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The Battle of Matapan

The Italian Navy was reluctant to take on a sea battle unless it could be won decisively. The Navy was under the control of higher ups in government. Had the Navy taken control the convoys making for Malta would have been under immense danger of being annihilated. The battle of Matapan was one of the rare occaisions the Italian Fleet was free to operate. An allied troop convoy was making for Greece from Egypt. An allied strengthening of Greece was prompted by messages decoded from Ultra suggesting a German build up of armed forces in southern Rumania would push through Bulgaria to attack Greece.
The British government decided to aid Greece by sending in troops by sea. General Wavell was against this decision on military grounds. Government decisions were later to be similarly misplaced by its decision to hold the Island of Crete under overwhelming German air power with disastrous consequences.

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