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War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943 (Hardback)

WWII Maritime Military

By Bernard Ireland
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781844150472
Published: 22nd July 2003
Last Released: 1st August 2007

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For 1,000 days the Allied and Axis armies fought for the domination of the North African shores knowing that defeat would bring disastrous consequences. Much has been written about the conduct of the land battles and the commanders who faced each other yet, as the main protagonists realised at the time, success or failure rested on the effectiveness of their seaborne supply chain. Control of the Mediterranean was therefore absolutely crucial. In the final analysis it was the Allies' ability to dominate the Mediterranean that bought them victory but there is no denying that it was a 'damned close run thing'. In this authoritative study, Bernard Ireland brings a fresh clarity to the complexities and factors at play during this critical period.

First published in 1993 and reprinted in 2004 The War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943 was issued last year and deserves a place on the shelves of today’s politicians and geopoliticians as well as the historians and the general readers. In reading one soon realises the importance of the Suez Canal not only as a strategic imperial route in, and before the Second World War, but for the benefits it bestows on the world economy now. In the War the Cape Route was paramount in support of the war in the Mediterranean.

Much has been written about the conduct of the land battles and the commanders who faced one another in the North African campaign and those in Greece and later Italy and the defence of Malta. The main protagonists realised at the time, success or failure rested on the effectiveness of their seaborne supply chain. Control of the Mediterranean was therefore absolutely crucial.

In this authoritative study, Bernard Ireland brings a fresh clarity to the complexities and factors at play during this critical period when for 1,000 days the Allied and Axis armies fought for the domination of the North African shores knowing that defeat would bring disastrous consequences. Three valuable maps are provided showing the Mediterranean theatre, the Western Desert of Egypt and Libya and of Tunisia.
In the final analysis it was the Allies’ ability to dominate the Mediterranean that bought them victory but there is no denying that it was regarded as a ‘damned close run thing.’ Here, Bernard Ireland over twelve chapters with an introduction, chronicles the war from the situation existing in June 1940 to the time the Axis war machine was forced to leave Tunisia for Sicily and eventually mainland Europe and the homeland, heimat, with the Allies in pursuit and at the same time planning invasion from France, north and south, some incredible staff work being needed. Ireland’s introduction sets the scene admirably with regard to the political and military standpoints from the 1930s.

Bernard Ireland had an extensive career with the Royal Naval Scientific Service and much of his expertise in ship research and a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge is apparent in this book and in his other titles.

One reviewer commented that The War in the Mediterranean is one of the best, if not the best, books he had read on this subject. This well- researched and highly recommended book provides a valuable reminder that inter-service and indeed Allied cooperation is vital if any campaign is to achieve its aims.

Africa Ports & Ships - 05 Jan. 22

"The author had an extensive career with the Royal Navy and brings his expertise to bear in this new book. The narrative switched smoothly from the strategic down to the tactical level as he describes the various actions the Mediterranean played host to during the war."

WWII History Magazine - February 2022

This book is in my humble opinion one of the best, if not the best, book I have read on this subject.

The subject matter makes it inevitable that the contents are predominantly with regard to the Royal Navy and the army though the contribution made by the RAF isn’t forgotten.

The author makes it clear that without a consistent supply chain to the allies and the denial of one to the Axis the battle for North Africa may not have been won. Additionally, the defence of the island of Malta played a crucial part.

However the book isn’t just about battles and supplies as the author details the strategy deployed by the military leaders of both sides and their strengths & weaknesses. He shows that many Generals under Montgomery and Rommel played significant roles that maybe hasn’t been given the prominence deserved in other publication.

Bernard Ireland has written the book in a style which almost made the story read like a day by day, blow by blow record of the way to victory in the Mediterranean.

Superbly researched, a must read for all who are interested in this section of WWII.

The Ton Class Association

This highly recommended work is valuable reminder that co-operation with each fighting and support arm is vital if war fighting is to be ultimately successful.

Martin Willoughby, Chairman of the Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

As reviewed in

Canadian Army Journal

As reviewed in

Greenwich Maritime Institute
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