The origins of the present-day ITN Raiders can be traced back to the legendary men who performed dramatic unconventional war missions during WWI and WWII, often risking their own lives. These heroes, Tesei, Todaro and Durand de la Penne - just to name a few, were awarded the highest military decoration: the Gold Medal for Military Valor to the memory.

Their legacy is still alive. The two anchors today laying at the entrance of the Ministry of the Italian Navy, in Rome, bear testimony of the valor shown in the sinking of the Austro-Hungarian Battleships SMS Viribus Unitis at the Pola Harbour , the most protected base of the K.u.K. Kriegsmarine, and the SMS Tegetthoff during WWI (November 1, 1918).

Early in the summer of the same year, daring and risky actions had already been carried out by Ltd. Cdr. Luigi Rizzo who pioneered a new form of attack using MAS (Motor Torpedo Boats). On June 10, 1918, off the Dalmatian Island of Premuda, a commando guided by Rizzo himself, managed to sink the Austro-Hungarian Battleship SMS “Szent Istvan”, inflicting heavy losses. Commander Rizzo became a great war hero and this date was chosen to celebrate the Italian Navy’s Day.


Elios Toschi

Teseo Tesei

Set up in 1935 as First Assault Vehicle Flotilla, under the leadership of the Naval Engineers Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, this ad hoc team soon started to test in a secret naval base in Bocca del Serchio, near Pisa, the new equipment required to carry out its daring operations, namely to hit the enemy capital ships within their harbors, exploiting the surprise effect.

Upgrading the old prototypes of the T.S.R. (the self-propelled torpedo designed by Major Rossetti), the two naval engineers developed the slow range torpedo (SLC) – nicknamed “maiale” (pig) by Tesei for its awkwardness.


In 1937-39, the research work was interrupted and only resumed at the outbreak of WWII, when the assault units were renamed and organized as X Assault Vehicle Flotilla (X MAS). Raiders - also supported by Gamma men or frogmen, and equipment were transported to operations area by destroyers or submarines, mainly the famous SMG Sciré, sunk off Haifa (Israel) while carrying a Gamma raiders team. The most successful raids against the Home Fleet were performed in 1941: the British cruiser York and a tanker were sunk in the Suda Bay (Crete) on March 27, 1941; four British ships were damaged in the port of Alexandria (Egypt) by three human torpedoes: the battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth, the British destroyer Jervis, while the Norwegian oil tanker Sagona was sunk (December 1941).


Unfortunately, despite the acts of bravery of these men, a great deal of missions were unsuccessful and many raiders lost their lives or were captured. However, the lessons learned from these failures were treasured to improve equipment and assault techniques.

In the post war period, the Allied Powers forbade Italy to maintain special operation forces, so the X MAS was disbanded and the raiders were deployed mainly in harbor mine clearance operations. In 1954, when Italy joined the North Atlantic Council and the United Nation Organization, the Operational Raider and Divers Group (COMSUBIN) was reestablished and named after the war hero Teseo Tesei.