THE BRITISH supremacy of the Mediterranean Sea established by Lord Nelson between 1798 and 1805 was not seriously threatened until shortly before the Second World War (1939-45). The nineteenth century witnessed several wars and 'incidents', for example: the Greek War of Independence against Turkey, 1821-30; the Crimean War, 1854-56; the formation of the kingdom of Italy, 1860-61; the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, when Italy seized the chance to attack Austria and, though defeated, secured Venice at the resultant Peace Treaty; the Egyptian campaigns, 1882-85; the Fashoda incident of 1898, which for a short time caused strained relations with France; the Cretan insurrection 1897-98, which led to the expulsion of the Turks from Crete. Early in the twentieth century, in 1911-12, Italy and Turkey were at war for the suzerainty of Libya, and in 1911 there was considerable tension for a time over the Agadir incident, where the German gunboat Panther had been sent ostensibly to guard German interests, following the occupation of Fez by French troops.1 With all of these affairs we were concerned and in some of them directly involved, but none of them caused deep uneasiness over the question of our supremacy. In the First World War, 1914-18, German U-boats hampered, but offered no major threat to our Mediterranean communications; it was not until 1935, after a lapse of 130 years, that signs of a major threat arose. In that year the Italians began a short war of conquest of Abyssinia, and followed up their success in 1936-37 by sending 40,000 troops to Spain to assist General Franco in his civil war against the Republicans. The expedition was a violation of a specific Treaty not to send arms to either side in Spain, and it was supported at sea by a surreptitious submarine campaign when both neutral and Spanish ships were sunk. At the same time the Germans sent strong Air Forces to Spain, and it looked indeed as if the Axis powers, Germany and Italy, were preparing to challenge our control of the Western Mediterranean area.