Among the great misconceptions of modern times is the assumption that Benito Mussolini was Hitler's junior partner, who made no significant contributions to the Second World War. That conclusion originated with Allied propagandists determined to boost Anglo-American morale, while undermining the importance of Italy's co-operation. The Duce's failings, real or imagined, were inflated and ridiculed; his successes pointedly demeaned or ignored. So effective was this disinformation campaign that it became post-war history. However, Frank Joseph's closer examination of original, recently disclosed source materials presents an entirely different picture. Joseph shines new light, for example, on Italy's submarine service, with its boats sinking nearly three-quarters of a million tons of Allied shipping in just three years. During a single operation, Italian 'human torpedoes' attacked and severely damaged the battleships HMS Valiant and Queen Elizabeth, plus an eight-thousand-ton tanker, at their home anchorage in Alexandria, Egypt. By mid-1942, Mussolini's navy had fought its way back from crushing defeats to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean Sea. As influential as this was, more potentially decisive was Mussolini's planned aggression against the USA. Postponed at the last moment when its conventional explosives were slated for substitution by a nuclear device, New York City escaped an atomic attack by margins more narrow than previously believed. These and numerous other disclosures combine to debunk lingering propaganda stereotypes of the inept, ineffectual Italian armed forces.About the AuthorFrank Joseph's military history articles have appeared in military magazines, journals and other periodicals since 1986, publishing over 20 books including Unearthing Ancient America.

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