The sinking of the ship Oria

The forgotten graveyard of 4200 Italians

On February 12, 1944, the Egean Sea was the theatre of one of the biggest naval disasters of the Mediterranean. The ship Oria, which had departed from Rhodes on February 11, sank amidst a storm off Sounion Cape, carrying more than 4000 Italian PoWs and about 90 German soldiers.

Very few survived: about 50 among Italian and German soldiers. Given the very high human cost, the sinking of the Oria is considered one of the worst naval disasters ever. In spite of its gravity, this tragic incident is to this day still little known. In recent years, thanks to the Internet, relatives of the dead and a few Greeks that took the matter at heart began discussing it. They reconstructed the events and asked the intervention of the Italian authorities in order to compile a thorough report of the events and to make it officially public.

The main objective, however, is to recover what is left of the disaster and can still be seen on the sea floor near Patroklou Island, theatre of the accident.

We hope the Italian authorities will contribute to the effort of bringing together the remains of our fallen soldiers. Some could still be recovered; some others were buried on various sites along the coast of Keratea Attica; and some others were transferred to the Memorial for the Fallen Overseas (Sacrario dei Caduti d’Oltremare) in Bari, in the 50s.

War History Online

Article by Pietro Giovanni Liuzzi

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Articles by Damian De Virgilio

  • Part I: Background
  • Part II: Seeking the Truth
  • Part III: We Will Not Forgot

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