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The German Fleet at War, 1939-1945 by Vincent P. O'Hara (Hardcover)
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The German Fleet at War, by Vincent P. O'Hara
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Nicholas van der Bijl. In Passage Perilous. Vincent P. The Bismarck The Great Ships. Peter C. U in Scapa Flow. Red Sky in the Morning. Business in Great Waters. John Terraine. David Wragg. Second U-Boat Flotilla. Even under the best conditions, this restricted supplies. Tripoli was the largest port in Libya and it could accommodate a maximum of five large cargo vessels or four troop transports. Bardia and other smaller ports added a little more. In general, the Axis forces in North Africa exceeded the capacity of the ports to supply them.
If the Italians had a fault in respect to logistics during the Battle of the Mediterranean, it was that they failed to increase the capacity of Tripoli and the other ports before the war. In January , France began a programme of modernisation and expansion. This soon elevated the French Fleet to the fourth-largest in the world.
However, the French Navy formally the "National Navy" — Marine Nationale , was still considerably smaller than the navy of its ally, Britain. By agreement with the British Admiralty, the strongest concentration of French vessels was in the Mediterranean. Here, the Italian Fleet posed a threat to the vitally important French sea routes from metropolitan France to North Africa and to the British sea routes between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal.
As such, it was imperative to the British that this threat be neutralised.
As the opening phase of Operation Catapult , the French squadron at Alexandria in Egypt was dealt-with via negotiations. In contrast, a British ultimatum to place the bulk of the remainder of the French fleet out of German reach was refused. French naval vessels had to be driven off before the Litani River could be crossed. This was thwarted by determined action by French commanders; the bulk of the fleet was scuttled at anchor.
Germany's Kriegsmarine aimed at isolating Gibraltar, Malta, and the Suez Canal so as to break Britain's trade route to the far east. More than 60 U-boats were sent to disrupt shipping in the sea, although many were attacked in the Strait of Gibraltar , which was controlled by Britain nine boats were sunk while attempting the passage and ten more were damaged.
The Luftwaffe also played a key part in the Battle of the Mediterranean, especially during German war strategy, however, viewed the Mediterranean as a secondary theatre of operations. On 10 June , Italy declared war on Britain and France. On the following day, Italian bombers attacked Malta on what was to be the first of many raids. During this time, the Marine Nationale shelled a number of targets on the northwestern coast of Italy , in particular the port of Genoa.
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When France surrendered on 24 June, the Axis leaders allowed the new Vichy French regime to retain its naval forces. The first clash between the rival fleets—the Battle of Calabria —took place on 9 July, just four weeks after the start of hostilities. This was inconclusive, and was followed by a series of small surface actions during the summer, among them the battle of the Espero convoy and the battle of Cape Spada.
To reduce the threat posed by the Italian fleet , which was based in the port of Taranto , to convoys sailing to Malta, Admiral Cunningham organised an attack code-named Operation Judgement. This was the first time that an attack such as this had been attempted and it was studied by Japanese naval officers in preparation for the later attack on Pearl Harbor. British Fleet Air Arm aircraft badly damaged two Italian battleships and a third was sunk putting half of the Regia Marina ' s major ships out of action for several months. This attack also forced the Italian fleet to move to Italian ports further north so as to be out of range of carrier-based aircraft.
This reduced the threat of Italian sallies attacking Malta-bound convoys. Cunningham's estimate that Italians would be unwilling to risk their remaining heavy units was quickly proven wrong. Only five days after Taranto, Inigo Campioni sortied with two battleships, six cruisers and 14 destroyers to disrupt a British aircraft delivery operation to Malta.
Furthermore, as early as 27 November, the Italian fleet was able to confront the Mediterranean fleet again in the indecisive battle of Spartivento. Two of the three damaged battleships were repaired by mid and control of the Mediterranean continued to swing back and forth until the Italian armistice in Measured against its primary task of disrupting Axis convoys to Africa, the Taranto attack had little effect. In fact, Italian shipping to Libya increased between the months of October — January to an average of 49, tons per month, up from the 37,ton average of the previous four months.
The Battle of Cape Matapan was a decisive Allied victory. The British lost one torpedo plane and suffered light splinter damage to some cruisers from Vittorio Veneto ' s salvoes. The decisive factors in the Allied victory were the effectiveness of aircraft carriers, the use of Ultra intercepts and the lack of radar on the Italian ships. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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Nov 14, Sean Chick rated it really liked it. Okay so the prose is dry and you can tell the editor sliced out some key sections but where else can you find out about the English Channel battles? This book is a very good discussion of the range of tasks that Germany's surface fleet performed and the types of surface vessels that the Kriegsmarine employed.
Other books have concentrated on the U-boat campaign and the exploits of its large surface ships such as the Bismarck, the Admiral Graf Spee, and the Scharnhorst. My issues with the book are twofold. First is its structure. The constant movement from action gives the book a disjointed, snapshot feel. I would have preferred a structure that integrated the battles into the narrative more smoothly. The author has the right to structure his book as he sees fit, but I feel that I would have found the book a more enjoyable read and for the most part, I did find it enjoyable with a different structure.
Second is the failure to discuss the war cruises of many of Germany's commerce raiders, particularly its auxiliary cruisers. Perhaps this says something about the disjointedness that I mentioned earlier, but the careers of Germany's surface vessels were just as important as individual battles. I quibble, however. Read the book, and get a good general sense of Germany's surface sea war. Mar 31, Jesse Callaghan rated it really liked it.
Interesting statistical analysis approach to Naval history. Jay Hambleton rated it liked it Aug 16, Andrew Herzog rated it really liked it Mar 06, Christian Cederberg rated it it was amazing Dec 19, James D Thompson rated it really liked it Mar 06, Daniel rated it liked it Feb 16, Jonathan rated it it was amazing Nov 18,