The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1914–1918
The initial bombardment of the Turkish guarding the entrance to the Dardanelles commenced on 19 February 1915, and by 1 March the British were prepared to destroy the intermediate defenses and clear the minefields. As ships moved into the more restricted Straits and mines forced them off shore, the Turkish artillery became dominant. Russian decisions to confine their attacks to regions close to their own bases of supply scuttled hopes for assistance from their Black Sea Fleet. When sea power proved no more successful than the Greek Army or the Russian Fleet, the British Empire and French (motivated largely to maintain French influence in the Levant) sent troops into the bloody and ultimately unsuccessful assault on the beaches. The navy that failed to force the Dardanelles landed and, at the end, evacuated the troops, the latter being the most successful aspect of the whole campaign and providing a model for the heroic evacuation from Dunkirk during another war. Between those bookends the Western navies supplied the troops ashore while their submarines interdicted Turkish supplies to the Gallipoli Peninsula.This work shines the spotlight on aspects neglected in other studies of the war, some of which fit into place once they are revealed. The Adriatic provided a highway across which Austro-Hungarian and Italian forces threatened to traverse to attack each other's homeland. The weakness of those two combatants was shown as they relied on their allies to supply and defend them. While Italy entreated Britain and France to divert vessels to Italian waters, Austria-Hungary was aided by the overland transport of submarines from Germany, some of which then sailed with German crews and under either German or Austrian-Hungarian flags. The Austro-Hungarian "Fleet in Being" kept larger Entente forces unavailable for other work as submarines sunk their enemies' maritime assets.
As its 630 pages would suggest, The Naval War in the Mediterranean is an extremely detailed book, expending much ink on the names of officers, few of which are as recognizable as that of Capt. von Trapp of "Sound of Music" fame, and ships and the details of engagements. I did learn new concepts about the strategies involved, the flow of the combat, and its effect on the larger war. A condensation of 50 percent or more would leave enough to satisfy a casual reader like myself. This is the definitive and thorough narrative for the expert in the field and would be of great interest to them.
James M. Gallen
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