RAF Hal Far
The RAF Hal Far airfield was the first permanent airfield to be built on Malta. It was opened on 1 April 1929 as HMS Falcon, a Royal Navy stone frigate, was used by Fleet Air Arm crews, it was transferred to the Maltese Government and redeveloped from January 1979. It is now closed and one of its runways is used by drag racing enthusiasts; the second runway is now a road leading to an industrial estate, developed recently. This airfield consisted of two runways, namely Runway 13/31, 6,000 ft long and Runway 9/27, 4,800 ft long. Runway 13/31 was resurfaced between 20 April and 26 May 1959 while the resurfacing of Runway 9/27 was carried out between 12 June and 28 July 1959, its location on Malta was of great strategic importance in the Mediterranean, since it provided a base for aircraft carrier units en route to the rest of the British Empire. Compared to other airstrips on the island, Hal Far had better approaches over the sea and was the preferred diversionary base, it provided excellent range facilities, making it the ideal location for armament training by the squadrons.
Hal Far airfield provided various facilities, including an armoury, explosives area, workshops, a compass base and a control tower. It had a radar test base and a number of hangars, it included living quarters for H. Q. Staff and other ranks, a sick bay, for medical purposes. During the Second World War, Hal Far airfield was one of the main targets for the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica and suffered several bombings during the blitz. On July and August 1940 in the beginning of the Siege of Malta, the Italian air-raids managed to damage several squadron aircraft; as the raids intensified during 1942 more damage was inflicted on the airfield and the squadrons, present on the airfield. On one particular attack on Hal Far by Junkers Ju 88s, a Fairey Swordfish was badly damaged. Further raids during January 1942 resulted in the destruction at Hal Far of two other Swordfish and a Blackburn Skua, damaged 15 Hurricanes, three other Swordfish and a Fairey Fulmar. Further damage to aircraft, airfield buildings and loss of personnel resulted during attacks in 1942 and 1943, with the last bombing being recorded on 21 May 1943.
Hal Far had been the first Maltese airfield to be bombed on 11 June 1940. During this period, 2,300 tons of bombs were dropped on the airfield it was never made unservicable, due to the efficiency of the airfield repair parties. On the airfield itself the ground crew casualties numbered 84 injured. Various officers and Maltese civilian employees were awarded the George Cross, George Medal and other awards for their courage and bravery in the face of enemy action. With enemy air raids at an end, as aircraft became heavier and traffic had increased paved runways and taxiways were added to the airfield, together with the completion of runways 13/31 and 9/27; the Air Sea Rescue and Communications Flight, which had formed at Hal Far in March 1943, but which moved to Ta' Qali the following September, returned to Hal Far in March 1944. By 1944 Malta had therefore returned to normal and new aircraft were appearing all over the Island; the influx of large numbers of aircraft needed an expansion of dispersal areas and more huts, an undertaking carried out in October 1944.
Further accommodation areas were added when FAA squadrons started arriving at Hal Far for training periods. A different kind of event occurred in January 1945, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Malta in anticipation of the Malta Conference with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. To deter any possible enemy attack, nine Spitfire IXs of No. 1435 Squadron, six Mosquito night fighters of No. 256 Squadron, deployed to Hal Far from Grottaglie and Foggia two of the Mosquitos escorting the Prime Minister's Avro York transport aircraft outside Malta and into Luqa airfield on 29 January. All aircraft remained at Hal Far into early February. After the evolution from piston to jet engines in the 1950s, the airfield had to be closed for three weeks for the resurfacing of the runways; the airfield started housing various training camps by the UK-based Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Air Divisions. Training including live depth charges dropping, live armament practice and rocket firing on the uninhabited islet of Filfla, hide and seek exercises with RN submarines in which aircraft sought out and shadowed the underwater'raiders' and carried out mock attacks if they managed to find them.
Several units used HMS Falcon for these annual summer camps, which started in 1950, stopped in 1951, continued from 1952 to 1956. During 1957, the airfield served as a civilian airport while the runways at RAF Luqa were being resurfaced. During 1958 Hal Far was the proving base for the world's first assault helicopter squadron. After being used by the Royal Navy, the Hal Far airfield was returned to the RAF for a short period of time in the mid and 1960s, the last squadron was disbanded on 31 August 1967; this brought to an end 43 active years of Malta's oldest and most historical airfield. It was subsequently served as a satellite for RAF Luqa. Between March 1967 and September 1978 the airfield served as a base for the American aircraft maintenance company M. I. A. Co. During the resurfacing of Luqa's runways, all civilian and military flying was transferred to Hal Far until Luqa became operational again. On 5 August 2010, the Employment & Training Corporation inaugurated an Underground Sick Bay which lies within the premises.
This has been turned into a museum emphasising the period 1923-1945. The website gives an insight of the Museu
Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the continent includes various archipelagos. It contains 54 recognised sovereign states, nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition; the majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, Nigeria is its largest by population. Africa central Eastern Africa, is accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade, as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors as well as ones that have been dated to around 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster—the earliest Homo sapiens, found in Ethiopia, date to circa 200,000 years ago.
Africa encompasses numerous climate areas. Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised all of Africa. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, headquartered in Addis Ababa. Afri was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of then-known northern Africa to the west of the Nile river, in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean; this name seems to have referred to a native Libyan tribe, an ancestor of modern Berbers. The name had been connected with the Phoenician word ʿafar meaning "dust", but a 1981 hypothesis has asserted that it stems from the Berber word ifri meaning "cave", in reference to cave dwellers; the same word may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe from Yafran in northwestern Libya. Under Roman rule, Carthage became the capital of the province it named Africa Proconsularis, following its defeat of the Carthaginians in the Third Punic War in 146 BC, which included the coastal part of modern Libya.
The Latin suffix -ica can sometimes be used to denote a land. The Muslim region of Ifriqiya, following its conquest of the Byzantine Empire's Exarchatus Africae preserved a form of the name. According to the Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while "Asia" was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east. A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy, indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa; as Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of "Africa" expanded with their knowledge. Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa": The 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus asserted that it was named for Epher, grandson of Abraham according to Gen. 25:4, whose descendants, he claimed, had invaded Libya. Isidore of Seville in his 7th-century Etymologiae XIV.5.2. Suggests "Africa comes from the Latin aprica, meaning "sunny".
Massey, in 1881, stated that Africa is derived from the Egyptian af-rui-ka, meaning "to turn toward the opening of the Ka." The Ka is the energetic double of every person and the "opening of the Ka" refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa would be, for the Egyptians, "the birthplace." Michèle Fruyt in 1976 proposed linking the Latin word with africus "south wind", which would be of Umbrian origin and mean "rainy wind". Robert R. Stieglitz of Rutgers University in 1984 proposed: "The name Africa, derived from the Latin *Aphir-ic-a, is cognate to Hebrew Ophir." Ibn Khallikan and some other historians claim that the name of Africa came from a Himyarite king called Afrikin ibn Kais ibn Saifi called "Afrikus son of Abrahah" who subdued Ifriqiya. Africa is considered by most paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent. During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation as early as 7 million years ago.
Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to 3.9–3.0 million years BP, Paranthropus boisei and Homo ergaster have been discovered. After the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens 150,000 to 100,000 years BP in Africa, the continent was populated by groups of hunter-gatherers; these first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent eith
Gozo, known locally as Għawdex and in antiquity as Gaulos, is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is part of Malta. After the island of Malta itself, it is the second-largest island in the archipelago. Compared to its southeastern neighbour, Gozo is more rural and known for its scenic hills, which are featured on its coat of arms; the island of Gozo has long been associated with Ogygia, the island home of the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey. In that story, possessed of great supernatural powers, in love with Odysseus, holds him captive for a number of years, until releasing him to continue his journey home; as of March 2015, the island has a population of around 37,342, its inhabitants are known as Gozitans. It is rich in historic locations such as the Ġgantija temples, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, are among the world's oldest free-standing structures; the island is rural in character and, compared to the main island Malta, less developed.
It was known for the Azure Window, a natural limestone arch, a remarkable geological feature, until its collapse in 2017. The island has other notable natural features, including Wied il-Mielaħ Window. There are many beaches on the island, as well as seaside resorts that are popular with both locals and tourists, the most popular being Marsalforn and Xlendi. Gozo is considered one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean and a centre for water sports. Gozo has been inhabited since 5000 BC, when farmers from nearby Sicily crossed the sea to the island. Due to the discovery of similar pottery found in both places from the Għar Dalam phase, it has been suggested that the first colonists were from the area of Agrigento, they are thought to have first lived in caves on the outskirts of. Gozo was an important place for cultural evolution, during the neolithic period the Ġgantija temples were built; the temple's name is Maltese for "belonging to the giants", because legend in Maltese and Gozitan folklore says the temples were built by giants.
Another important Maltese archaeological site in Gozo, which dates back to the neolithic period, is the Xagħra Stone Circle. Native tradition and certain ancient Greek historians maintain that Gozo is the island Homer described as Ogygia, home of the nymph Calypso. Gozo was occupied by the Carthaginians, it was annexed by Rome around 218 BC and minted its own bronze coins in the 1st century BC. These feature Astarte's head with a crescent obverse and a warrior, a star, the legend Gaulitōn reverse. In July 1551 Ottomans under Sinan Pasha and Dragut invaded and ravaged Gozo and enslaved most of its inhabitants, about 5,000, bringing them to Tarhuna Wa Msalata in Libya, their departure port in Gozo was Mġarr ix-Xini; the island of Gozo was repopulated between 1565 and 1580 by people from mainland Malta, undertaken by the Knights of Malta. The history of Gozo is coupled with the history of Malta, since Gozo has been governed by Malta throughout history, with the brief exception of a short period of autonomy following the uprising against the French forces after Napoleon's conquest of Malta, between 28 October 1798 and 20 August 1801.
The Gozo Civic Council was set up as a statutory local government in the island of Gozo on 14 April 1961, the first experiment in civil local government in Malta since the French occupation of 1798–1800. The law authorised the Council to raise taxes, although it never made use of this power. In 1971 the Malta Labour Party was voted into office; as its support in Gozo was weak and it favoured a more centralised administration it proposed a referendum on the abolition of the Council putting emphasis on the unpopular possibility of it raising taxes. In the Gozo Civic Council referendum, 1973, the overwhelming majority of voters voted for the abolition of the Gozo Civic Council. In the mid-1980s attempts were made to set up a Gozo committee, chaired by the Prime Minister and with the Gozitan Members of Parliament as members. However, it was only in 1987. Local government in the Gozitan localities was restored with the introduction of Local councils in 1993 with Gozo having 14 councils; the island has its own Latin bishopric, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gozo, the only suffragan of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Malta.
Gozo contains a large number of Catholic churches. The Rotunda of Xewkija, in the village of Xewkija, has a capacity of 3,000, enough for the entire population of Xewkija village; the church bells are rung daily for the canonical hours Matins, Terce, Sext and vespers. The most famous church on the island is the sanctuary of Ta' Pinu, near the village of Għarb, in the west of Gozo. In the past, there were various options for reaching the island. A helicopter service which connected the two ceased operations in 2006. Visitors can reach the island by ferry. There are regular crossings between the port of Mġarr on Gozo and Ċirkewwa on the north-west coast of Malta; the Gozo Channel Line makes the trip every 45 minutes during the summer and as in the winter. A return journey takes around 25 minutes each way; the service is used by tourists and comm
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the British government department responsible for implementing the defence policy set by Her Majesty's Government and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces. The MOD states that its principal objectives are to defend the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and its interests and to strengthen international peace and stability. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the MOD does not foresee any short-term conventional military threat; the MOD manages day-to-day running of the armed forces, contingency planning and defence procurement. During the 1920s and 1930s, British civil servants and politicians, looking back at the performance of the state during the First World War, concluded that there was a need for greater co-ordination between the three services that made up the armed forces of the United Kingdom—the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force; the formation of a united ministry of defence was rejected by David Lloyd George's coalition government in 1921.
As rearmament became a concern during the 1930s, Stanley Baldwin created the position of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence. Lord Chatfield held the post until the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in 1940. Winston Churchill, on forming his government in 1940, created the office of Minister of Defence to exercise ministerial control over the Chiefs of Staff Committee and to co-ordinate defence matters; the post was held by the Prime Minister of the day until Clement Attlee's government introduced the Ministry of Defence Act of 1946. The new ministry was headed by a Minister of Defence; the three existing service Ministers—the First Lord of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Air—remained in direct operational control of their respective services, but ceased to attend Cabinet. From 1946 to 1964 five Departments of State did the work of the modern Ministry of Defence: the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Aviation, an earlier form of the Ministry of Defence.
These departments merged in 1964. The Ministers in the Ministry of Defence are as follows: The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the British Armed Forces and the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister; the CDS is supported by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff who deputises and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the armed services aspect of the MOD through the Central Staff, working alongside the Permanent Secretary. They are joined by the professional heads of the three British armed services and the Commander of Joint Forces Command. All personnel sit at OF-9 rank in the NATO rank system. Together the Chiefs of Staff form the Chiefs of Staff Committee with responsibility for providing advice on operational military matters and the preparation and conduct of military operations; the current Chiefs of Staff are as follows. Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Nick Carter Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff – General Sir Gordon Messenger First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff – Admiral Sir Philip Jones Chief of the General Staff – General Mark Carleton-Smith Chief of the Air Staff – Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier Commander of Joint Forces Command – General Sir Christopher Deverell The Chief of Staff is supported by several other senior military personnel at OF-8 rank.
Chief of Defence People – Lieutenant General Richard Nugee Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Douglas Chalmers Deputy Chief of Defence Staff – Lieutenant-General Mark Poffley Chief of Joint Operations - Vice-Admiral Timothy Fraser Defence Senior Adviser Middle East - Lieutenant-General John LorimerAdditionally, there are a number of Assistant Chiefs of Defence Staff, including the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff and the Defence Services Secretary in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, the Assistant Chief of Defence Staff. Permanent Secretary and other senior officials The Ministers and Chiefs of the Defence Staff are supported by several civilian and professional military advisors; the Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence is the senior civil servant at the MOD. Their role is to ensure that it operates as a government department and has responsibility for the strategy, reform and the finances of the MOD; the role works with the Chief of the Defence Staff in leading the organisation and supporting Ministers in the conduct of business in the Department across the full range of responsibilities.
Permanent Under-Secretary of State – Stephen Lovegrove Director General Finance – Cat Little Director General Head Office and Commissioning Services – Julie Taylor Director General Nuclear – Julian Kelly Director General Security Policy – Peter Watkins MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte MOD Chief Scientific Adviser – Professor Robin Grimes Lead Non-Executive Board Member – Sir Gerry Gri
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli War named the Tripartite Aggression in the Arab world and Operation Kadesh or Sinai War in Israel, was an invasion of Egypt in late 1956 by Israel, followed by the United Kingdom and France. The aims were to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had just nationalized the canal. After the fighting had started, political pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Nations led to a withdrawal by the three invaders; the episode humiliated the United France and strengthened Nasser. On 29 October, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai. Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to cease fire, ignored. On 5 November and France landed paratroopers along the Suez Canal; the Egyptian forces were defeated. It became clear that the Israeli invasion and the subsequent Anglo-French attack had been planned beforehand by the three countries; the three allies had attained a number of their military objectives.
Heavy political pressure from the United States and the USSR led to a withdrawal. U. S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had warned Britain not to invade. Historians conclude the crisis "signified the end of Great Britain's role as one of the world's major powers"; the Suez Canal was closed from October 1956 until March 1957. Israel fulfilled some of its objectives, such as attaining freedom of navigation through the Straits of Tiran, which Egypt had blocked to Israeli shipping since 1950; as a result of the conflict, the United Nations created the UNEF Peacekeepers to police the Egyptian–Israeli border, British Prime Minister Anthony Eden resigned, Canadian Minister of External Affairs Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize, the USSR may have been emboldened to invade Hungary. The Suez Canal was opened in 1869, after ten years of work financed by the French and Egyptian governments; the canal was operated by the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal, an Egyptian-chartered company. The canal became strategically important, as it provided the shortest ocean link between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.
The canal eased commerce for trading nations and helped European colonial powers to gain and govern their colonies. In 1875, as a result of debt and financial crisis, Egypt was forced to sell its shares in the canal operating company to the British government of Benjamin Disraeli, they were willing buyers and obtained a 44 percent share in the canal's operations for less than £4 million. With the 1882 invasion and occupation of Egypt, the United Kingdom took de facto control of the country as well as the canal proper, its finances and operations; the 1888 Convention of Constantinople declared the canal a neutral zone under British protection. In ratifying it, the Ottoman Empire agreed to permit international shipping to pass through the canal, in time of war and peace; the Convention came into force in 1904, the same year as the Entente cordiale between Britain and France. Despite this convention, the strategic importance of the Suez Canal and its control were proven during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, after Japan and Britain entered into a separate bilateral agreement.
Following the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet based at Port Arthur, the Russians sent reinforcements from their fleet in the Baltic Sea. The British denied the Russian fleet use of the canal and forced it to steam around Africa, giving the Japanese forces time to consolidate their position in East Asia; the importance of the canal as a strategic intersection was again apparent during the First World War, when Britain and France closed the canal to non-Allied shipping. The attempt by German-led Ottoman forces to storm the canal in February 1915 led the British to commit 100,000 troops to the defense of Egypt for the rest of the war; the canal continued to be strategically important after the Second World War as a conduit for the shipment of oil. Petroleum business historian Daniel Yergin wrote of the period: "In 1948, the canal abruptly lost its traditional rationale.... Control over the canal could no longer be preserved on grounds that it was critical to the defence either of India or of an empire, being liquidated.
And yet, at the same moment, the canal was gaining a new role—as the highway not of empire, but of oil.... By 1955, petroleum accounted for half of the canal's traffic, and, in turn, two thirds of Europe's oil passed through it". At the time, Western Europe imported two million barrels per day from the Middle East, 1,200,000 by tanker through the canal, another 800,000 via pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, where tankers received it; the US imported another 300,000 barrels daily from the Middle East. Though pipelines linked the oil fields of Iraq and the Persian Gulf states to the Mediterranean, these routes were prone to suffer from instability, which led British leaders to prefer to use the sea route through the Suez Canal; as it was, the rise of super-tankers for shipping Middle East oil to Europe, which were too big to use the Suez Canal meant that British policy-makers overestimated the importance of the canal. By 2000, only 8 percent of the imported oil in Britain arrived via the Suez canal with the rest coming via the Cape route.
In August 1956 the Royal Institute of International Affairs published a report titled "Britain and the
Asphalt known as bitumen, is a sticky and viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was used; the word is derived from the Ancient Greek ἄσφαλτος ásphaltos. The primary use of asphalt is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete, its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs. The terms "asphalt" and "bitumen" are used interchangeably to mean both natural and manufactured forms of the substance. In American English, "asphalt" is used for a refined residue from the distillation process of selected crude oils. Outside the United States, the product is called "bitumen", geologists worldwide prefer the term for the occurring variety. Common colloquial usage refers to various forms of asphalt as "tar", as in the name of the La Brea Tar Pits.
Occurring asphalt is sometimes specified by the term "crude bitumen". Its viscosity is similar to that of cold molasses while the material obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil boiling at 525 °C is sometimes referred to as "refined bitumen"; the Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world's reserves of natural asphalt in the Athabasca oil sands, which cover 142,000 square kilometres, an area larger than England. The word "asphalt" is derived from the late Middle English, in turn from French asphalte, based on Late Latin asphalton, the latinisation of the Greek ἄσφαλτος, a word meaning "asphalt/bitumen/pitch", which derives from ἀ-, "without" and σφάλλω, "make fall"; the first use of asphalt by the ancients was in the nature of a cement for securing or joining together various objects, it thus seems that the name itself was expressive of this application. Herodotus mentioned that bitumen was brought to Babylon to build its gigantic fortification wall. From the Greek, the word passed into late Latin, thence into French and English.
In French, the term asphalte is used for occurring asphalt-soaked limestone deposits, for specialised manufactured products with fewer voids or greater bitumen content than the "asphaltic concrete" used to pave roads. The expression "bitumen" originated in the Sanskrit words jatu, meaning "pitch", jatu-krit, meaning "pitch creating" or "pitch producing"; the Latin equivalent is claimed by some to be gwitu-men, by others, subsequently shortened to bitumen, thence passing via French into English. From the same root is derived the Anglo-Saxon word cwidu, the German word Kitt and the old Norse word kvada. In British English, "bitumen" is used instead of "asphalt"; the word "asphalt" is instead used to refer to asphalt concrete, a mixture of construction aggregate and asphalt itself. Bitumen mixed with clay was called "asphaltum", but the term is less used today. In Australian English, the word "asphalt" is used to describe a mix of construction aggregate. "Bitumen" refers to the liquid derived from the heavy-residues from crude oil distillation.
In American English, "asphalt" is equivalent to the British "bitumen". However, "asphalt" is commonly used as a shortened form of "asphalt concrete". In Canadian English, the word "bitumen" is used to refer to the vast Canadian deposits of heavy crude oil, while "asphalt" is used for the oil refinery product. Diluted bitumen is known as "dilbit" in the Canadian petroleum industry, while bitumen "upgraded" to synthetic crude oil is known as "syncrude", syncrude blended with bitumen is called "synbit"."Bitumen" is still the preferred geological term for occurring deposits of the solid or semi-solid form of petroleum. "Bituminous rock" is a form of sandstone impregnated with bitumen. The oil sands of Alberta, Canada are a similar material. Neither of the terms "asphalt" or "bitumen" should be confused with coal tars. Tar is the thick liquid product of the dry distillation and pyrolysis of organic hydrocarbons sourced from vegetation masses, whether fossilized as with coal, or freshly harvested; the majority of bitumen, on the other hand, was formed when vast quantities of organic animal materials were deposited by water and buried hundreds of metres deep at the diagenetic point, where the disorganized fatty hydrocarbon molecules joined together in long chains in the absence of oxygen.
Bitumen occurs as a solid or viscous liquid. It may be mixed in with coal deposits. Bitumen, coal using the Bergius process, can be refined into petrols such as gasoline, bitumen may be distilled into tar, not the other way around; the components of asphalt include four main classes of compounds: Naphthene aromatics, consisting of hydrogenated polycyclic aromatic compounds Polar aromatics, consisting of high molecular weight phenols and carboxylic acids produced by partial oxidation of the material Saturated hydrocarbons. Most natural bitumens a