Today my Dad gives his view of the unrest in the Mediterranean rim following World War 2
One might wonder why there was all this round the clock flying and what it was about. Since the end of the war there was a strong British presence in the Mediterranean particularly a naval presence. Two carriers, two cruiser squadrons and several destroyer flotillas. Altogether which they rarely were, this comprised forty ships. The main naval base was at Malta with all the base facilities:- floating dock, supply ships, armaments, stores etc.
The Mediterranean rim was a hot bed of unrest. France and Italy had strong communist influences in their opposition parties. There was a tug of war going on between Italy and Yugoslavia over who ruled Trieste. Yugoslavia itself had become a Communist state under Marshall Tito. Tito was a strong leader but he had factions in his own country that he had to keep under control.
South of Yugoslavia was the small mountainous country of Albania, their government under the premier Ewer Hoxa had retained closed borders against their neighbours and to the Western World in general. Not 12 months before they had laid mines in the Corfu Channel and had severely damaged two British destroyers passing through the channel.
Surrounding Albania was Greece. They were approaching the point where military junta was moving towards a takeover of the monarchist government. As the same time Greece was engaged in a dispute with neighbouring Turkey over border issues. Greece and Turkey had been at daggers drawn for decades.
South of Turkey was Syria. At this time Syria was a colony of France who had reoccupied Syria after the war when Britain had seized it in 1940 when Vichy France would not surrender their military outposts to the British. The colonial French particularly despised the British.
South of Syria (Lebanon was at that time part of Syria) was Palestine. Palestine, ruled by Britain under a mandate since the first world war was predominantly Arab with native born Jews and some Jewish settlers living amongst them.
The Jews had been promised before the second world war that they would be granted a homeland in Palestine and there was strong political agitation by the Jews for this to come about. More about Palestine later.
Continuing the round the Med story, Egypt was in a state of flux. Egypt had been a British Mandated Territory since the 19th century which meant that there were British forces in the country but it was not part of the British Empire. Here again there was a strong Nationalist faction that wanted complete self government and therefore there were attacks from time to time against British troops and Navy bases. (Strangely enough there were ten Egyptian naval officers, Engineers obtaining technical experience on board Ocean at that time)
The North African neighbour to Egypt was Libya having previously been an Italian colony but now under British military rule. The previous Libyan currency had been called in and all finance was dealt with under British military currency . Libya was being guided towards home rule and was the least troublesome of countries in the Mediterranean rim.
(Dad noted how things changed 22nd March 2011)
Beyond Libya was Tunisia another restored French colony with a not too friendly approach to the British French administration.
Beyond Tunisia was Algeria again a French colony but with a strong Algerian nationalist movement trying to obtain self rule.