Tourism Trumps Strategy

Tuesday 22nd September 1936

On his return from an inspection of British naval forces in the Mediterranean, the First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Samuel Hoare gave a briefing to the press. The briefing was striking chiefly for what Hoare did not say rather than its platitudinous content. Almost the only concrete achievement to which he could point was the evacuation of British civilians from Spain by the Royal Navy.

Had Britain thrown itself behind sanctions against Italian over its aggression in Abyssinia, it would have been the Royal Navy that would have borne the brunt. There were serious doubts whether it could have succeeded even if the political will to do so had been present. It might well yet be put to the test, but Hoare emphasised the desire to cultivate friendly relations will all Mediterranean powers and the Navy’s task of protecting Imperial communications. The only hint he gave that its capacity might be expanded was to hint that Cyprus might be reinforced as a base. As well as its strategic importance, Hoare reminded the journalists of its delightful climate and worthwhile antiquities. Hoare’s desire to avoid giving anything that might have been taken as offensive to Mussolini was painful.