Antonio Vellere, the air lieutenant


Rome, 7 Dec – Heroes of the Air, Aviators, Pioneers. Many brave soldiers have given their lives to defend the Italian sky and many have never again landed alive with their aircraft. In front of the church of Santa Maria in Sarcedo, in the province of Vicenza, stands a monument dedicated to one of these heroes of the air, a native of this village: Antonio Vellere.

Childhood between poverty and seminary

Antonio Vellere's family was not in the best economic conditions. Born in the small town of Vicenza on June 5, 1913, he followed a course of study focused first on religious rule, also following the study of the classics. Of good conduct and excellent humanistic preparation, he became a primary school teacher after completing the magistral schools designed to allow the practice of teaching. He worked, first, in a small village near Thiene, later in the same city of Vicenza and, finally, in Lodi. Precisely in the Piedmontese city he was able to cultivate his second great passion: that for flying.

The torpedo bomber

Antonio Vellere joined the Royal Air Force in 1938 and attended the Royal Academy of Caserta. Just a year later he made his first flight and, within a few months, he came into possession of a military pilot's license. The young prodigy he did not even abandon his studies and graduated in letters in 1941 while studying, at the same time, for obtaining the hunting pilot's license.

The first military mission took place on 10 November 1942. Under the command of Major Massimiliano Erasi, the young man from Vicenza aboard his Marchetti S.M. 84, attacked the Ibis, an English ship, which was sunk.

On December 2, 1942, Antonio Vellere left with eight other companions to Orano, an Italian outpost in Algerian territory. In fact, an English convoy was en route to Egypt. From that mission only three aircraft will return, Antonio Vellere was not present among them. A cannon shot had hit his S.M. 79 making it explode in the air.

Her gold medal for military valor presents the following wording: "Superb figure of aerosiluratore, veteran unconquered by numerous trials against powerful enemy naval formations, took part in particularly difficult torpedo actions during an intense operating cycle, hurling himself several times and always with the same mind, against the enemy ships, through the defense fire barrier, he gave superb evidence of his heroic soldiering skills. Returning wounded by a night action, only understanding of the contingent needs, and determined not to return except with the victory, he asked to take part in the other actions of the department. Started by a risky action of torpedoing, in broad daylight and attacked by overwhelming hunting forces, while seeing three aircraft of his formation plummet, he kept his place, firm in the decision to reach the objective at all costs. Struck by a burst of machine-gun fire he melted the flame of his daring in the stake of the wing, thus disappearing into the sky of battle ".

Tommaso Lunardi

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