In June 1941, she returned to Messina, where she was assigned to escort
and patrol service in Sicily and the lower Tyrrhenian Sea; occasionally
she was to be found patrolling between Tripoli and Bengasi. During one
of her operations, she assisted in the recovery of seamen after their
torpedo boat Esperia was sunk off Tripoli; later, in the January of
1942, she assisted the destroyer Maestrale. Following the Allied invasion
of Sicily in September of 1943, she was moved first to Brindisi, then
to Fiume. On 8 September 1943, the day Italy signed her armistice with
the Allies, the vessel was located in Fiume undergoing equipment repair,
together with the Stella Polare, the Spiga and the Pigafetta. Because
she was unable to move under her own power, her crew sabotaged her to
prevent her from falling in German hands, then abandoned her; their
attempt to make the vessel unusable to the Germans was ultimately unsuccessful.
The crews of the above vessels, together with one thousand soldiers,
sailed from Fiume aboard the M/N Leopardi.
The Giuseppe Dezza was captured by the Germans and extensively repaired.
On 9 June 1944, under the designation TA35 (Torpedoboot Ausland), she
was placed on duty to serve the Kriegsmarine. The TA initials referred
to requisitioned non-German torpedo boats. As the TA35, the Giuseppe
Dezza performed escort operations along the Dalmatian coast in the company
of two other former Italian torpedo boats, the TA21 (former Insidioso)
and the TA22 (former Missori). Her service to the Kriegsmarine abruptly
ended on 17August 1944 when she hit a mine and sank in the Channel of
Fasana. The Channel of Fasana lies between Pola and Rovigno, in Croatia.
Seventy-one crewmembers perished. There have been some questions concerning
how the vessel was ultimately lost. One version holds that the TA35,
after hitting the mine and sinking in Croatian waters, was recovered
and brought to Trieste for repairs. She was then sunk during an aerial
bombardment and demolished at the end of the war. Another version argues
that the vessel sank in the channel of Fasana. This is confirmed by
Kriegsmarine files, which are considered accurate through the end of
1944; these have the TA35 sinking at the precise co-ordinates in the
Croatian channel where the vessel rests today.
The wreck of the TA35 was identified by divers, thanks to the discovery
of the stern. Beneath a thick layer of biological encrustations, they
found the name, “Dezza.” Today, the wreck lies on the sea floor at a
depth of 35 meters. It is broken into two pieces, which lie separated
by a distance of 200 meters. The bow section lies on its side, while
the stern section lies upright. One of the very first things that divers
see as they descend onto this historical wreck is the stern gun pointing
towards the sky, as if on the lookout for an approaching enemy.