War preparation of enemy navies

ADMIRAL MEZEVIRIS

The naval war of the Mediterranean 1939-1945

The war preparation of the two enemy Navies

(source: G. Mezeviris  Vice- Admiral R.H.N.,"The Conclusions of

the Naval War of the Mediterranean 1939-1945", Athens 1961)

 

“During the last long conflict in the Mediterranean between Great Britain and the Axis, both opponents went alternatively through periods of hardship. If it was Great Britain that was finally the winner, after having secured the support of the United States of America, there were many reasons for that. One of the main reasons, if not the most important,  was the difference of perception between the political leadership of the two sides concerning the importance of the naval power for the success of a war that was taking place in a region with the characteristics of the Mediterranean Sea.

 

From the leaders of the Axis, Hitler, who was the one who really directed the destinies of the war without taking into account his partner, was possessed by a purely continental spirit. He thus pursued the long German tradition and didn’t take advantage of the lessons of World War I. As far as Musolini is concerned, since gaining power he had tried to acquire dominance of the sea in the Mediterranean understanding obviously the importance of this factor. Driven by the fixed idea that the war will be of a very short duration and relying mainly upon the opinions of his advisers of the Army and the Air force, he didn’t give proper weight to the recommendations of the Navy. Thus, during both the phases of preparation and the war, he didn’t take in time the measures that would eventually allow him to gain the much wanted dominance of the Mediterranean.

 

In contrast with the leadership of the Axis, Churchill was by excellence the politician who during his long career had developed close ties with the Navy. He could never forget that the grandeur of the British Empire was mainly due to the Royal Navy.  Having inherited the Navy unprepared material wise for a war and perfectly understanding her needs, with the speed of decision making that characterized him, he did everything in his power to cover the deficiencies and he finally succeeded. Churchill himself wasn’t without human shortcomings. By excellence a fighting spirit he became the animating spirit of a whole Nation. However this same spirit would sometimes push him to actions that could lead to her destruction the Mediterranean Fleet, if he hadn’t to face the composed but strong character of Admiral Cunningham.”