Carmelo Borg Pisani

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Carmelo Borg Pisani
Allegiance  Kingdom of Italy
Service SIM
Active 1941–1942
Award(s) Gold Medal of Military Valour

Born (1914-08-10)10 August 1914
Senglea, Malta
Died 28 November 1942(1942-11-28) (aged 27)
Paola, Malta
Cause of
Execution by hanging
Nationality Maltese Italian
Religion Roman Catholic

Carmelo Borg Pisani (10 August 1914 – 28 November 1942) was a Maltese-born artist and Italian Fascist who, on being discovered during an espionage mission in Malta, was found guilty by a British war tribunal and executed for alleged treason.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born into a very well respected Maltese family in Senglea, Pisani enrolled as a student at the Umberto Primo art lyceum, where he won a scholarship to study in Rome. In Italy he showed support for fascism and Italian irredentism.

When war was declared on 10 June 1940, Pisani was still attending the Accademia di Belle Arti ("Academy of Fine Arts") in Rome. Other prominent Maltese artist such as Emvin Cremona were also attending the same school along with Borg Pisani at the time.

During World War II[edit]

Pisani believed that Malta's Latin soul was being destroyed by British rule. He also believed that the best opportunity to restore Malta to its original state was to expel the British and unite the island to the kingdom of Italy. To this end, Pisani, along with many other Maltese students in Italy, joined the National Fascist Party. After the outbreak of the war, he volunteered for service in the Italian army, but was refused because he was myopic. This led him to join the MVSN (Blackshirts).

He decided to obtain Italian citizenship in 1940 and give up his British citizenship. He returned the British passport through the American embassy in Rome. He participated in the Italian occupation of Kefallinia in Greece with the Compagnia Speciale del Gruppo CC.NN. da sbarco della 50a Legione. He joined also the SIM (Servizio Informazioni Militari, i.e. Military Intelligence Service)

On 18 May 1942 Pisani volunteered for an espionage mission to Malta, to help prepare for the planned Axis invasion of the island (Operation Herkules). Pisani disembarked at the Dingli Cliffs in Ras id-Dawwara, and transferred all his rations to a cave, which he knew well from his youth. Unusually inclement weather and a rough sea, however, washed all his possessions away within 48 hours and he was forced to wave down a British patrol boat. Upon rescue, he was brought to RNH Mtarfa, the naval hospital at Mtarfa.

There, Pisani was recognized by one of his childhood friends, Cpt. Tom Warrington. He was transferred to Corradino prison, interrogated, and accused of treason. On 12 November 1942 he stood trial. His plea, that he had renounced British citizenship and passport on his acquisition of Italian citizenship was not upheld by the military court. On 19 November 1942 he was sentenced to death for conspiring against His Majesty's government and for alleged "treason". His execution followed nine days later.

Borg Pisani was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor, the highest Italian military award, by King Victor Emmanuel III a few days after his death.[2] Requests have been made by his family and the Italian government to exhume his body and give it a burial outside prison grounds, which request has never been acceded to.

Benito Mussolini called him a "Maltese Martyr" and created in his honor in Liguria the "Battaglione Borg Pisani" in November 1943, in which other Maltese irredentists fought.


Norman Lowell, the leader of the far-right political party Imperium Europa, is known to be a staunch supporter and admirer of Carmelo Borg Pisani. He is known for the quotes "Carmelo Borg Pisani, presente!" and "Onore għal Carmelo Borg Pisani!" during a tribute to him in an interview on One.[3]

In 2009 an Italian winery named a new wine after Borg Pisani.[4]

Italian historian Vignoli wrote that Pisani is to be considered one of the last Italian "Risorgimento" martyrs of the Italian Terre irredente, like Cesare Battisti and Nazario Sauro.[5]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ The language question. p. 5.
  2. ^ Italian Republic official list and motivation
  3. ^ "Norman Lowell's tribute to Carmelo Borg Pisani". YouTube. 2007-02-07. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  4. ^ "Wine named Carmelo Borg Pisani". Times of Malta. 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2013-07-09. 
  5. ^ Vignoli. "Gli Italiani dimenticati. Minoranze italiane in Europa". Section: Malta


  • L. Mizzi. Per il sogno della sua vita Volpe ed. Roma, 1981.
  • G. Vignoli. Gli Italiani dimenticati. Minoranze italiane in Europa Giuffré ed. Milano, 2000.
  • L. Mizzi. Il-Kaz Borg Pisani. Sittin sena Wara, PEG publications. Valletta, 2003.
  • S. Fabei. Carmelo Borg Pisani (1915–1942) - eroe o traditore? Lo Scarabeo ed. Bologna, 2007.

External links[edit]