Six Victories: North Africa, Malta, and the Mediterranean Convoy War: November 1941-March 1942
'SIX VICTORIES' relates one of the most interesting and instructive naval campaigns of World War II: the Mediterranean war on traffic in the fall and winter of 1941-42. It is a cautionary tale of how sea power was practiced, and how it literally shifted 180 degrees overnight. The book is based on... show more
'SIX VICTORIES' relates one of the most interesting and instructive naval campaigns of World War II: the Mediterranean war on traffic in the fall and winter of 1941-42. It is a cautionary tale of how sea power was practiced, and how it literally shifted 180 degrees overnight. The book is based on British and Italian archival sources. It emphasizes strategic context, the role of intelligence, and the campaign's logistics. It is well-paced and entertaining but also authoritative. The book's conclusions are controversial but based on compelling evidence.
In October 1941 the British Admiralty based a surface strike force in Malta to attack Axis sea lanes between Italy and Africa. Aided by ULTRA intelligence, submarines and bombers based in Malta, this force dominated the Central Mediterranean. From the end of October through the middle of December 1941 less than third of the supplies shipped from Italian ports arrived in Libya. Shortages of ammunition and fuel finally compelled the Afrika Korps to retreat four hundred miles. Then, in the space of thirty hours, this all changed. First, Italian naval forces broke the blockade by fighting through a major convoy that arrived in time to blunt the British advance; next, the strike force plowed into a minefield laid by Italian cruisers; and finally, in a daring attack, Italian commandos crippled the Mediterranean Fleet's battleships in port. The swing in fortune was immediate and dramatic.
'Six Victories' shows how information provided by ULTRA was often offset by the Italian ability to read British codes and take corrective actions even as British strikes forces were approaching their target. It examines how the Italians improved the protection of their traffic and how, in conjunction with Germany, came to dominate the Central Mediterranean and isolate Malta. The book the ends with the triumph of Axis sea power as expressed in the late March 1942 Second Battle of Sirte which initiated a period of Axis domination in the Central Mediterranean.
'Six Victories' breaks new ground in the historiography of World War II. It relates lessons that are relevant today and should be required reading for all who practice the art of power at sea as well as those who want to understand the intricate and interrelated factors that are the foundations of military success. It is also a good and compelling story.
Publish date: 2019-10-15
Publisher: U.S. Naval Institute Press
Pages no: 322
Edition language: English