Battle of Calabria

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BATTLE OF CALABRIA (BATTLE OF PUNTA STILO) - 1940

INTRODUCTION

1.In the history, the Struggle for the Middle Sea describes the naval war fought in the Mediterranean and Red Sea with five great navies that participated:
a.Great Britain’s Royal Navy.
b.Italy’s Regia Marina.
c.France’s Marine Nationale.
d.United States Navy.
e.German Kriegsmarine.

2.It examines the national essential that made the Mediterranean such a vital theater for each of these powers and it analyses their actions and performances over the entire five-year campaign from 1940 to 1945. Particularly in this coverage of naval surface combat during that time is filled with fresh perspectives and same supported by wide-ranging research in Italian and French sources. The book of ‘Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945’ written by Vincent P. O’Hara indicated in the thirteen chapters range from the pre-war situation to France’s defeat, Italy’s parallel war, convoy actions, France’s naval campaign off Syria, the period of Axis domination, the Italian peace agreement and Germany’s war in the Aegean.

3.The meeting of the forces of the Royal Navy and the Regia Marina was the first by the battle fleets of the two belligerents in the Mediterranean in World War ii. It was the result of both Britain and Italy simultaneously sending supplies by convoy to their forces in Egypt and Libya respectively. It took place off Calabria (the toe of Italy), 50 miles east of Punta Stilo, and about 250 south of Taranto.

Figure 1.1: Map of Mediterranean Sea

Source: http://www.landkarten.aridocean.com, Date accessed 27th September 2012

AIM

4.To apprise the audience regarding the Battle of Calabria and its analysis in order to draw salient lessons.

SCHEME OF PRESENTATION

5.The sequence of the presentation is as follows:
* Mediterranean Sea - Strategic Situation
* Military and Maritime Circumstances
* Major Naval Strengths
* Origin of battle
* Conduct of War
* Result and War Losses
* Analysis in the light of Principles of War
* Lessons Learnt
* Conclusion

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - STRATEGIC SITUATION

6.In the western half of the Mediterranean, Britain and France between them controlled Gibraltar at the narrow entrance from the Atlantic, southern France, Corsica, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Malta at the center was a British colony. In the eastern half, Britain maintained a hold on Egypt and the Suez Canal, Palestine and Cyprus. In the Levant, Lebanon and Syria were French. Italy stood astride the central basin, with Italy itself, Sardinia and Sicily to the north and Libya with its provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica to the south. Albania on the Adriatic Sea and the Dodecanese Islands in the southern Aegean off Turkey were Italian. The Neutral countries in the western Mediterranean were Spain, and in the east, Greece and Crete, Yugoslavia and Turkey.

MILITARY AND MARITIME CIRCUMSTANCES

7.Even allied to France, Britain's position in the Mediterranean was not guaranteed. Gibraltar may be secure, assuming Spain's continued neutrality, but Malta was considered indefensible in the face of the Italian Air Force based in Sicily. As it happened only the later arrival of the German Luftwaffe turned this threat into a near reality. However, Malta's well-equipped base had to be abandoned by the Mediterranean Fleet for the poorer facilities at Alexandria in Egypt. A large Italian army in Libya (Tripolitania and Cyrenaica) threatened Alexandria and the Suez Canal, against which only a relatively small British and Dominion force could be fielded. Fortunately this had been reinforced earlier in the year by Australian and New Zealand troops. These threats to Malta and Suez depended on Italy taking and holding the initiative..

8.Malta became a thorn in the side of Axis supply routes to Libya, and Libya...
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