By mid-1942 the Allies were losing the Mediterranean war: Malta was isolated and its civilian population faced starvation. In June 1942 the British Royal Navy made a stupendous effort to break the Axis stranglehold. The British dispatched armed convoys from Gibraltar and Egypt toward Malta. In a complex battle lasting more than a week, Italian and German forces defeated Operation Vigorous, the larger eastern effort, and ravaged the western convoy, Operation Harpoon, in a series of air, submarine, and surface attacks culminating in the Battle of Pantelleria. Just two of seventeen merchant ships that set out for Malta reached their destination. In Passage Perilous presents a detailed description of the operations and assesses the actual impact Malta had on the fight to deny supplies to Rommel's army in North Africa. The book's discussion of the battle's operational aspects highlights the complex relationships between air and naval power and the influence of geography on littoral operations.
About the authors
Vincent P. O'Hara is a naval historian and the author of five books including Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater 1940-1945 (2009). He serves on the editorial review board of Global War Studies and is a Collaboratori for Storia MILITARE magazine. Mr. O'Hara contributed introductions to two volumes of Samuel E. Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, which has been recently republished by the Naval Institute; he is an assistant editor of World War II at Sea: An Encyclopedia; and a regular contributor to publications such as the respected British annual Warship. O'Hara holds a history degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and resides in southern California.
To someone well versed in naval history and the Second World War, In Passage Perilous is a valuable account of a relatively neglected portion of the war at sea. . . . Readers unfamiliar with the equipment or tactics of the Second World War will have a very difficult time following O'Hara's narrative. Readers with the requisite knowledge, though, will find In Passage Perilous a very rewarding read.
In Passage Perilous is an important and highly recommended addition to the literature on World War II in the Mediterranean.
IPP Naval Maritime History
[O'Hara] is to be congratulated for bringing new insights into this critical phase of the Mediterranean conflict, and his work is to be recommended.