Royal Navy Home Fleet 1939-41; Italian Battle Fleet 1940-43

Being there . . . on 3 September 1939 when Britain and her colonies declared war on Germany
after ultimatums were ignored to cease all occupation activities in Danzig, and, to the south,
the invasion of Poland. In Britain, the evacuation of women and children from the major cities
was well under way as a War Cabinet was quickly formed and announced in London. That same
early afternoon, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, and a bit later the
British passenger ship Athenia was sunk by a German U-boat with the loss of 112 lives,
including 28 Americans. Britain was really at war! Two days later, 5 September, we, instead of
instantly jumping in to support the best and greatest friend we ever had, proclaimed
“neutrality”. Our president, Franklin D. Roosevelt knew, of course, we would inevitably be
joining Britain to cut Hitler’s jugular vein, even though by that late a date the Fuhrer may have
grabbed half the world. The American people wanted no part of a horrific world war cost:
American boys and, still hard to come by American Depression cash.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Benito Mussolini was hell-bent on making himself Emperor, or a modern
Caesar, with the Fuhrer’s approval and admiration, of a New Fascist Empire. After all, in his
words, “The Mediterranean is our Italian Lake. Because our dear Italia juts deep into it, all the
seas and beaches surrounding our lands belong to us, the Italian people, especially since our
ancestors sailed the waters and ruled all over its lands long before even the Phoenicians,
Arabians, Hebrews, and North Africans. NO, the seas and their routes belong to us”. Such
boasting was ordinary by the dictator from the safety of his second floor Rome balcony. On
June 10 th , 1941, the idiot declared war on Britain and France. Roosevelt responded, “We will
extend to the opponents of force the material resources of our American nation.” Not until 11
December 1941, would our nation begin war with Italy – – and Germany, on the same day! And
this was only because both Axis nations declared war on us, and vice-versa! The world was on
fire in what was becoming the worst calamity known to man.
OSPREY PUBLISHING OFFERS SUPERB SYNOPSES OF THE TWO MAIN NAVAL FLEETS THAT RULED
MUSSOLINI’S “ITALIAN LAKE” – – THE ROYAL NAVY’S MEDITERRANEAN FLEET BASED AT
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT, AND THE ITALIAN BATTLE FLEET, “LA SQUADRA”, THE PRIDE OF THE REGIA
MARINA, AT LA SPEZIA, THE MAIN ANCHORAGE FOR ITALY’S BATTLESHIPS. IF READ TOGETHER,
OR ONE AFTER THE OTHER FOR SERIOUS CONTRASTING, READERS WILL LEARN IN DETAIL EACH
OF THE FLEET’S MAIN PURPOSE, FIGHTING POWER, METHODS OF DEPLOYMENT, COMBAT
STRATEGIES, AND EXPERT ANALYSES. ALSO INCLUDED AT EACH TITLE’S COMCLUSION IS A
PRICELESS BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR FURTHER READING. SERIOUS NAVAL, WORLD WAR II, AND
GENERAL WAR DEVOTEE-ENTHUSIASTS UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THE INESTIMABLE
VALUE OSPREY PRESENTS OF THESE PARTICLAR CONTRASTING, HITHERTO UNATTEMPTED
BIBLIOGRAPHIC READS. . .
Both reviewed and highly recommended by Don DeNevi
“Royal Navy Home Fleet 1939 – 41 – – The last line of defense at Scapa Flow”, by Angus
Konstam, Illustrated by Jim Laurier. Osprey Publishing/Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: 2024, 80
pages, Fleet 5 Series, 7 ¼” x 9 ¾”, $23. Visit, www.ospreypublishing.com.

“Italian Battle Fleet 1940 – 43 – – ‘La Squadra’, the pride of the Regia Marina”, by Enrico
Cernuschi, Illustrated by Edouard A. Groult. Osprey Publishing/Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: 2024,
80 pages, Fleet 6 Series, 7 ¼” x 9 ¾”, $23. Visit, www.ospreypublishing.com.
Naval Historian Angus Konstam, a full-time historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical
Society who lives in Orkney overlooking Scapa Flow, provides readers with full details of the
Home Fleet’s fighting power, organization, roles, and battles in the crucial first years of World
War II when it was Britain’s most powerful fighting force. He explains the complex
responsibilities of the fleet, charged simultaneously with preventing the powerful German Navy
from breaking out into the Atlantic, preparing to challenge any cross-Channel invasion force,
and combating German naval operations in the North Sea. Home Fleet actions included the loss
of HMS Hood, the sinking of the Bismarck, and countering the invasion of Norway, the biggest
amphibious operation by the Germans in the war. As usual, Osprey, for its better books, assigns
from its great collection of illustrators one of the very best to illustrate it. Here, they assign Jim
Laurier. Along with his brilliant artwork are 3D diagrams and maps.
After Benito Mussolini gained power in the 1920s, he was intent upon reshaping the balance
of power in the Mediterranean, and perhaps even the Atlantic Ocean itself. The British and
French fleets, even if combined, didn’t scare him. His plan was to trap and destroy their fleets in
“our Lake” near Sicily. The core of his plan meant deploying his entire powerful battleship fleet
known in Italy as Regia Marina, the battleship fleet specifically as “La Squadra”. The whole
Italian Navy was given the supreme task of making the Mediterranean an Italian Sea once more.
If Angus Konstam was Britain’s naval history star, Enrico Cernuschi was Italy’s. Now living in
Pavia, Italy, he has written dozens of books and over 500 articles, all in Italian, on “La Squadra”.
Here, he presents a comprehensive overview of Mussolini’s proud fleet, drawing on both Italian
and Allied primary sources to present his authentic picture of Italian battle actions and decision
making. His latest, here, covers a multitude of facts and details hitherto unpublished, i.e., La
Squadra’s codebreaking methods, the fleet’s logistics and the qualities and limitations of the
Italian naval industry. Cernuschi not only provides a concise account and analysis of La
Squadra’s activities through the war, from famous battles to lesser-known actions, but also
offers interesting and valuable new insight into Italy’s great fleet of World War II.

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