Paris Peace Conf. 180.03401/148 IC–181F

Notes of a Meeting Held at Mr. Lloyd George’s Residence, 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Wednesday, May 7, at Noon

  • Present
    • The United States of America
      • President Wilson.
    • France
      • Monsieur Clemenceau.
    • The British Empire
      • The Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd George, M. P.
      • General Sir Henry Wilson, G. C. B. D. S. O., Chief of the Imperial General Staff.
      • Rear-Admiral G. P. W. Hope, C. B, Director of Operations Division Admiralty War Staff.
    • Greece
      • Monsieur Venizelos.
Sir Maurice Hankey, K. C. B., Secretary.
Prof. P. J. Mantoux, Interpreter.

1. The Conference had before it the conclusions of a conference held in the Hotel Astoria, Paris, on May 6th, 1919. (Appendix.)

Despatch of Greek Troops to Smyrna M. Venizelos said that a Greek division could very well be sent from Macedonia; General Franchet d’Esperey had announced that the Greek Division was not required there.

Mr. Lloyd George asked what troops Greece had immediately available to send to Smyrna.

M. Venizelos said the total was two divisions without weakening the position in Macedonia, but troops could not be spared from Thrace until Greek troops had been brought from Russia.

Mr. Lloyd George asked how soon two divisions could be transported to Smyrna.

Admiral Hope said that a transport had been ordered to carry one division as soon as possible from Salonika and Kavalla to Smyrna. At the present time, however, the ships were very much scattered and, at the moment, he could not say what ships could be made available in the Eastern Mediterranean, or how soon. Once the ships were assembled it would only take about a day to transport them from Salonika to Smyrna. In reply to President Wilson, he said he had no means of guessing how long it would take to assemble the ships. In reply to Mr. Lloyd George, he said that he was going back to London tomorrow and in a day or two would be able to let him know the exact position.

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President Wilson suggested that in the meantime the divisions should be got ready.

M. Venizelos said that one division was ready now, and it was proposed that they should be embarked at the port of Lef tera.

Admiral Hope said he understood that there was no heavy artillery attached to this division, only mountain artillery; in that case it could be embarked in the Bay of Kavalla, but heavy artillery could only be embarked from Salonika.

General Wilson, in reply to Mr. Lloyd George, said that, between Salonika and the Dardanelles, the Turks only had about three divisions. During the war the strength of the Turkish division had been reckoned at about 6,000 men but towards the end of the war they had died down to almost nothing. Of course, however, a division could be filled up.

M. Venizelos said that a Greek division comprised of 9,000 rifles, and 16,000 of all ranks. He understood that many of the Turkish divisions were reduced to the size of a regiment.

General Wilson thought that probably there was no very formidable Turkish force in this region.

Mr. Lloyd George suggested that the British ships at Smyrna might supply some information.

Admiral Hope doubted if they had any facilities for obtaining information as to the military forces.

General Wilson said that his news all came from Constantinople.

President Wilson said he supposed that the Armistice gave the Allies the right to send troops.

M. Venizelos said that more than 30,000 Greek citizens in the town of Smyrna were in danger from the Turks.

President Wilson said that this provided a very strong reason for protecting them.

General Wilson said that it was true the Allies had power to land troops, but the Italians also had the right.

M. Venizelos pointed out that the Italians had landed in Adalia without consulting the Allies.

President Wilson said that if Greek troops were sent, the Italians could hardly land troops unless they intended to break with the Allies.

General Wilson raised the question of the command of the troops. He understood that the Greek divisions were to come away from the command of General Franchet d’Esperey without being placed under the command of General Milne or any other Allied commander. They would constitute an allied force under Greek command.

M. Clemenceau, President Wilson, and Mr. Lloyd George agreed in this.

President Wilson raised the question as to whether the Turkish Government ought to be warned of the intention to land troops.

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M. Venizelos thought that they ought, but only just before the landing took place. He, himself, knew the Turks well and he thought that if they received no warning, except just before the event, no resistance would be offered. Of course, however, there were some risks. All the facilities for landing were available.

Mr. Lloyd George asked whether there was not a danger that the Commander of the Fort would fire on the Greek ships when the landing began.

M. Venizelos said that the danger would be of their firing from the forts when the ships were entering the Gulf of Smyrna.

President Wilson thought that they would not fire on the transports.

M. Venizelos agreed that they probably would not fire, if the transports were convoyed.

M. Clemenceau suggested it would be safer to warn the Turks.

President Wilson agreed that this would undoubtedly be the correct procedure. But if the Turks were warned too far in advance they would make preparations. He suggested that no communication should be made to the Turks until the troops were on board.

Mr. Lloyd George asked if M. Venizelos had warned the Greeks to keep the matter quiet.

M. Venizelos said he had taken all possible measures with this object. All available Greek ships were being collected but they were mostly very small. It would be necessary to crowd the ships very closely but Greek soldiers would not object to this. The ships should be dispatched as soon as possible.

Mr. Lloyd George, summing up the conclusions of the meeting, said that:—

Admiral Hope was to proceed to England to ascertain all details about the number of ships available for transport and the time required; to give orders for the concentration of these ships at Salonika; and to inform him as soon as possible of the results of his mission.
M. Venizelos was to collect as many Greek transports as possible at Kavalla, and to arrange for the troops to be ready to embark.

M. Venizelos said that one division was sufficient to start with.

M. Clemenceau, in reply to Mr. Lloyd George, said that General Franchet d’Esperey already knew of the expedition. He asked if anything was to be said to the Italians.

Mr. Lloyd George was reminded by Sir Maurice Hankey that Admiral Calthorpe, who was at the same time the British Naval Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean and Diplomatic Representative at Constantinople, had repeatedly insisted on the importance of his being informed whenever any redisposition of troops was made in the Eastern Mediterranean. He had, for example, complained of not [Page 504] being informed when the Italian battalion was sent to Konia. The reason for this was that he wished to be able to make such dispositions as might be necessary to safeguard against the reaction of these movements in other parts of Turkey.

Mr. Lloyd George said that the fewer people who were informed, the better.

Admiral Hope said that Admiral Calthorpe must be told, as he was Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet. He suggested that this should be done by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

President Wilson suggested that Admiral Calthorpe should be cautioned as to the great importance of secrecy.

M. Venizelos said that it would be extremely difficult to keep the matter secret as the concentration of ships would soon become known.

(The Meeting then adjourned.)

Villa Majestic, Paris, 7 May, 1919.


Conclusions of a Conference Held in Hotel Astoria, Paris, at 4:30 p.m., 6 May, 1919

  • Present
    • M. Venizelos, Admiral Hope, General Belin, General Bliss, General Sir H. Wilson
The Supreme Council having agreed to the immediate despatch of Greek troops to Smyrna and the occupation of that town by purely Greek forces, we decided:—
To notify General Franchet d’Esperey.
To order one Greek division to prepare to embark at Salonika.
To order a second Greek Division to get ready.
To collect transport for the move of one Division as rapidly as possible.
To examine what steps may be necessary to safeguard the journey.
To take steps to keep up the necessary communication between Greece and Smyrna.
We are of opinion that these troops are under Greek Command and in no sense under International Command except possibly during the sea-transit.
We are of opinion that if the Turks or the Italians or both oppose a landing we shall find ourselves in face of a difficult problem and we draw attention to this possibility.
We presume the Italian and Turkish Governments will be informed as we are not sure whether such action is covered by the Armistice Terms.
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Copies to:—

  • Prime Minister.
  • Colonel Sir. M. Hankey.
  • Admiral Hope.
  • General Bliss.
  • D. M. O.
  • D. M. I.
  • Lord Hardinge.
  • M. Venizelos.
  • General Albi (French G. H. Q.)
  • General Weygand.
  • C. I. G. S.