Monday, December 12, 2005
Churchill on the "decision to aid Greece"
I thought it worth looking at Churchill's rationale for going into Greece in his book The Grand Alliance. With our hindsight, the decision looks like a bad idea, and the consequences were grave. In early 1941, plans had been made to send forces to Greece, but there were no hard committments. Admiral Cunningham had warned of the dangers involved in such an enterprise. The potential allies in the Balkans, the Greeks, Yugoslavs, and Turks all had decided that the British could send such small forces that they could not affect the issue. That was the reason that the Turks turned down any cooperation with the British. We might say, in this day, that they were correct in their assessment. The decision was made partly because commanders such as General Wavell seemed ready to be involved and because the brain trust in Britain hated to not contest a German attack in the Balkans, particularly if it might mean the loss of Greece, Yugoslavia and Turkey. They thought that if Yugloslavia showed any inclination to stand with the Allies, that forces should be sent into the Balkans to support the Greeks and Turks. This is based on the account in Churchill's book The Grand Alliance.