Coming Home: The repatriation case of Carlo Acefalo

A mission to recover, identify, and repatriate the remains of Petty Officer Carlo Acefalo, in collaboration with Ricardo Preve, Argentine film director.

Keywords: Human Identification, Forensic Anthropology, Repatriation, Human Rights, Missing in Action

Research Outline

The recovery, identification and repatriation of human remains related to war crimes, human rights violations and casualties from WWII is an important aspect of forensic anthropology. As time passes, success stories of repatriated individuals can be rare, but among them lies the case of the Italian sailor Carlo Acefalo. At the age of 24, Carlo Acefalo was a Petty Officer on the submarine “Macalle”. After the crew were poisoned by methyl chloride due to a fault in the air conditioning system, the submarine ran aground on the island of Barra Musa Khebir (Sudan – Red Sea) in June 1940. All 45 crew members made it ashore alive, and three of them rowed nearly 200 nautical miles in the submarine dinghy to then Italian Eritrea, to raise the alarm. Due to the extreme conditions on the island, Carlo Acefalo died of starvation and poisoning; he was buried by his crew-mates in a shallow grave in the sand. A mission to recover, identify and repatriate the remains of Carlo Acefalo was organized in collaboration with Ricardo Preve, Argentine film director, in 2017. Following the documentation of this significant repatriation case, the remains of Acefalo were finally laid to rest in his hometown of Acefalo in the 24th November 2018.

Matteo Borrini at the grave site of Petty Officer Carlo Acefalo


Tornando a casa: Coming Home, a film


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