The author makes some strong claims for the importance of the Mediterranean during WWII and the book is presented as steamrolling the chauvinism and common knowledge of previous histories of this part of the world conflict. The text is supported by b&w plates, maps charts and sketches. It is a workmanlike history that presents facts and makes assertions.
NAME: Struggle for the Middle Sea
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Vincent )’Hara
BINDING: Hard back
PRICE: GB £20.00
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: Mediterranean, WWII, 1939-1945, strategy, actions, battles, navies, Royal Navy, RN, North Africa
DESCRIPTION: The author makes some strong claims for the importance of the Mediterranean during WWII and the book is presented as steamrolling the chauvinism and common knowledge of previous histories of this part of the world conflict. The text is supported by b&w plates, maps charts and sketches. It is a workmanlike history that presents facts and makes assertions. There is always a thin line between offering a well-argued fresh insight and taking a position to promote a book. The reader will have to decide where this book sits on that line. For the British a failure to prevent German expansion into the Low Countries, France and Central Europe meant inevitably that a line had to be drawn somewhere else. The Mediterranean can be argued to be that line and the point from which the fight back began. How it was seen at the time may be a little different. The Royal Navy reinforced its Mediterranean fleet which was divided between Alexandria and Gibraltar with a small outpost in Malta. The British attack on French Navy vessels in North African ports was inevitable as a consequence of the defeat of France and the uncertainty of the future of those ships. Back in Alexandria there was active discussion between officers of how they might break out of the Mediterranean and head for Canada in the event that the British Isles were invaded and occupied. As long as British naval and land forces were in the Mediterranean, its islands and in North Africa, they blocked the way to the oil of the Middle East and the potential of India. They also tied down German forces because the Italians proved incapable of standing against the British. Having maintained a presence and strengthened it, particularly in maintaining Malta as a point from which to interdict German convoys from Italy to North Africa, a landing in North West Africa became an obvious first landing for British and American troops, if only to clear Africa of German forces and to demonstrate the capabilities in amphibious warfare available to the Allies. For Churchill, a landing in Italy and advance north was attractive because he believed that fast decisive action would clear Italy and reduce pressure on landings in France across the Channel. There are historians who will argue that the Mediterranean activities after the invasion of Crete were a waste of resources for the Allies and that the centre of the war was Germany and its direct defeat. There is evidence that this position is valid because the Germans managed to tie down a large percentage of Allied resources in Italy for relatively small levels of German resource, with success only coming by placing Allied troops on German soil. It can also be argued that Germany missed an opportunity to invade the British Islands, making action elsewhere necessary as a direct result of that failure. Some will claim that the Germans also missed an opportunity to fully occupy France seizing all French military assets and territories outside domestic France, allowing Britain to continue the fight in the Mediterranean. Whatever position a reader may take, this book offers a different point of view and should be considered. It may convert some to its view, whilst others may remain unconvinced.