In March 1941, the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet, commanded by the aggressive and skilful Admiral Andrew Cunningham, scored one of the greatest one-sided victories in maritime history against the Italian fleet at Matapan. It brought to a climax six months of success for the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean at a time when Britain stood alone against the Axis powers. The Royal Navy had a marked superiority in naval aviation and night fighting techniques, and the advantage of ship-borne radar. This was the first battle in which Ultra, the Enigma de-codes, played a major role in British decisions.
For the Regia Marina it was an operation forced upon them by political necessity, which they fought hamstrung by poor fuel supplies and a lack of support from the Regia Aeronautica and the Luftwaffe, coupled with poor communications and intelligence. Based on material unavailable to earlier publications, including eyewitness accounts, the book explores the remarkable victories of Taranto and Matapan, as seen through the eyes of the men who manned the ships and flew the aircraft of the Mediterranean Fleet.
Mark Simmons The Battle of Matapan 1941: The Trafalgar of the Mediterranean. Publisher Spellmount 2011 softback 192 pages new.