I have been quite privileged in that the Australian Naval History Society’s Naval Historical Review has agreed to publish a series of two articles on the Battle of Cape Spade, 19 July 1940.
This article is the first of a series of two that aim to provide a new perspective on the Battle of Cape Spada on Crete’s northern coast on 19 July 1940. Cape Spada was one of the first major naval engagements of the Royal Australian Navy in the Mediterranean in the Second World War, when the light cruiser HMAS Sydney (II), leading a force including five Royal Navy destroyers, engaged the two light cruisers of the Regia Marina’s 2nd Cruiser Division (IIa Divisione), RN Bartolomeo Colleoni and Giovanni delle Bande Nere, sinking the former.
The articles will provide the Italian perspective on this battle. This article will provide background on the genesis, characteristics and employment of the first post-First World War Italian light cruiser force, the 1920s di Giussano -class cruisers, in the run-up to the Second world war in the Mediterranean. The design considerations and weaknesses of the di Giussanos are critical to understand the decision-making of the Italian commander and the outcome of the battle. The second article will describe the battle in detail.