chapter  IV
Operation ''M.G.I'', March 1942
Pages 21

IN M A R C H 1942 the naval situation in the Mediterranean-and, indeed throughout the world-was more difficult than at any time hitherto during the war. The quarter ending that month saw a higher tonnage of merchant shipping sunk in the Atlantic than in any previous period, and this was on the increase; in the Arctic, the protection of the convoys to North Russia was throwing a very severe strain on the Home Fleet, due to the advent of daylight after the winter darkness and a redisposition of the German Fleet; and the tremendous events in the Far East following the Japanese entry into the war in December 1941, made themselves felt everywhere, and not least in the Mediterranean. In the eastern basin, neither capital ships nor carriers were available in the British Fleet, while Italy had four or five battleships fit for service and strong forces of shore-based aircraft at her disposal. In the western basin, Force H was preparing for the operation which resulted in the occupation of Diego Suarez (Madagascar) in May.