chapter  I
Operation ''Excess'', January 1941
Pages 11

The Royal Air Force also took part in the operation. Aircraft from Gibraltar furnished anti-submarine patrols while the convoy was passing through the Straits, and aircraft from Malta reconnoitred Italian ports, an area north and west of Sicily, and the Narrows. The reconnaissance was not, however, on a big scale, and Admiral Somerville reported that he was " obliged to rely solely on carrier reconnaissance for information of the presence of enemy surface vessels in the area south and east of Sardinia." He added that " the danger of surprise contacts with enemy surface forces will continue until existing shore-based reconnaissance can be augmented." The orders made no provision for the air striking force he had proposed, nor for protection by shore-based fighters, nor for attack upon the enemy's air stations during the passage of the convoys.