- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1998 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The debate will never cease on the wisdom or otherwise of the decision by Churchilll’s war cabinet to send troops to assist the Greek Army in 1941. Field Marshal Earl Wavell summed up the effect of the Greek Campaign as follows:
Presumably had we chosen to abandon Greece we could have consolidated our position in Cyrenaica, though it would have still been the scene of bitter fighting and we could not have advanced to Tripoli without much further reinforcement; we should have had the troops to counter Axis plans in Iraq and Syria with less anxiety and difficulty. So much we should have gained. But I do not believe that we could have held Crete with Greece in the possession of the enemy.
On the other hand, the evidence is clear that our intervention in Greece delayed the German attack on Russia by several weeks and thus saved Moscow from falling in the winter of 1941. Though the German forces employed in Greece and Yugoslavia were comparatively small, they included a high proportion of armoured troops who had to drive long distances. It was the delay in returning and reconditioning these that caused the postponement of the attack on Russia. This cannot, of course, be claimed as a justification of our decision in March, since we knew nothing at the time of Hitler’s contemplated treachery towards his ally – though we may have had our suspicions. Our decision was taken on other grounds.
Field Marshall Earl Wavell, “The British Expedition to Greece”
Australian Army Journal, July 1950 – (Courtesy of the NSW Military Historical Society)