Balbo, Italo, born 06-06-1896, in Quartesena, Italy, was an Italian aviator, Black shirt leader, Marshal of the Air Force, Governor-General of Libya, Commander in Chief of Italian North Africa, and the “heir apparent” to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Eventually he joined the Fascists and soon became a secretary of a local fascist section. As World War I broke out and Italy declared its neutrality, Balbo supported joining the war on the side of the allies. Once Italy entered the war in 1915, Balbo joined the Italian Royal Army and served in the 8th Alpine Regiment.
He earned one bronze and two silver medals and reached the rank of Captain due to courage under fire. At the time of the Italian declaration of war on 10-06-1940, Balbo was the Governor-General of Libya and Commander in Chief of Italian North Africa. He received the same great honors upon his return. In Rome, he and his airmen paraded under Constantine’s Arch and Balbo was elevated to the rank of Air Marshal. It was at this moment that his political decline began. Mussolini and other VIPs in the Party most likely envied his achievements and his popularity, especially among young people; perhaps they were annoyed by his rough manners and irreverence. All of the above may be some of the reasons why he was sent to Libya as Governor in Jan. 1934. He also possessed an “unconventional” behavior. In fact, he shook hands instead of giving the expected Roman (fascist) salute and used the term “lei” instead of the prescribed “voi”. A little while after Hitler’s visit to Italy , he invited the Podestà (Mayor), Renzo Ravenna , a Jew to dinner at a famous restaurant in Ferrara, in which Hitler also attended. Ravenna died age 68 on 29-10-1961 in Ferrera. In Africa, Balbo led a well-off life. He ordered the construction of a coast road that he pompously called “Balbia”, and did a lot to welcome the Italian families that tried to escape poverty by moving to the “Fourth shore”. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, Balbo visited Rome to express his displeasure of the fact that Mussolini supported Adolf Hitler (did you know). He suggested that Italy would side with Britain but attracted little following. In Libya he continued to lead air patrols over North Africa. He became responsible for planning an invasion of Egypt. After the surrender of France, Balbo was able to shift much of the men and material of the Italian 5th Army under General Pietro Frugoni on the Tunesian border to the 10th Army on the Egyptian border. While he had expressed many legitimate concerns to Mussolini and to Marshal Pietro Badoglio , the Chief of Staff in Rome.
Death and burial ground of Balbo, Italo.
On 28-06-1940, while landing on the Italian airfield of Tobruk, a few minutes after a British air attack, Balbo was shot down by Italian gunners and killed at the age of 44.
Balbo was a danger for Il Duce, cause he was the only fascist leader who could be the head of a victorious conspirator to get rid of Mussolini. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth about Balbo’s death, but we must agree that his accident or murdering was very, very useful for Mussolini.
Italo Balbo’s remains were buried outside Tripoli on 04-07-1940. In 1970, Balbo’s remains were brought back to Italy and buried in Orbetello with Balbo’s family, after Muammar al Gaddafi threatened to disinter the Italian cemeteries in Tripoli.