Battle of the Mediterranean

The Battle of the Mediterranean was the name given to the naval campaign fought in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II, from 10 June 1940 to 2 May 1945.

Battle of Mediterranean
Part of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of World War II

From top left to clockwise:
British aircraft carrier during the Pedestal operation, the Zara cruiser opens fire during the battle of Punta Stilo, an Italian merchant ship under enemy air attack, the 'Gondar' submarine with the SLC cylinders on the deck
Date10 June 1940 – 2 May 1945
(4 years, 10 months, 3 weeks and 1 day)
Result Allied victory
 United Kingdom
 United States (from 1942)
 Free France
 New Zealand
 Italy (from 1943)
 Italy (until 1943)
 Italian Social Republic (from 1943)
 Vichy France[nb 1]
Casualties and losses
Up to September 1943:
76 warships of 315,500 tons
48 submarines
Up to September 1943:
83 warships totaling 195,100 tons
84 submarines
2,018,616 tons of merchant shipping[1]
c. 21,000 Royal Italian Navy personnel and c. 6,500 Italian Merchant Navy personnel killed at sea[2][3]
17 warships
68 submarines
Vichy France
11 warships of ~72,000 tons
7 submarines[4]

For the most part, the campaign was fought between the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina), supported by other Axis naval and air forces, and the British Royal Navy, supported by other Allied naval forces, such as Australia, the Netherlands, Poland and Greece. American naval and air units joined the Allied side in 1942.

Each side had three overall objectives in this battle. The first was to attack the supply lines of the other side. The second was to keep open the supply lines to their own armies in North Africa. The third was to destroy the ability of the opposing navy to wage war at sea. Outside of the Pacific theatre, the Mediterranean saw the largest conventional naval warfare actions during the conflict. In particular, Allied forces struggled to supply and retain the key naval and air base of Malta.

By the time of the September 1943 armistice between Italy and the Allies, Italian ships, submarines and aircraft had sunk Allied surface warships totalling 145,800 tons, while the Germans had sunk 169,700 tons, for a total of 315,500 tons. In total the Allies lost 76 warships and 46 submarines. The Allies sank 83 Italian warships totalling 195,100 tons (161,200 by the Commonwealth and 33,900 by the Americans) and 83 submarines.[5] German losses in the Mediterranean from the start of the campaign to the end were 17 warships and 68 submarines.[6]