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Encyclopedia > Battle of the Mediterranean
Battle of Mediterranean
Part of World War II

Mediterranean Sea
Date June 10, 1940 - August 17, 1943
Location Mediterranean Sea
Result Allied victory
Combatants
Allied Nations Axis Powers
Mediterranean Campaign
Mers-el-Kebir – CalabriaSpadaTarantoSpartiventoMatapanTarigoCreteDuisburgBon1st Sirte2nd SirteHarpoonPedestalTorch – Skerki – Sicily

The Naval Battle of the Mediterranean was waged during World War II, to attack and keep open the respective supply lines of Allied and Axis armies, and to destroy the opposing side's ability to wage war at sea. Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom France Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Charles de Gaulle Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian... Download high resolution version (1332x792, 335 KB)Shaded relief of the Mediterranean Sea, created in 1982 by the Central Intelligence Agency. ... For the landmasses surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, see Mediterranean Basin. ... June 10 is the 161st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (162nd in leap years), with 204 days remaining. ... Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1943 calendar). ... For the landmasses surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, see Mediterranean Basin. ... In general, allies are people or groups that have joined an alliance and are working together to achieve some common purpose. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Combatants United Kingdom France Commanders James Somerville Marcel-Bruno Gensoul Strength 1 carrier 3 battleships 2 light cruisers 11 destroyers 4 battleships 6 destroyers 1 seaplane tender Casualties None 1 battleship sunk 2 battleships badly damaged 1 destroyer damaged, 1,297 killed The destruction of the French Fleet at Mers... The Battle of Calabria, also known as the Battle of Punta Stilo, was a naval battle between ships of Italian Regia Marina on one side and the British Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy on the other. ... The battle of Cape Spada was a naval battle of World War II fought in the Mediterranean off Cape Spada, the north-western extremity of Crete on 19 July 1940. ... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders Lumley Lyster Inigo Campioni Strength 21 bombers 6 battleships Casualties 2 bombers destroyed 1 battleship sunk 2 battleships damaged 1 cruiser damaged The naval Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11 November – 12 November 1840 during World War II. The Royal Navy... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders James Somerville Inigo Camponi Strength 1 carrier 1 battleships 1 battlecruiser 1 heavy cruiser 5 light cruisers 1 anti aircraft cruiser 4 destroyers 4 corvettes 4 freighters 2 battleships 6 heavy cruisers 14 destroyers Casualties 1 heavy cruiser damaged 1 destroyer damaged The Battle of... Combatants United Kingdom, Australia Italy Commanders Andrew Cunningham Angelo Iachino Strength 1 carrier 3 battleships 7 light cruisers 17 destroyers 1 battleship 6 heavy cruisers 2 light cruisers 17 destroyers Casualties 1 torpedo plane destroyed 1 battleship damaged 3 cruisers sunk 2 destroyers sunk The Battle of Cape Matapan was... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders Captain P J Mack Captain Pietro de Cristofaro Strength 4 destroyers 3 destroyers Casualties 1 destroyer sunk 41 killed 3 destroyers sunk 5 merchant ships sunk 1800+ men lost The Battle of the Tarigo Convoy (sometimes referred to as the Action off Sfax) was fought... Combatants Greece United Kingdom New Zealand Australia Germany Italy Commanders Bernard Freyberg Kurt Student Strength United Kingdom: 15,000 Greece: 11,000 Australia: 7,100 New Zealand: 6,700 Total: 40,000 (10,000 without fighting capability. ... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders Captain W.G Agnew Captain Ugo Bisciani Strength 2 light cruisers 2 destroyers 2 heavy cruisers 10 destroyers Casualties none? 2 destroyers sunk, 5 merchant ships sunk, ?? lost The Battle of the Duisburg Convoy was fought on the night of 8-9 November 1941 between... The Battle of Cape Bon was a Second World War naval action off Cape Bon, Tunisia. ... Combatants United Kingdom Australia Netherlands Italy Commanders Andrew Cunningham Angelo Iachino Strength 6 light cruisers 10 destroyers 4 battleships 2 heavy cruisers 3 light cruisers 19 destroyers 1 torpedo boat Casualties 1 light cruiser sunk 1 destroyer sunk 2 destroyers damaged 767 killed None ? The First Battle of Sirte was... The Second Battle of Sirte was a naval battle between the Royal Navy and the Regia Marina during the World War II. It took place on 22 March 1942, in the Mediterranean, north to the Gulf of Sirte, west of Malta. ... In World War II, Operation Harpoon was one of two simultaneous Allied convoys sent to supply Malta in the Axis-dominated Mediterranean Sea in mid-June 1942. ... British shells fall astern of the Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo during the battle Operation Pedestal was a British attempt to get vital supplies to the island of Malta during World War II in mid-1942 during the height of the Axis siege of Malta. ... Combatants United States United Kingdom Free French Forces Germany Vichy France Commanders Dwight Eisenhower Andrew Cunningham Erwin Rommel François Darlan Strength 73,500 - Casualties 479+ dead 720 wounded 1346+ dead 1997 wounded Operation TORCH (initially called Operation GYMNAST) was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World... Combatants United States United Kingdom Canada Germany Italy Commanders Harold Alexander Alfredo Guzzoni Strength 160,000 men 14,000 vehicles 600 tanks 1,800 guns 365,000 Italians 40,000Germans Casualties USA: 2,237 killed 6,544 wounded British: 2,721 killed 10,122 wounded Canada: 562 killed 1,848... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom France Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Charles de Gaulle Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian... Look up ally in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Outside of the Pacific War battles, the Mediterranean saw the largest conventional naval warfare during WWII. In particular, Allied forces struggled to supply and retain the key naval and air base of Malta. Combatants Republic of China U.S.A. (from 1941) U.K. (from 1941) Australia (1941) Netherlands (1941) New Zealand (1941) Canada (1941) U.S.S.R. (from 1945) Empire of Japan Commanders Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin (from 1945) Hideki Tojo The Pacific War was...

Contents

Italy's declaration of war

On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France. The following day, Italian bombers attacked Malta, the first of many raids. During this time, the French navy shelled some Italian towns on the east coast. When France surrendered on June 24, the Axis leaders permitted the new Vichy French regime to retain its naval forces. June 10 is the 161st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (162nd in leap years), with 204 days remaining. ... Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... June 24 is the 175th day of the year (176th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 190 days remaining. ... Vichy France (French: now called Régime de Vichy or Vichy; called itself at the time État Français, or French State) was the French state of 1940-1944 which was a puppet government under Nazi influence, as opposed to the Free French Forces, based first in London and later...


The French Mediterranean Fleet

After to the Germans in 1940, the French navy in the Mediterranean was considered a potentially grave threat to the Royal Navy by the British, so it was imperative for them that this threat was neutralised. The French squadron at Alexandria in Egypt was dealt with via negotiations, mainly because the two commanders, Admirals Godfroy and Cunningham, were on good personal terms. British terms - an ultimatum - to place the bulk of the French Fleet, at Mers-el-Kebir in North Africa, out of German reach were refused, and so it was largely destroyed by bombardment on July 3, 1940 by the British Force H from Gibraltar (Admiral Somerville). The Vichy French government broke off all ties with the British as a result. See Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... Alexandria Modern Alexandria. ... Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham Bronze bust of Lord Cunningham, looking at Nelsons column and Whitehall Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope (7 January 1883–12 June 1963), familiarly known as ABC, was a famous British admiral of World War II, winning distinction in... Mers-el-Kebir is a town in northwestern Algeria, located by the Mediterranean Sea near Oran, in the Oran Province. ... July 3 is the 184th day of the year (185th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 181 days remaining. ... Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... Force H was a British naval squadron during World War II. It was formed in 1940 to replace French naval power in the western Mediterranean that had been removed by the French armistice with Nazi Germany. ... Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Fownes Somerville, GCB GBE DSO, (17 July 1882 – 19 March 1949) was one of the most famous British Admirals of World War II. // The son of Arthur Fownes Somerville (1850-1942, who appears to have spent some time farming sheep in New Zealand), James... Combatants United Kingdom France Commanders James Somerville Marcel-Bruno Gensoul Strength 3 battleships, 1 carrier, 2 cruisers, 11 destroyers 4 battleships, 6 destroyers, 1 seaplane tender Casualties — 1 battleship sunk 2 battleships damaged 1,297 killed The Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, French North Africa (now...


As part of the occupation of Vichy France in 1942 (Case Anton}, the Germans intended to capture the French fleet at Toulon. This was thwarted by determined action by French commanders and the bulk of the fleet was scuttled at anchor. For other uses, see Vichy (disambiguation). ... Case (or operation) Anton was the code-name for the Nazi-German occupation of Vichy France during World War II. Anton was invoked at Hitlers order after the allied landings in French Morocco (Operation Torch) in November 1942. ... Panorama of Toulon area Satellite view Coat of Arms of Toulon view of Toulon harbour around 1750, by Joseph Vernet. ...


Battle of Taranto

Main article: Battle of Taranto Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders Lumley Lyster Inigo Campioni Strength 21 bombers 6 battleships Casualties 2 bombers destroyed 1 battleship sunk 2 battleships damaged 1 cruiser damaged The naval Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11 November – 12 November 1840 during World War II. The Royal Navy...


To reduce the threat posed by the Italian fleet based in the port of Taranto to convoys sailing to Malta, Admiral Cunningham organised an attack code-named Operation Judgement. Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers from HMS Illustrious attacked the Italian fleet while it was still at anchor. This was the first time in history that an attack such as this had been attempted. It was a great success and on November 11, 1940, the Royal Navy crippled or destroyed three Italian battleships in the Battle of Taranto. This decisive Allied victory forced the Italian fleet to Italian ports further north so as to be out of range of attack by carrier-based aircraft. This reduced the threat of Italian sallies to attacking Malta bound convoys. The Italian Regia Marina (literally: Royal Navy) dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 after Italian unification. ... Founded 706 BC as Taras () Region Apulia Mayor Rossana Di Bello Area  - City Proper  217 km² Population  - City (2001)  - Density (city proper) 201,349 973/km² Time zone CET, UTC+1 Latitude Longitude 40°28 N 17°14 E www. ... Battle of Taranto Conflict World War II Date November 12, 1940 Place Taranto, Italy Result Allied victory The Battle of Taranto was a naval battle that occurred on the night of 11 – November 12, 1940 during World War II. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft naval battle... Fairey Swordfish The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the... A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with torpedoes, but they could also carry out conventional bombings. ... The fourth HMS Illustrious (R87) of the Royal Navy was an aircraft carrier, arguably the one with the most distinguished and vital career of this proud lineage. ... November 11 is the 315th day of the year (316th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 50 days remaining. ... Year 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... This article is about a battleship as a type of warship. ... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders Lumley Lyster Inigo Campioni Strength 21 bombers 6 battleships Casualties 2 bombers destroyed 1 battleship sunk 2 battleships damaged 1 cruiser damaged The naval Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11 November – 12 November 1840 during World War II. The Royal Navy...


The Battle of Matapan

Main article: Battle of Cape Matapan Combatants United Kingdom, Australia Italy Commanders Andrew Cunningham Angelo Iachino Strength 1 carrier 3 battleships 7 light cruisers 17 destroyers 1 battleship 6 heavy cruisers 2 light cruisers 17 destroyers Casualties 1 torpedo plane destroyed 1 battleship damaged 3 cruisers sunk 2 destroyers sunk The Battle of Cape Matapan was...


The Battle of Cape Matapan was a decisive Allied victory, fought off the coast of the Peloponnese in southern Greece from March 27 to March 29, 1941 in which British Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy forces under the command of the British Admiral Andrew Cunningham intercepted those of the Italian Regia Marina, under Admiral Angelo Iachino. The Peloponnese or Peloponnesus (Greek: Πελοπόννησος Peloponnesos; see also List of traditional Greek place names) is a large peninsula in southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth. ... March 27 is the 86th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (87th in leap years). ... March 29 is the 88th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (89th in leap years). ... For the movie, see 1941 (film). ... The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. ... Bronze bust of Lord Cunningham, looking at Nelsons column and Whitehall Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope (7 January 1883 - 12 June 1963), familiarly known as ABC, was the most famous British admiral of World War II, winning distinction in Mediterranean battles in 1940 and 1941, then... The Italian Regia Marina (literally: Royal Navy) dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 after Italian unification. ... Angelo Iachino was the Italian navy commander during the Battle of Cape Matapan. ...


The Allies sank the heavy cruisers Fiume, Zara and Pola and the destroyers Vittorio Alfieri and Giosue Carducci, and damaged the battleship Vittorio Veneto. The British lost one torpedo plane and suffered light damage to some ships. The term heavy cruiser is used to refer to large cruisers, a form of warship. ... Zara was an Italian Zara class heavy cruiser, which served in the Regia Marina during World War II. Her keel was laid down 1928 at , La Spezia; she was launched on 27 April 1930, and her construction was completed in 1931. ... USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet or battle group and defend them against smaller, short-range attackers (originally torpedo boats, later submarines and aircraft). ... For other uses, see Battleship (disambiguation). ... Vittorio Veneto was an Italian Vittorio Veneto class battleship, that served in the Regia Marina during the World War II. Her keel was laid down 1934 at Cantieri Riuniti dellAdriatico, Trieste; she was launched on 25 July 1937, and her construction was completed in 1940, after Italy entered in...


Decisive factors were the use of Ultra intercepts and the lack of radar on the Italian ships. Ultra (sometimes capitalized ULTRA) was the name used by the British for intelligence resulting from decryption of German communications in World War II. The term eventually became the standard designation in both Britain and the United States for all intelligence from high-level cryptanalytic sources. ...


Crete

Main article: Battle of Crete Combatants Greece United Kingdom New Zealand Australia Germany Italy Commanders Bernard Freyberg Kurt Student Strength United Kingdom: 15,000 Greece: 11,000 Australia: 7,100 New Zealand: 6,700 Total: 40,000 (10,000 without fighting capability. ...


The evacuation of Allied land forces after their defeat by German paratroops in the Battle of Crete during May 1941, cost the Allied navies a number of ships. During the evacuation, Cunningham was determined that the "navy must not let the army down". When army generals stated their fears that he would lose too many ships Cunningham said that "It takes three years to build a ship, it takes three centuries to build a tradition". The Battle of Crete, although a loss, took a fearful toll of Hitler's elite paratroops. So heavy were the losses that General Kurt Student, who commanded the German invasion would later say "Crete was the grave of the German parachutists." Kurt Student Kurt Student (May 12, 1890-July 1, 1978) was a German Luftwaffe General who fought as a pilot on the Eastern Front during the First World War and as the commander of the German parachute troops during the Second World War. ...


Malta

Main articles: Siege of Malta (1940) & Malta Convoys The Island of Malta The Siege of Malta was a significant military event in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II that occurred between 1940 and 1943 on the island of Malta. ... The Malta Convoys were a series of supply convoys to sustain the Mediterranean island of Malta during World War 2. ...


Malta's position between Sicily and North Africa was perfect to interdict Axis supply convoys destined for North Africa. It could thus influence the campaign in North Africa and support Allied actions against Italy. The Axis recognised this and made great efforts to neutralise it as a British base, either by air attacks or by starving it of its own supplies. Sicily (Sicilia in Italian, Latin, Sicilian and Spanish, Σικελία in Greek) is an autonomous region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 25,700 km² and 5 million inhabitants. ...


For a time during the Siege of Malta it looked as if Malta would be starved into submission by the use of Axis aircraft and warships based in Sicily, Sardinia, Crete and North Africa. A number of Allied convoys were decimated. The turning point in the siege came in August 1942, when the British sent a very heavily defended convoy codenamed Pedestal. Malta's air defence was repeatedly reinforced by Hurricane and Spitfire fighters flown off to the island by HMS Furious and other Allied aircraft carriers. The situation eased as Axis forces were forced away from their North African bases and eventually Malta could be resupplied and become an offensive base again. The Island of Malta The Siege of Malta was a significant military event in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II that occurred between 1940 and 1943 on the island of Malta. ... The Malta Convoys were a series of supply convoys to sustain the Mediterranean island of Malta during World War 2. ... British shells fall astern of the Italian light cruiser Muzio Attendolo during the battle Operation Pedestal was a British attempt to get vital supplies to the island of Malta during World War II in mid-1942 during the height of the Axis siege of Malta. ... The Hawker Hurricane is a fighter design from the 1930s which was used extensively by the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain. ... The Supermarine Spitfire was an iconic British single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many Allied countries in the Second World War. ... HMS Furious was a modified Courageous class large light cruiser (an extreme form of battlecruiser) converted into an early aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. ...


The British re-established a credible air garrison and offensive naval base on the island. With the aid of Ultra, Malta's garrison was able to disrupt Axis supplies to North Africa immediately before the Second Battle of El Alamein. For the fortitude and courage of the Maltese during the siege, Malta was awarded the George Cross. Ultra (sometimes capitalized ULTRA) was the name used by the British for intelligence resulting from decryption of German communications in World War II. The term eventually became the standard designation in both Britain and the United States for all intelligence from high-level cryptanalytic sources. ... Combatants British 8th Army German Panzer Army Africa Commanders Bernard Montgomery Erwin Rommel Strength 250,000 men 1,030 tanks 900 guns 530 aircraft 90,000 men 500 tanks 500 guns 350 aircraft Casualties 13,500 dead and wounded 13,000 dead 46,000 wounded or captured The Second Battle... The George Cross (GC) is the highest Commonwealth decoration awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry not in the face of the enemy, while the Victoria Cross is awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. ...


Other actions

There were a series of surface actions (eg, Battle of Punta Stilo, Battle of Cape Spada, Battle of Cape Spartivento, First Battle of Sirte, Second Battle of Sirte, Battle of Cape Bon) between Allied navies and the Regia Marina, during which the British, able to replace losses with warships redeployed from other theatres, gained the upper hand. The Battle of Calabria, also known as the Battle of Punta Stilo, was a naval battle between ships of Italian Regia Marina on one side and the British Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy on the other. ... The battle of Cape Spada was a naval battle of World War II fought in the Mediterranean off Cape Spada, the north-western extremity of Crete on 19 July 1940. ... Combatants United Kingdom Italy Commanders James Somerville Inigo Camponi Strength 1 carrier 1 battleships 1 battlecruiser 1 heavy cruiser 5 light cruisers 1 anti aircraft cruiser 4 destroyers 4 corvettes 4 freighters 2 battleships 6 heavy cruisers 14 destroyers Casualties 1 heavy cruiser damaged 1 destroyer damaged The Battle of... Combatants United Kingdom Australia Netherlands Italy Commanders Andrew Cunningham Angelo Iachino Strength 6 light cruisers 10 destroyers 4 battleships 2 heavy cruisers 3 light cruisers 19 destroyers 1 torpedo boat Casualties 1 light cruiser sunk 1 destroyer sunk 2 destroyers damaged 767 killed None ? The First Battle of Sirte was... The Second Battle of Sirte was a naval battle between the Royal Navy and the Regia Marina during the World War II. It took place on 22 March 1942, in the Mediterranean, north to the Gulf of Sirte, west of Malta. ... The Battle of Cape Bon was a Second World War naval action off Cape Bon, Tunisia. ...


The Italian Navy's most successful attack was when divers planted mines on British battleships in Alexandria harbour (19 December 1941). HMS Queen Elizabeth and Valiant were sunk but later raised and returned to active service. HMS Queen Elizabeth was the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-class of Dreadnought battleships, named in honour of Elizabeth I of England. ... HMS Valiant was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy built at the Fairfield shipyards in Glasgow and launched in November 1914. ...


Major Allied operations


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