Chariots of War

Chariots of War details a remarkable and little known facet of naval history.

Chariots of War by Robert Hobson


Chariots Of WarInvented in 1935 by two Italian naval engineers, the small submersible, (often nicknamed the ‘Human-Torpedo’ or ‘Chariot’) did not see active service until the Second World War.

A series of attacks were made by the Italian Navy against British vessels anchored at various Mediterranean ports. The Italian objective was to reduce the superior power of the British fleet, and in turn gain control of the Mediterranean.

In December 1941 three Italian ‘Chariots’ entered Alexandria Harbour; they sunk a British tanker, and seriously damaged the battleships, Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was a Midshipman aboard the Valiant but miraculously had to leave the ship just prior to the attack.

The Italian success resulted in increased security at all British held, Mediterranean ports. Additionally, Prime Minister Winston Churchill immediately instructed the Admiralty to form a British, ‘human-torpedo’ unit.

With the armistice between Britain and Italy, members of the Italian ‘human-torpedo’ teams had been split. Some members remained loyal to Mussolini and continued to fight alongside the Germans. Others, declared allegiance to their King and vowed to fight with the British. As would be expected, both the Italians and British remained suspicious of each other although technically they were now on the same side.

On April 18th 1944; after the British had had some success with their ‘secret weapon’; the Admiralty issued an official press release detailing their ‘secret weapon’ – the following day, the ‘human-torpedo’ featured on the front page of every newspaper throughout Britain and an exhibition was mounted at Harrods Store in Knightsbridge. The ‘human-torpedo’ and the exploits of the exceptional band of men that operated them was at last in the public domain.


How to Order


Obtainable through all good bookshops or through this company an autographed copy.

Cheques made payable to R.W. Hobson for £34.45 (£29.95 book plus £4.50 postage and packing) and send to 6 Aycliffe Close, Bromley Kent BR1 2LX

Order Online

Coming soon




‘The author deserves great credit… a fitting tribute to a group of quite exceptionally brave men.’

‘Chariots of War is a fascinating book, and I am delighted to have played a part in helping Robert Hobson to create the largest human torpedo display in the world at Eden Camp.’
STAN JOHNSON M.B.E. Founder of the Eden Camp Museum Yorkshire England

‘This incredible book details a fascinating and important aspect of Italian and British naval history during World War II… we readily introduced the author to surviving Italian operators.’
ADMIRAL C. BETTINI Italian Naval Attache Rome Italy

‘These underwater weapons were built by my father’s factory in Milan, and declared ‘secret weapons’ by the Italian Navy. Today my family extend our full support to the author in his quest to preserve this important and little-known facet of naval history.’

‘When Robert Hobson, the son of my Commanding Officer first contacted me in 1990, I was not filled with enthusiasm to create a human torpedo display, or inform him of my wartime experiences. After some discussion, my wartime friend Geoffrey Larkin and I agreed to accompany Robert Hobson and scour England for human torpedoes. Our adventures took us all over the country, culminating in the most spectacular human torpedo display at the Eden Camp Museum, and the publication of Chariots of War. There are many photographs and documents in the book which I had not seen for over sixty years, so our story has not been lost in the mist of time, but resurrected for future generations.’
LEN BEREY D.S.M. Former British Charioteer

‘This book tells the story of a revolutionary underwater weapon conceived by two Italian naval engineers in 1935. It is quite remarkable that the details of these ‘secret weapons’ and the wartime exploits of both the British and Italian Navy are now preserved and united here in one book.’
GINO BIRINDELLI Former Underwater Pilot

Join the Trust

We're a registered charity and our membership is free