Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A forelorn cause: fighting the Germans in Greece in early 1941

The British had opened a successful campaign against the Italians, and by early January 1941, were driving the Italians back to the west. At the same time, Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff concluded that they could not make an effective effort against the Germans in Greece. Perversely, they decided that they had no choice and must send forces to aid the Greeks in the fight. They would be entering the country on what was known to be a lost cause. Despite the continuing successes against the Italians, the army would be stripped of troops to be sent to Greece. The air forces would also be reduced and what was withdrawn would accompany the troops to Greece. A small force was offered immediately: an infantry tank squadron, a cruiser tank regiment, and several artillery regiments. General Wavel and Air Chief Marshal Longmore were sent to inform the Greek General Metaxis of what they could to to help. They told him that they could send two or three divisions in the next two months. General Metaxis declined the offer, as what could be sent seemed inadequate and he did not want to offend the Germans. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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