Sunday, May 21, 2006
The period from July to October 1941, in the Mediterranean, consisted of a fight for control of the sea and the flow of supplies and equipment
Very quickly, after Italy entered the war, the British established an ascendancy over them at sea. Before the arrival of German airpower, the British were able to operate pretty much where they wanted. After the arrival of Fliegerkorps X in January 1941, as we have seen, that situation changed. After May, the waters between Cyrenaica and Crete became almost impassible to the British. The decision was made, though, that the supply and defense of Malta was critical, and must be pursued, regardless of cost. The losses off Crete now greatly affected operations. The scarcity of destroyers meant that the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant were confined to Alexandria. The Warspite and Formidable were sent to America for repair. Other damaged ships were sent to "Durban, Bombay, or the United Kingdom". This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.