Tension With Italy Accelerates Rearmament

Monday 17th February 1936

Continuing tensions with Mussolini's Fascist Italy over its invasion of Abyssinia had prompted a rethink of Britain's military requirements. Not merely had the weakness of the armed forces militated against firm diplomatic action, but it was increasingly clear that the British Empire would struggle to defend itself even against a nation previously considered insignificant.

The services presented a supplementary budget of £7.8m for the year to the end of March, in practice money that was already being spent. The chief beneficiary was the Royal Navy taking nearly two-thirds of the extra spending. The RAF did rather better than the army its share of the remainder. Much of the extra was being spent on bases in the Mediterranean and Middle East areas, where Italy was the most likely enemy.


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