Amongst the Pilots

Sergeant Luigi Mancini

He is an Abruzzan (the word “Abruzzese” is handwritten on the side of the article; the original word is blackened out) in every sense of the word. He is an excellent pilot. As soon as he gained his license he was sent into the field of operations – on 5th April 1916 – with the 48th Squadron, undertaking about 20 flights.

On 15th June he was transferred to the 45th Squadron (sixth group) where he undertook very lengthy photographic reconnaissance flights, directed rifle fire, carried out bombings and dropped propaganda manifestoes. Sometimes he flew at very low levels and at least 20 kilometres behind enemy lines to shoot their troops. He performed various reconnoitres over mountainous zones going beyond Mount Rombon[1], and he flew many times over the enemy front lines frequently returning to the airfield with his plane full of bullet holes, shrapnel, grenade fragments and bullets. Even though his plane was frequently damaged, he always managed to complete his missions.

He was in many air battles and he always put the enemy to flight. Amongst numerous incidents we recall that of 27th July 1916. Hit full on by enemy cannon, the main longeron (girder) of the upper wing of his biplane (Ansaldo S.V.A[2]) and the link-block of the landing carriage were both broken, yet never-the-less he managed to land the plane safely in the airfield from which he’d departed. Despite these extreme difficulties he landed successfully.

He took part in the glorious expeditions to Gorizia, Hermada, and the expedition in which 130 aircraft all returned safely, on the day Monte Vodice was taken, Monte Santo, the Kuk and Bainsezza,[see map for some of these places] carrying out up to three reconnaissance flights and bombing raids per day. On 20th June 1917 he was transferred from the 45th Squadron to the Field School at Cascina Malpensa to go from flying the Ansaldo S.V.A. to flying the Nieuport[3] airplane.

After earning his license he was sent to defend Ancona where he carried out many flights, necessitated by the frequent alarms, amongst which that of 3rd November 1917, in which he was in a lengthy fight with an enemy aircraft, which he put to flight without it reaching its objective. He shot 50 rounds of his machine-gun at it, forcing a landing in the sea 20 Kilometres from the coast, but without capturing it, because it was immediately towed away by the torpedo-boat that was waiting there. On 18th November he was transferred to the Taliedo airfield (Milan) to transport aircraft in flight.

Translator’s Footnotes:

[1] Mount Rombon – is now in Slovenia, capturing it was vitally important to Italy in the Great War (WWI).
Now in Northern Italy, several high plateaus located between the coastal zone near the Adriatic and the high Alps further inland, were scenes of desperate fighting on the Italian Front in the First World War. Two tablelands of the wildest limestone geology imaginable, the Carso and the Bainsezza, positioned south of the Julian Alps were the site of relentless struggle during the war.

The Italian Front - an aircraft patrols the mountain outposts.
The Isonzo Front was where many of Mancini’s mountain flying exploits took place :-

see The Eleven Battles of the Isonzo for a good description of the 11 battles of the Isonzo (1915-1919)


 [2] Ansaldo S.V.A.- the type of plane Mancini flew 



[3] Nieuport Identification 


Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca