chapter  3
6 Pages

The Mediterranean, 27 March–27 May 1940

A month before war broke out in earnest with the invasion of Norway, Italian activity began to cause the Allies concern. The Italian Army’s forces in Libya and Albania were substantially reinforced, reservists were mobilised on 15 March and the pattern of Italian Navy activity altered quite significantly, while the tone of the press became markedly anti-British and from early April rumours of action against Franco-British interests were passed on by attachés in Spain and the Balkans. As early as 27 March, the Admiralty warned all commandersin-chief that it might be necessary to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet at short notice; at the same time, depot and repair ships and some submarines were despatched to Alexandria, where the Fleet infrastructure ashore had been greatly expanded during the preceding five months.1