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Malta in World War II - Essay Example

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Summary
One of the most heavily bombed places in the war was Malta, the tiny (122 square miles) British-owned group of islands a few dozen miles south of Sicily, which was bombed an estimated 14,000 times from mid-1940 through mid-1943.
Collaboration between Italy and Germany began somewhat belatedly in the 1930s since the Berlin-Rome Axis was not the only choice for Italy…
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Malta in World War II
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Download file to see previous pages However after Benito Mussolini came to power, these relationships deteriorated as Italy clandestinely supported conflicts in British territories in the Mediterranean from the late 1920s onwards (1).
Owing to the strategic location of Malta it was an important stronghold for either the Axis or allied powers - particularly, the island is at the heart of the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy. It had been, ever since 1800, after two years of Napoleonic invasion, a division of the British Empire, its geographical significance had been recognized by Britain for the whole occupation. It was for this reason used as a major military and naval fort throughout this time. Malta occurred to be the only military headquarters between Gibraltar and Egypt.
In spite of its position, the British had shifted the headquarters of Mediterranean Fleet Navy from Valletta, Malta in the mid-1930s to Alexandria, Egypt. Despite the fact that there were apprehensions that the island, a long way from Britain and near Italy, could not be protected, British Government resolved in July 1939 to raise the number of anti-aircraft guns and fighters on Malta (2). British government had other worries about whether to retain the island in May 1940 when the French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud, stated that the state of affairs in France was horrible, however that Italy might be pacifies with the surrendering of Malta. After some deliberation, Winston Churchill persuaded the British War Cabinet that no surrendering should be made (3). Nevertheless, while Britain itself endangered, Malta was not the main concern for the British, so Malta was under-resourced when Italy declared war on Britain on 10 June 1940. At that time only 4,000 troops and a few outdated biplanes were based on the island, with 5 weeks' of food. However, the island was a strategic danger to Italy and the Axis powers. Malta's anti-shipping squads and Royal Navy submarines were a prospective danger to supply and communications between Europe, Italy and North Africa.
During most of the siege William Dobbie was Governor of Malta. Whilst in Malta, he was criticized for his attitude to organization in the siege and for what opponents claim to have been an objectionable holdup in the establishment of bomb shelters in addition to employing effective food-rationing and creating an efficient civil-defense system. Issues surrounding the delivery of armaments were also a condemnation. In May 1942 Field Marshal the Right Hon. John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort removed Dobbie.
First Phase of Siege of Malta
On 11 June 1940, the day after Italy declared war on Britain and France, airplanes of the Italian Royal Air Force attacked Malta. Most of its land forces had been placed for the imminent invasion of Greece, so Italy employed airborne offensive to check Malta from being a danger. On the first day, ten Italian Cant bombers dropped bombs on Grand Harbour, Hal Far, and Kalafrana. In seven attacks, 11 civilians and 6 soldiers were killed. As well, about 130 civilians and some troops were wounded.
At the time, the combatant aircraft in Malta comprised a few outdated Gloster Sea Gladiator biplanes. A common legend is that the air ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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