Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Misinformation about the Greek campaign in March 1941

The Australian government thought that they could not refuse to participate in "a good cause" while taking a "great risk". It turns out that Churchill claimed that generals Blamey, the Australian, and General Freyberg had been consulted about the Greek operation, in fact they were never asked for their opinion. Churchill misrepresented the facts to get the Australians to agree. One argument was that the Americans did not want to "abandon Greece" who "had been good Allies". What undercut Churchill was that on 9 March, General Blamey asked for permission from the Minister for the Army to submit his opinion on the Greek operation, The Australian cabinet knew that they were already committed and that they had been told that Blamey "was agreeable". General Blamey thought that there were reasons to agree to the Greek Campaign: Failure to support Greece would be to opinion in Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. The reasons to not proceed with the Greek operation included: the effect of a defeat, the need for an evacuation of British and Commonwealth forces, and the effect on opinion in Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey, as well as on Japan. Blamey thought that the military operation was "extremely hazardous" because of the greater German forces and the relatively untrained British and Commonwealth troops.
When General Wavell had told Blamey about the plans for the Greek operation, he told Blamey that he had already talked with the Australian government. Wavell did not ask for Blamey's opinion, probably because he thought he would disagree. This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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