For three millennia the Mediterranean Sea served as the centre of western civilization and the scene of many colossal wars and naval battles. In the early summer of 1940, this ancient body of water again played host to a new and extensive conflict as the Kingdom of Italy challenged Britain for dominance within the region. With France on the verge of collapse and Britain facing the prospect of imminent invasion, the Italians hoped to re-establish control over the Mediterranean. The only thing standing in their way was the heavily outnumbered British Mediterranean Fleet and the equally outnumbered British ground and air forces present in the region. Together, these forces would determine whether the Mediterranean reverted back to Italian control or whether the Allies would prevail and retain supremacy over this great body of water for themselves.
This book tells the story of this epic struggle. This was a prolonged and colossal conflict waged at differing times against the combined forces of Italy, Germany and Vichy France over a wide area stretching from the coastal waters of Southern Europe in the north to Madagascar in the south and Africa’s Atlantic coast in the west to the Persian Gulf in the east. Utilizing a variety of weapons including surface warships, submarines, and aircraft along with sizable merchant fleets, the British and their subsequent American partners maintained vital seaborne lines of communication, conducted numerous amphibious landings, interdicted Axis supply activities and eventually eliminated all semblances of Axis maritime power within the theatre. In turn, these actions facilitated multiple Allied victories that helped secure the defeat of the European Axis. 32 Illustrations.