A Dubious Distinction
The Italian battleship Conte di Cavour possesses one of the most unique – and dubious – distinctions in naval history.
Originally completed as a 23,000 ton, 21½ knot ship armed with thirteen 12-inch guns in 1915, the ship was extensively reconstructed between 1933 and 1937, emerging as a 28,000 ton, 28 knot vessel armed with ten 12.8-inch guns. The extent of the reconstruction, which totally changed the ships appearance, was arguably a unique distinction in itself, albeit on shared by her sister Giulio Cesare and the somewhat similar Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio. But what was really unique about Conte di Cavour was that she was sunk three times.
On the night of November 11, 1940, Conte di Cavour was in company with several other Italian battleships in Taranto Harbor, on the instep of the Italian boot, when a squadron of Royal Navy Swordfish torpedo bombers off HMS Illustrious put a fish into her, causing her to settle on the bottom of the shallow anchorage. She was shortly raised, and towed to Trieste, where repairs were begun. These dragged on for nearly two years. Then, on the night of September 9, 1943, Italy having concluded an armistice with the Allies, Conte di Cavour was scuttled in shallow water to prevent her capture by the Germans. The Germans seized the sunk vessel, raised her, and commenced desultory repairs. These were not yet completed when American heavy bombers once again sank her, on February 15, 1945.
Amazingly, in 1946 Conte di Cavour was raised once again, shortly to be towed to a breaker’s yard, and there scrapped.
Thus, Conte di Cavour has the dubious distinction of being the only battleship that was not only sunk three times, but also salvaged three times.
Bat in the Honorable East India Company’s Army, 1805-1834
The status of Britain’s Honorable East India Company Army was considerably lower than that of the King’s army. As a result, “John Company” had to offer substantial perks in order to attract officers. These included bat – or batta – a sort of field pay. Introduced during the late eighteenth century, bat came in two classes, depending upon the relative hardships which an officer had to endure.
|Officers’ Monthly Pay, The Honorable East India Company|
|Rank||Base Pay||Half Bat||Full Bat|
|Lieutenant Colonel|| 25 10s|| 73 16s|| 91 16s|
|Major|| 24|| 57 3s|| 70 4s|
|Captain|| 17 2s 5d|| 33 8s|| 36 18s|
|Lieutenant|| 9 15s|| 20 3s|| 22 10s|
|Ensign|| 7 12s 5d|| 16 4d|| 18 |
Some notion of how much these sums were worth may be gained by recalling that in about this period one of Charles Dickens’ characters considered an annual income of £20 sufficient to maintain a family in reasonably modest, albeit polite circumstances. So the base pay of a lowly ensign in the Indian Army was considerably higher than that, even without bat, whether at the full or the half rate, a great inducement to men of modest means but great aspirations.