Mediterranean Fury: The Battle of Cape Matapan

In Harm’sWay

The German naval staff considers that the appearance of Italian units in the area south of Crete will certainly interfere with British shipping, and may even lead to the complete interruption of the transport of troops, especially as these transports are at the moment inadequately protected.

–Memoranda to the Italian Naval High Command, March 9 th , 1941.

Never in my life have I experienced a more thrilling moment...the enemy was at a range of no more than 3800 yards–point blank. One saw whole turrets and masses of other heavy debris whirling through the air and splashing into the sea...

—From Admiral Cunningham’s memoirs of the battle of Cape Matapan, 22:30 hours, May 28 th , 1941.

INTRODUCTION

Battle for Mare Nostrum .

Goaded by their German Allies into taking some sort of action to disrupt the British reinforcements being rushed to Greece, and smarting from the humiliation of the British air raid a few months earlier at Taranto, the Italian fleet set sail on March 27, 1941. Italian Admiral Iachino sought to intercept the British reinforcement convoys east of Crete. Admiral Cunningham, alerted to the Italian fleet’s sortie, set sail to do battle. The resultant clash off of Greece’s Cape Matapan on the 28th would be the only time the Italian Navy challenged
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