In the Mediterranean. Italy entered the war on June 10, 1940, with an army of 1,500,000, a modern navy, and a highly rated air force. The first naval action in the Mediterranean came on July 20. It resulted in the sinking of the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleone by the Australian cruiser Sydney. Italy attacked Greece on October 28, and the British, in an effort to secure the eastern Mediterranean, sent troops to the Greek island of Crete. The British struck at the Italian fleet at Taranto on November 11-12. In this action, planes from the carrier Illustrious damaged three battleships and a cruiser, crippling the Italian fleet.