Friday, November 05, 2021

The decision to withdraw from Greece

 I was interested to read that General Wilson expressed the opinion that his men could "hold Thermopylae indefinitely". My reaction to that is that the Germans should have been able to bring up a strong enough force that they could break through the line at Thermopylae. 

The British senior commanders were a strong group with great experience. Their opinion was that they should take the consequences of a withdrawal and should go ahead and execute the plan. None of what it would have taken to stand and fight was realistically available. The Greeks were in a state of collapse by late April 1941.

The British commanders thought that they "would be lucky to pull out 30 per cent of the force". I don't remember the exact figures, but I think that they did much better than that in reality.

There was a final meeting of the key players, including the Greek King. General Wavell offered to fight "as long as the Greeks fought." If the Greek government asked, the British would go ahead and pull out of Greece. 

Churchill really did not want to withdraw without further fighting. That was not possible at this point, given the facts on the ground. The Greek arm was about to surrender. There was one last battle fought by the RAF in Greece. They were hit by a German air attack, but managed to fight successfully one last time in the air. 15 Hurricanes sortied and intercepted the German attack. They lost five Hurricanes but show down many German aircraft This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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