The sweeping naval, air, and ground battles that define World War II continue to get the lion's share of our attention. However, the Second World War was also a war featuring a use of special forces on a scale almost unimaginable today. This war within the war was so unique it oftentimes was at odds with the reputation's earned by various nation's conventional forces.
For instance, the Italian military establishment's war effort has been much maligned, though the Italian Navy fought much better than it is often given credit for, but what is often forgotten is that Italian commandos achieved
In December of 1939 the German surface raider and "pocket" battleship Admiral Graf Spee had finally been brought to battle by three cruisers from the British Royal Navy. Operating primarily in the South Atlantic during the fall of 1939 the Graf Spee sank numerous British merchantmen. However, the Royal Navy, after mobilizing significant assets to stop the Graf Spee, finally caught up with the German warship and after a running battle in which the Graf Spee sustained serious damage the Graf pocket battleship's captain decided to scuttle his vessel rather than attempt to fight his way past the
The wisdom of the two-week German campaign in Crete remains heavily debated to this day. On the one hand, there is no doubt the loss of Crete weakened Britain's position in the Eastern Mediterranean at a crucial point in the war. On the other hand, some have argued the Germans lost an opportunity to seal off the Central Mediterranean via attacking Malta, astride Axis supply lines to North Africa.
Scandinavia took on ample significance to both Germany and Britain late in the winter of 1939-1940. The subsequent events in Scandinavian waters during the spring of 1940 would prove even more strategically significant following France's capitulation in June of 1940. The following will explain why.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, a politically weakened Neville Chamberlain had brought one of his leading dissenters, Winston Churchill, into his cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty; in an attempt to silence Churchill's politically damaging critiques of Chamberlain's leadership.