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To What Extent Was the British Commitment of Massive Resources to the Campaign in North Africa and the Mediterranean, in the Years 1940 to 1944, a Strategic Mistake?

  • Date Submitted: 03/20/2015 02:13 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 30.4 
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It is argued that the Mediterranean strategy was a strategic mistake and British resources would be better used elsewhere such as the Atlantic where over 3,500 merchant vessels and 175 warships were destroyed during the entire war, but it can be also argued that Churchill, who initiated the Mediterranean campaign was right to commit huge amounts of resources to a strategy believed to win the war. It can be argued that both the North African and Mediterranean campaign, whilst not perfect and had many flaws, was far from a strategic mistake.
Firstly, there are valid reasons for the land based battle of North Africa and may show to be a strategic mistake not to enter North Africa. The Suez Canal and middle eastern oil fields needed protecting from the Germans and Italians, and by controlling the North, Britain would be protecting its assets in shipping and trade. Britain also needed to prove to the USSR and USA that it was committed to a land based attack on a second front after the disasters at Dunkirk and Norway and due to the fact Stalin felt he was fighting most of the war in the east losing hundreds of thousands. This was because Churchill believed an invasion of France would be unnecessary if allied forces could advance up the ‘soft underbelly’ of Fascist Italy and to attack Germany from the south. This would seem to suggest that however the Mediterranean campaign progressed, it wasn’t a strategic mistake to begin with at least.
However the Americans on the Soviets disagreed with Churchill’s belief about Italy and believed Britain’s resources would be better used elsewhere namely the defeat of the U-boat threat in the Atlantic because this would allow the buildup of American forces in readiness for a landing in France. At the Casablanca conference in 1943 Churchill struggle to convince darling and Roosevelt to push on with an illusion of Italy because the battle of the Atlantic had been one in May 1943 and it seemed there was no need for Churchill to continue...

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