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Between Hostile Shores: Mediterranean Convoys 1941-1942 (Paperback)

Between Hostile Shores - Mediterranean Convoys 1941-1942



Postage and Packing Free - Between Hostile Shores is one of a series of previously restricted and classified documents in a new, accessible format with tracking maps and battle damage reports and diagrams.


Detailed Description

publication date: July 2013

ISBN 978-1-84102-354-0 

Paperback 230 x 150mm

360 pages 

Appalling tactical risks were taken, of strategic necessity, during the Mediterranean convoy battles of 1941–1942. Surface ships of the Royal Navy and Allied merchant navies fought against overwhelming air attack, submarines, mines, fast torpedo craft and a powerful surface fleet to deliver vital supplies, but incurred harrowing losses: in 1942 only 30 per cent of the merchant ships that sailed arrived safely. The sacrifice of men and ships ensured that just enough supplies were delivered to ensure Malta’s survival, but the margin between success and failure was wafer-thin. Despite the cost, Mediterranean convoys represent a victory of Allied sea power over the continental forces of their Axis enemies.

Between Hostile Shores contains two Naval Staff History Battle Summaries. These describe the major Mediterranean and Malta convoy operations, alongside fascinating extracts from an unusual official document containing technical descriptions and plans of battle damage suffered by four Royal Navy warships escorting Mediterranean convoys. Extracts from orders and despatches give contemporary accounts of planning and the views of senior officers in command.  

  • Between Hostile Shores is one of a series of previously restricted and classified documents in a new, accessible format
  • Specially commissioned commentary by expert military historians
  • Published in collaboration with Britannia Royal Naval College


Vice Admiral Sir Richard Ibbotson

The Mediterranean in 1941 and 1942 was a crucial maritime theatre, but has not attracted a great deal of historical analysis thus far. It deserves more, partly because of the importance of operations like Excess, Halberd and Pedestal, partly because of battles like Sirte, but mostly because the lessons and implications are enduring, and merit understanding by current and future generations of our maritime nation. Between Hostile Shores therefore provides an important contribution to our naval history.

My operational experience in a different era was dominated by three persistent and seemingly timeless realities; the need to control sea lines of communication, while coping with extended supply lines and operating without air superiority. For my generation, these facets were a stark reality both for the Falklands, and for stages of the successive Gulf conflicts. I am intrigued that these were the key themes in the Mediterranean in 1941–1942. They chime with both the operational realities and the priorities of a post-Cold War Royal Navy far more than I might have imagined as a young watchkeeper and principal warfare officer, when the Royal Navy’s focus was predominantly on deep-water anti-submarine warfare in cold northern waters.

Events of the last two decades have again turned our maritime eye to the Mediterranean. Like many other Naval Officers, the leadership and focus on training provided by Somerville and Cunningham have inspired me. The Royal Navy rightly prides itself on professionalism and leadership. The events covered here are testament to the importance and validity of such a focus. These qualities gave the two Admirals’ ships the ability to fight through, against real, long-term adversity, unrelenting pressure and frequent loss.

The lessons that may be drawn from this book therefore remain wholly relevant today, and are brought together in the introduction with real style and vigour. I commend it wholeheartedly.

About the series 

Never previously published in this format, documents once stamped ‘secret’ have been sourced from Britannia Royal Naval College’s Library. These include reports and plans drawn up by serving Royal Navy Officers during and immediately after World War II. Britannia Naval Histories of World War II also contain Germany’s recorded view of action against the British, with Hitler’s comments, as they were typed and filed at the time: the Fuehrer Conferences. Specially commissioned artwork appears on each front cover. 

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