World: A Fleet Is Born

In the late afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 8, a message reached Admiral Bagliria, commander of the Italian battle fleet berthed at La Spezia. The Italian surrender had been announced. Admiral Bagliria knew what to do; his decision had been made for him. Aboard his flagship, the 35,000-ton battleship Roma, he gave an order. At 6:30 p.m. the fleet moved out of La Spezia, turned southward.

The event was, in its way, as impressive as the very different spectacles provided by other navies in similar circumstances. In 1919, rebellious German sailors scuttled the German...

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