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"Battle of Cape Matapan: World War II Italian Naval Massacre" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2021 10:14 p.m. PST

"It was called Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) by Benito Mussolini and his Fascist stalwarts, but the Italian navy, or Regia Marina, still understood it was an open question as to who would rule the Mediterranean in 1941. In fact, Operation Gaudo, a plan to sweep the Royal Navy from the waters surrounding Crete, was intended to demonstrate, after a number of one-sided encounters, that the Italians were still a force to be reckoned with.

Admiral Angelo Iachino, an experienced and intelligent naval officer, was given command of the operation. The plan called for a strong naval force to patrol the area north and south of Crete, sinking any British convoys or escort warships it might encounter. From the beginning, Iachino was disturbed by the dependence of the operation upon forces outside his control, namely air support. He could only request Italian and German aircraft through Italian naval headquarters, a fatal division of command for the mission. Cooperation between the various branches of the Italian armed forces was nonexistent. The Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) repeatedly made its appearance at the end of a battle. Perhaps even more frustrating, the Italian airmen frequently bombed their own ships as well as British vessels…"
Full Article here


Son of MOOG08 Apr 2021 6:27 a.m. PST

Interesting article. I've always been a fan of the Italian ships. Thanks.


Legionarius08 Apr 2021 8:43 a.m. PST

Oh the pain and the sorrow of war. Especially those on the wrong or losing side! Not on the tabletop however!

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 8:45 a.m. PST

Yes. Regular naval gamers keep bringing back ships that had been previously sunk.

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 8:47 a.m. PST

Very good! Lots of little details that I've come to appreciate.
I also learned that Doris Day wasn't as wholesome as we all thought…

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 12:31 p.m. PST

While @Tango01 deserves credit for trying to keep the TMP WW2 naval boards alive (too many of our fellow lemmings have gone to Facebook?), this article should be taken with a grain of salt, as it contains quite numerous questionable statements, including the last paragraph.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian08 Apr 2021 1:51 p.m. PST

Regular naval gamers keep bringing back ships that had been previously sunk.

Not to mention ships that were never built.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 2:56 p.m. PST

I'll bite, what's wrong with the last paragraph?

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 3:03 p.m. PST

I suspect all articles need to be taken with a grain of salt?

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 3:52 p.m. PST

Taranto was more than a psychological defeat, no? And not much detail here. What is the best book on the Italian Navy in the Med for WW2?

Thanks Armand, the Italian ships are interesting and surface battles even more so.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 4:09 p.m. PST



Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 4:39 p.m. PST

I had an interesting experience relating to the battle of Matapan in my first year of teaching in Galveston, Texas. There was a young man who butted heads with me constantly until I mentioned the battle in our study of WW II. The next day he brought in a fancy photo of, I think, the "Pola." Turned out his dad had been captured when she sank. After we got into the war he was shipped to a POW camp in Texas. After the war ended he became a shrimper in Galveston! The kid gave no trouble the rest of the year.

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 7:47 p.m. PST

@lloydthegamer: The last paragraph is literally incorrect, as is what it implies, and this would be obvious to anyone who has read up on the history (unlike apparently the "author"). The Italian navy sortied in equal or greater force numerous times after Matapan, for example during Operation Halberd in September of the same year, and the Sirte battles in December. Furthermore, the major constraint on Italian operations was the oil fuel shortage, which was having an increasing effect on the their ability to sortie major units, even in 1941.

@Cardinal Hawkwood: True, but with this article more than others.

@Tortorella: Try "The Struggle for the Middle Sea" by O'Hara, or "The Naval War in the Mediterranean" by Greene and Massignani.


Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2021 8:16 p.m. PST

Excellent Hinds, thank you!

Blutarski09 Apr 2021 9:14 a.m. PST

I second both book recommendations.


Basha Felika10 Apr 2021 1:16 a.m. PST

On a topical note, I think Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, fought at the battle?

Nine pound round10 Apr 2021 11:01 a.m. PST

Mentioned in dispatches for controlling "Valiant's" searchlights. Not a low-risk responsibility in a night action.

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