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The Mediterranean And Middle East: The Early Successes Against Italy (To May 1941), Official Campaign History V. I (History Of The Second World War: United Kingdom Military)

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The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy's declaration of war and France's collapse in June 1940. Britain's painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is fol The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy's declaration of war and France's collapse in June 1940. Britain's painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is followed by the first blows against the Italian empire in East Africa, and Italy's attacks on Egypt and Greece. The Fleet Air Arm's triumphant attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto, masterminded by Admiral Cunningham, is trumped by General Wavell's even more successful Battle of Sidi Barrani in December, when vast numbers of Italians were captured for negligible British losses. The victory was followed up by Britain's capture of Bardia and Tobruk, and the founding of the Long Range Desert Group - the germ of the SAS. The mopping-up of Genertal Graziani's forces in Cyrenaica, however, ominiously resulted in Germany's decision to rescue their ally with General Rommel's Afrika Korps. However, the volume concludes optimistically with the successful campaign against Italy in Ethiopia, in which General Orde Wingate's irregular Gideon Force plays a prominent part. The military narrative is accompanied by descriptions of diplomatic developments and technological innovations such as the arrival of the Hurricane fighter plane, the Matilda tank and radar. The text is accompanied by ten appendices, 30 maps and diagrams and 43 photographs.


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The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy's declaration of war and France's collapse in June 1940. Britain's painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is fol The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy's declaration of war and France's collapse in June 1940. Britain's painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is followed by the first blows against the Italian empire in East Africa, and Italy's attacks on Egypt and Greece. The Fleet Air Arm's triumphant attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto, masterminded by Admiral Cunningham, is trumped by General Wavell's even more successful Battle of Sidi Barrani in December, when vast numbers of Italians were captured for negligible British losses. The victory was followed up by Britain's capture of Bardia and Tobruk, and the founding of the Long Range Desert Group - the germ of the SAS. The mopping-up of Genertal Graziani's forces in Cyrenaica, however, ominiously resulted in Germany's decision to rescue their ally with General Rommel's Afrika Korps. However, the volume concludes optimistically with the successful campaign against Italy in Ethiopia, in which General Orde Wingate's irregular Gideon Force plays a prominent part. The military narrative is accompanied by descriptions of diplomatic developments and technological innovations such as the arrival of the Hurricane fighter plane, the Matilda tank and radar. The text is accompanied by ten appendices, 30 maps and diagrams and 43 photographs.

26 review for The Mediterranean And Middle East: The Early Successes Against Italy (To May 1941), Official Campaign History V. I (History Of The Second World War: United Kingdom Military)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    Having read or glanced through most of the volumes of the "Military" section of the British Official Histories, save the ones covering the fighting in the Far East, I believe that The Mediterranean and Middle East series is by far the best. As the books cover the highest level, they do not go into detail one finds in books dedicated to particular battles; with that said, some of the narrative can be very detailed on troop movements and actions. On the whole, the series provides one an understand Having read or glanced through most of the volumes of the "Military" section of the British Official Histories, save the ones covering the fighting in the Far East, I believe that The Mediterranean and Middle East series is by far the best. As the books cover the highest level, they do not go into detail one finds in books dedicated to particular battles; with that said, some of the narrative can be very detailed on troop movements and actions. On the whole, the series provides one an understanding of the British geo-political situation, the strategic concerns of the various top level commanders and overlapping command, along with extensive detail on the supply and logistical issues faced by both sides. The information is supported by a wealth of statistics, graphs, and maps. The only drawback being that the reprinted versions do not contain coloured maps resulting in some being difficult to read. As these were largely released prior to the reveal of ULTRA, some of the intelligence issues are glossed over or simplified. Finally, not all of the volumes contain footnotes that would have aided future readers. The success of this series can be measured in how extensively it is referenced over the decades by other words, when compared - to say - the Victory in the West series.

  2. 5 out of 5

    George Polansky

    Must read for students of this era. Detailed coverage of the war from the British perspective.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul W

    For twelve months after the fall of France and the Allied losses in Western Europe in 1940, the Mediterranean became the centre for continuing the war with the Axis. This was an enormous theatre - four times the size of western Europe – stretching from Libya to Iraq, and from Yugoslavia to Kenya. In this theatre fought soldiers of a polyglot of nations. For the Axis: Eritreans, Ethiopians, (Vichy) French, Iraqis, Libyans, and Yugoslavs as well as Italians and Germans. For the Allies: Arabs, Austr For twelve months after the fall of France and the Allied losses in Western Europe in 1940, the Mediterranean became the centre for continuing the war with the Axis. This was an enormous theatre - four times the size of western Europe – stretching from Libya to Iraq, and from Yugoslavia to Kenya. In this theatre fought soldiers of a polyglot of nations. For the Axis: Eritreans, Ethiopians, (Vichy) French, Iraqis, Libyans, and Yugoslavs as well as Italians and Germans. For the Allies: Arabs, Australians, (Free) French, Ghanaians, Greeks, Indians, Jordanians, Kenyans, New Zealanders, Nigerians, Palestinians, Poles, South Africans, Sudanese, Polish, and Yugoslavs as well as British. Playfair masterly describes the events that unfolded in this complex setting during this period. His narrative helps the reader appreciate the strategic and political context of decisions and events, in addition to understanding the military actions. Many of the actions taken during this period were intended to influence non-combatants – including Spain, Turkey and the United States – whose entry into the war during this period would have altered the outcome. With the use of maps, Playfair explains the major battles that occurred during this period and finds the right balance of describing the people and the facts that made up these events. Written in the 1950s, Playfair subtly refers to Churchill’s interference in the campaign. Signals to the Allied commanders in chief indicating first one and then the other priority were constantly being received. Churchill’s “first priorities” included capture of Benghazi, making it a strongly defended naval and air base; “most important” that Dodecanese, particularly Rhodes, should be captured; “first duty” was to maintain sufficient air force at Malta; priority to create a strategic reserve to assist Greece; providing forces for Turkey; clearing East Africa; and resolving Iraq. He is too generous however in his analysis of Churchill’s volte face on support for Greece when it was evident from Churchill’s very first fanciful suggestion that this would be a disaster, and one involving Australian troops. A comprehensive yet concise description of one of the crucial theatres of war in World War 2.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Simon Prior

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim Revington

  6. 5 out of 5

    Geester

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Boyd

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rain

  9. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Olinde

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Russon

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Gazzelli

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hiram T.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Domenico Anfora

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wikimedia Italia

  15. 4 out of 5

    Krzysiek (Chris)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Len

  17. 4 out of 5

    Philip Lyon

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cliff

  19. 5 out of 5

    Scott Morgan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tomasz

  21. 4 out of 5

    kanwarjit sufi

  22. 4 out of 5

    MontyProp

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pengsheng Chiu

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robert Turlington

  25. 5 out of 5

    ICUAlex

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tomasz

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