later, and did not convince the Greek people who were well aware of the real perpetrator.

After war, as compensation for the sinking of Elli, Italy gave Greece the cruiser Eugenio di Savoia which was commissioned in June 1950 for the Royal Hellenic Navy with the name Elli. She served until 1973. Since 1982, a Standard Class frigate, F-450 Elli, the lead ship of the Elli class bears the same name.

[Megakles 12/2007]

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