The Mediterranean Fleet, 1930-1939

Vol 163 (2016), Paul Halpern

The Mediterranean Fleet entered the 1930s looking back to the lessons of Jutland and the First World War but also seeking to incorporate new technologies, notably air power. Unfortunately in the depression years of the early 1930s there was a lack of funds to remedy deficiencies. The problem became critical during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935. The crisis wound down by mid-1936 but the respite did t last long. In June 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out and the Mediterranean Fleet was soon involved in evacuations of British and other endangered foreigners from Spanish ports as well as the protection of British flagged merchant ships in the war zone.

In addition to the Spanish Civil War there was an increase of tension with Germany in 1938 that culminated with the Czechoslovak crisis in September. The situation of the Mediterranean Fleet and its possible actions had the Munich agreement t been reached are described. The Spanish Civil War ended in 1939 with the victory of the Nationalists and the Mediterranean Fleet was again involved in evacuations. By w the prospect of war with Germany and possibly Italy was quite clear and serious preparations for war continued. The plans for war in the Mediterranean are reproduced in detail.

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About Paul Halpern

Paul Halpern was born in New York 27 January 1937, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1958 with honours in History. He served in the US Army 1958-60, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant. He entered Harvard University in 1960, where he gained an MA in History in 1961 and in 1966 his PhD, with a two volume thesis on The Mediterranean Naval Situation. He spent his entire academic career at Florida State University at Tallahassee, starting as an instructor in 1965, rising to assistant professor in 1966, associate professor in 1970, and professor in 1974. On retiring in 2005 he became emeritus professor. In 1986-87 he served as visiting professor of strategy at the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island.

He served on the Council of the Navy Records Society 1968-72, 1982-86 and 2010-14. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a member of the American Historical Foundation, the US Naval Institute, the Naval Historical Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Eta Sigma

His publications include
• The Mediterranean Naval Situation, 1908-1914 (Harvard University Press, 1971).
• The Naval War in the Mediterranean (Allen and Unwin, 1987).
• The Royal Navy in the Mediterranean, 1915-18 (Navy Records Society, 1987)
• The Keyes Papers, Volume I (Navy Records Society, 1972).
• The Keyes Papers, Volume II (Navy Records Society, 1980).
• The Keyes Papers, Volume III (Navy Records Society, 1981).
• A Naval History of World War I (Naval Institute Press, 1994).
• Anton Haus: Osterreich-Ungarns Grossadmiral (Graz, 1998).
• The Battle of the Otranto Straits: Controlling the gateway to the Adriatic in World War I (Indiana University Press, 2004).
• The Mediterranean Fleet, 1919-29 (Navy Records Society, 2011).
• The Mediterranean Fleet, 1930-39 (Navy Records Society, 2016).

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