Malta and British Strategic Policy, 1925-1943 by Douglas Austin

By Douglas Austin

This e-book is a massive reassessment of a key point of British technique and defence coverage within the first half the 20th century. . Its major subject matter is an research of the position of Malta in British army process, as deliberate and because it really built, within the interval among the mid-1920s and the tip of the conflict in North Africa in may well 1943. It demonstrates that the now largely approved trust that Malta was once written off as indefensible earlier than the battle was once incorrect, and specializes in Maltas real wartime function within the Mediterranean warfare. Assessing the various merits, many frequently neglected, that the British derived from retention of the island. The conclusions made problem fresh assertions that Maltas contribution was once of constrained worth.

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46 The Baldwin government of 1924 was committed to a programme of reduced taxation and social reform. To finance 16 THE BASE AT MALTA IN THE 1920S these objectives, without adding to the already high level of the national debt, the Cabinet gave full support to Churchill’s attack on the service estimates. This powerful financial pressure was made irresistible by the second factor, and this was the government’s growing confidence in a peaceful world outlook. The signing of the Locarno Treaty in 1925, the admission of Germany to the League of Nations in 1926, the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, and the preparatory work towards the Disarmament Conference, were all seen as evidence of an increasingly benign international climate in which the Cabinet found it difficult to see where, and by whom, the empire was threatened.

The memorandum noted Malta’s current ‘air garrison’ of six naval co-operation aircraft, but made no proposals about a strengthening of this, confining its recommendations to that of reserving suitable sites for additional airfields. However, at the DOP’s meeting Squadron Leader Bottomley expressed the Air Staff’s opinion that it would be desirable ‘in order to make effective counter-attacks, to have at Malta three squadrons of bombers, or torpedo-bombers, two squadrons of fighters, and two flights of seaplanes’.

THE IMPACT OF MALTESE NATIONALISM AND ITALIAN INFLUENCE The question for consideration here is not how Malta developed in political, social or economic terms in the 1920s, but rather whether the British authorities came to the view that these developments might adversely affect the security of the naval base. 47 Prior to the First World War the British government generally regarded Malta as a ‘fortress colony’, where naval and military interests were paramount. 48 However, in the post-war climate of self-determination the British government yielded to mounting pressure from Maltese political leaders for a measure of self-government, and a new Constitution was granted in 1921.

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