The Black Prince and the Sea Devils is the thrilling story of Prince Junio Valerio Borghese, an Italian leader of noble lineage. He created the first modern naval frogmen squad called the Decima Mas. They fought underwater with miniature submarines and boats equipped with deadly torpedoes. The precursor to today’s Special Forces, Decima Mas utilized covert operations under cover of darkness and two man teams armed with explosives to cause havoc for the Allies.
The night of December 18, 1941, saw one of the most intrepid actions in naval warfare take place against British ships moored in the Alexandria, Egypt, harbor. Three torpedoes, each ridden by two man teams, invaded the harbor underwater and started attaching explosives to three of the nearest and most important Allied vessels.
Despite the success of the mission, the men in one of the torpedo boats were captured and their commander was imprisoned and held on board the HMS Valiant as the bomb he had lain on the ship ticked away. When three explosions sounded and sent the Sagona, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant beneath the waves somehow Commander de la Penne survived.
Although a bit dry in places (when going over specs for the various incarnations of the torpedoes), Greene and Massignani keep the story moving along at an interesting pace. This book is a good read for anyone who is a World War II or naval battle buff.