Aroldo Soffritti

5 aprile 1913 – 18 febbraio 1977

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Serg. Aroldo Soffritti

Aroldo Soffritti, nato a Bondeno nel 1913, e' un Asso pluridecorato della Regia Aeronautica che ha combattuto in Africa Orientale Italiana dove ha conseguito 8 abbattimenti individuali e 5 probabili e contribuito alla distruzione di 11 velivoli al suolo. Dopo essere stato ammesso nel 1934 al Corso per Allievi Sottufficiali Piloti di Complemento della Regia Aeronautica, viene avviato, nel mese di giugno, alla Scuola Centrale di Grottaglie e, nel novembre dello stesso anno, alla Scuola Caccia di Aviano.
Nel 1935 viene assegnato al 2° Stormo Caccia Terrestre, 77^ Squadriglia e dopo un breve periodo a Bengasi, viene congedato.
Nel 1937 viene richiamato per "servizio istruzione" ed assegnato alla 91^ Squadriglia del 4° Stormo di Gorizia.
Nel 1939 la Regia Aeronautica provvede a fargli mantenere i brevetti di volo validi dandogli la possibilita' di volare su velivoli civili presso la R.U.N.A. dell'aeroporto di Forli'.
Nel marzo del 1940, insieme ad un socio avvia un'azienda agricola nel Galla Sidamo, Africa Orientale Italiana.
Con l'entrata in guerra dell'Italia, il 10 giugno 1940, viene richiamato in servizio dalla Regia Aeronautica. Si presenta a S.A. il Duca Amedeo di Savoia, Comandante delle Forze Armate in A.O.I., che gia' lo conosce fin dai tempi di Gorizia e che lo trattiene in Africa per le esigenze del suo Reparto.
Assegnato nel luglio del 1940 alla Squadriglia di S.M. di stanza a Addis Abeba, viene succcessivamente trasferito alla 412ª Squadriglia Autonoma Caccia Terrestre, "affiliata" al 4° Stormo ed equipaggiata con i CR 42. Si tratta di una unità di “elite” al comando del capitano Antonio Raffi, che vedeva tra le sue file i futuri assi come Mario Visintini e Luigi Baron.
Soffritti consegue la sua prima vittoria il 2 febbraio del 1941, abbattendo nei pressi di Tole un ricognitore Westland Lysander del No.237 Squadron. Durante le operazioni aeree eseguite nel corso della battaglia di Cheren il 19 marzo abbatte un Hurricane del 1^ Squadron della SAAF e il giorno 25 un bombardiere Bristol Blenheim.
La sua ultima azione avviene il 6 aprile durante la quale consegue ulteriori abbattimenti ma infine, a corto di carburante, e' costretto ad un atterraggio fuori campo nel deserto. Dopo diversi giorni di cammino, mangiando quel poco che trovava, bevendo acqua dalle pozzanghere e consegnando tutto quanto aveva addosso, tranne il libretto, alle bande incontrate lungo il cammino, rientra a piedi a Dessiè.
Il 26 aprile 1941, con la caduta di Dessiè in mano alle truppe sudafricane, viene fatto prigioniero insieme ad altri 10.000 uomini, tra cui 6.000 italiani. La caduta della città segna il termine delle operazioni nell'est dell'A.O.I. A .. Trasferito come prigioniero di guerra in Kenia, ritorna in patria nel 1946 e si spegne a Milano il 18 febbraio 1977.
Al Ten. Soffritti sono accreditate di 8 vittorie confermate, 5 probabili, e 11 velivoli distrutti al suolo. Sara' decorato con due Medaglie d'Argento al Valor Militare, la prima gli viene conferita il 9 febbraio del 1941.

 

Aeroporto non identificato
Il velivolo e' un CR 32 della 368^ Squadriglia.
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Aeroporto non identificato - 1934
Soffritti accanto ad un CR 20 Asso.
(sof002)
Aeroporto non identificato - 1934
Gruppo fotografato davanti ad un CR 20 Asso, piu' a sinistra, un CR 20. Soffritti e' il 3° da sinistra, in piedi.
(sof005)
Gorizia - 1937
Gruppo davanti ad un CR 32. Si riconoscono, in piedi, Romandini (3°), il Capo Motorista m.llo Bianchi (5°), Soffritti (8°, in borghese), Visintini (10°).
(sof051)
Gorizia - 1937
Gruppo davanti ad un CR 32. Si riconoscono, in piedi, Soffritti (5°, in borghese), Visintini (7°), Romandini (8°).
(sof052)
Gorizia - 1937
Gruppo davanti ad un CR 32. Si riconoscono, in piedi, davanti alla fusoliera, Romandini (1°), Soffritti (2°), m.llo Bianchi (5°). (sof053)
Gorizia - 1937
Personale davanti a due CR 32. Il velivolo a sinistra ha le insegne che lo identificano come aereo personale del Comandante del 4° Stormo (due cavallini rampanti, uno su sfondo bianco e l'altro su sfondo nero del IX e X Gruppo).
(sof054)
Gorizia - 1937
CR 32 fotografato in prossimita' dell'hangar della 90^ e 91^ Squadriglia (non visibile a sinistra). Dietro al CR 32 si riconoscono alcuni dettagli della "Colonia Elioterapica" che ospitava in estate, i figli degli abitanti del vicino paese di Merna. Sullo sfondo si riconosce il "Vallone" che porta al bivio di Duino. (sof061)

Gorizia - 1937
Soffritti (?) a bordo di un CR 32 appartenente alla 91^ Squadriglia.
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Gorizia - 1936
Il CR 32 "personale" del Comandante di Stormo.
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"C. Lago di Asciemappi (???) 1936".
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Foto con dedica a Soffritti da Giovanni Cottino.
(sof211)
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Eritrea - 1940
"Squadriglia 412^. Fronte di Keren". Nella foto un CR 42 esegue un passaggio sul campo, a bassa quota.
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Eritrea - 1940
"Apparecchio 412^, campo segreto K" Probabilmente trattasi di Keren. Il velivolo, un CR 42, e' sottoposto a manutenzione. (sof223)
Abissinia -1940
Un CR 42 della 413^ Squadriglia in volo
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(sof225)
Dire Daua -1941
Sul retro della foto si riesce a leggere solamente: " ..... Serg.Magg. Pilota Vannoni, Serg.Pilota Cellesi, Serg.Magg. Pilota Paliti (?), Serg. Pilota Scarselli, Serg.Magg. Pilota Lucenti, Serg. Pilota Soffritti...". Nella foto Soffritti e' il 7° (ultimo) da sinistra.
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Ndarugu (Kenia) - Febbraio 1946
Soffritti e' il 2° in piedi da sinistra.
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"Squadra del calcio di Moshi Tanganika".
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Il sergente Aroldo Soffritti probabilmente poco dopo la nomina a Sottufficiale.
(sof302)
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1941
Cartolina postale con dedica."Al Soffritti - Vannoni. Collega di prigionia. Villaggio Savoia Ala 14/9/1941".
Foto scattata probabilmente dopo la cattura ed il trasferimento verso il campo di prigionia.
(sof306)
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tratto da

http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/italy_soffritti.htm

Aroldo Soffritti was born on 5 April 1913 in Bondeno (Ferrara). Soffritti received his military wings in October 1934. After a period of service in Libya and another in Gorizia in the ranks of 4o Stormo he apparently left active service to go to East Africa where he had obtained a lot of land in company with a farmer friend. Here he was surprised by the war and rejoined the air force, initially in the bombers then in the 412a Squadriglia, which was equipped with Fiat CR.42s. On 26 November 1940, six Blenheims IV of 14 Squadron went to bomb the Railway station at Nefasit, a town near Asmara on the road to Massawa. Three Fiats (Tenente Mario Visintini, Sergente Aroldo Soffritti and another pilot) intercepted them over the island of Dessei at 08:30, damaging the aircraft (R3593) of Flight Officer MacKenzie, which was forced to land on the coast north of Massawa. This claim seems to have been credited to Tenente Visintini. The leader of the flight, Squadron Leader Stapleton, landed alongside and recovered the crew.
In the same action, Sergente Soffritti claimed a damaged Blenheim.
At 14:00 on 29 January, 1 SAAF Squadron took off to attack Gura, with six Hurricanes (Major Lawrence Wilmot, Captain K. W. Driver, Lieutenants John Hewitson, Andrew Duncan, Hendrik Johannes Piet Burger and Leonard le Clues Theron) flying as top cover to five Gladiators, which would strafe. As they approached the Hurricanes run into several S.79s and a large number of CR.42s, which were seen over the airfield, the bombers having just returned from a raid over the front, and the fighters having scrambled at the approach of the South African aircraft. Captain Driver at once attacked an S.79 as it was going in to land, and shot it down in flames, two members of the crew baling out. The Gladiators then arrived, led by Captain Brian Boyle. These also met the Fiats, Lieutenant H. P. Smith (Gladiator N5851) and Lieutenant E. A. Jarvis each claiming one shot down.
Capitano Antonio Raffi, commander of the 412a Squadriglia, was above with two of his pilots, Tenente Luciano Cacciavillani and Maresciallo Soffritti (they scrambled at 15:20), and he saw the Hurricane shoot down the S.79 before he could intervene. He then spotted the Gladiators, which he believed to be six strong, and at once, a great dogfight begun, during which the South Africans saw many Fiats falling away. Driver meanwhile had seen Adi Ugri landing ground on which four S.81s were dispersed, and attacking these, he left one (claimed as a S.79) in flames.
On return to base the combat with the Fiats was fully discussed, and it was decided that five had been shot down, one each by Lieutenant Smith and Lieutenant Jarvis, the other three being impossible to allocate to individual pilots. All the SAAF aircraft returned safely, although one Gladiator (N5831) had been hit by a single bullet.
This proves how easy it was to overestimate the damage caused, and indeed the numbers involved, in a whirling dogfight. Although several CR.42s were hit and damaged, none was in fact shot down. Tenente Cacciavillani's CR.42 was badly damaged by 50 hits, and Maresciallo Soffritti's was also damaged. Capitano Raffi’s own aircraft was hit five times and he recorded that he took ten bullets in his parachute and lost the fabric in the fuselage close to the cockpit and the tail plane. It seems that Raffi’s fire hit and damaged Lieutenant Smith Gladiator, who landed unhurt. The Italians reported combat against four Hurricanes and six Gladiators and reported one Gladiator shot down. Tenente Cacciavillani fired 60 rounds of 7.7mm, and claimed a Gladiator probably destroyed (shared) (strangely enough, this claim has been cancelled by a pen line in his logbook).
On the Northern Front during the morning of 2 February 1941 a Lysander of 237 Squadron, N1206 flown by Flying Officer M. A. Johnson, was on tactical reconnaissance over the Scipitole-Tole road when it encountered three Ca.133s dropping supplies to troops at the front. Johnson at once attacked one of the bombers, forcing it to land and crash. Unknown to him however, the Capronis were escorted by three 412a Squadriglia CR.42s, and these now attacked the Lysander. Sergeant J.G.P. Burl fired three pans of ammunition at them with the rear gun, seeing smoke from the engine of one fighter, but he was wounded in the wrist. The Lysanders controls were shot through and it crash-landed violently to the east of Tole, the pilot being rendered unconscious. The aircraft was claimed shot down by Soffritti. Under the fire from the fighters, which were strafing the wreckage, Burl managed to pull Johnson clear, both members of the crew subsequently being decorated.
In the morning on 7 February, two Wellesley IIs of 47 Squadron took off from Barentu and flew a recon mission over Adi Ugri (a town now called Mendefera). Capitano Mario Visintini took off from Asmara with Sergente Soffritti and shot down both.
The two Wellesleys were K8525 (F/O R. R Helsby PoW, 31-years-old Pilot Officer Ernest John Bainbridge (RAF 78988) KIA and 20-years-old Sergeant Arthur Harold Paine (RAF 794557) KIA) and K7759 (26-years-old Flight Sergeant Edwin Ellis Blofield (RAF 564554) KIA, 27-years-old Sergeant John Herbert Davies (RAF 563111) KIA and Sergeant L. Bird PoW).
It seems that Sergente Soffritti was credited with one of these Wellesleys.
On a later mission the same day, Soffritti claimed a Hurricane.
At dawn on 9 February, Capitano Mario Visintini led an attack on Akordat airfields and its satellite airfield with Tenente Carlo Canella, Tenente Raimondo Di Pauli, Sergente Soffritti and Sergente Pietro Morlotti (all from the 412a Squadriglia).
The attack was repeated in the same evening on Akordat and Bisha airfields.
A total of 16 aircraft were claimed by Italians in these two missions: 11 burned and 5 damaged including 5 Hurricanes, 5 Hawker biplanes, 2 Gladiators, 2 Wellesleys, 1 Valentia and 1 ‘Martin’ Lysander.
The 203 Group diary admitted 6 destroyed and 4 badly damaged in the morning, 1 burned and 4 damaged in the evening, for a total of 15 out-of-use aircraft. Destroyed aircraft included two Wellesleys (K7713 and L2665) of 47 Squadron, two Hardys (K5921 and K4319) and two Lysanders L1026 and R2044) of 237 Squadron.
At this point, Mario Visintini was granted with a Medaglia d’oro al valor militare for his outstanding combat record, while the other four pilots each gained a Medaglia d’argento al valor militare for the daring missions.
On 19 March 1941, two 1 SAAF Squadron Hurricanes were patrolling over the Keren area when they were attacked by three 412a Squadriglia CR.42s, Maresciallo Soffritti claiming to have shot down one of the South African fighters during a sortie between 15:00-17:20. Captain Brian Boyle’s aircraft was damaged but he returned safely to base.
Blenheims of 14 Squadron was attacking enemy targets in the Keren area in the evening on on 25 March 1941 when they were intercepted by three CR.42. Both were damaged but got back with their crews unhurt. The Italians claimed one shot down by Soffritti and the other badly damaged.
Between 07:10 and 08:30 on 28 March 1941, Soffritti claimed to have shot down a Hurricane in the Ad Teclesan area on the Northern Front.
Over Eritrea on 4 April 1941, Soffritti claimed to have shot down a British bomber between 07:30 and 08:05; no losses by the RAF appear to have been recorded.
On 26 April 1941, Soffritti was captured at Dessie, together with 10,000 men, including 6,000 Italians, 52 guns, 236 machine guns and 240 lorries, thus ending his part in the East African campaign.
At the time of his capture, Aroldo Soffritti was credited with 8 biplane victories, 5 probables, 11 shared destroyed on the ground.
During the war, he was decorated with two Medaglie d’argento al valor militare.
Soffritti returned to Italy in 1946.
Soffritti passed away in Milan on 18 February 1977.
 

TOTAL: 8 destroyed, 5 probably destroyed, 1 damaged, 11 shared destroyed on the ground, 5 shared damaged on the ground.