740.0011 European War 1939/6491: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State

3639. The British Government has received both through the Greek Minister in London and the British Minister at Athens a long list of military requirements which the Greek Government desires urgently, covering the greatest variety of ammunition and different kinds of armament. According to a responsible Foreign Office official, although this request is now being given careful study by the departments concerned it will not be possible to meet all of the Greek desires, some of which were characterized as being beyond any reasonable requirement. It is quite evident that America is being looked to as the eventual source of supply for at least some of this material, and I understand that the British have under consideration working the matter through Purvis72 with instructions for him to give all the assistance that he can, compatible with the good will of the American authorities and with British requirements, in support of Greek endeavors [Page 581]to fill their needs in the United States. The Foreign Office informed me that the Greek Minister had stated a copy of the list of requirements he gave to the Foreign Office was likewise being given to me but I have not yet received it.

Responsible and well-informed officials with whom I have had various conversations on the subject of the new situation in the Mediterranean show, perhaps involuntarily, their satisfaction that the British forces in the Mediterranean will now have more advantageous bases for holding the eastern part of the sea and for offensive action against Italy. They speak of Great Britain’s determination to give Greece all aid possible. Almost in the same breath however they manifest doubt as to the amount of material assistance which Great Britain will be able to give. Having advantageous bases in Crete and [apparent omission] is only of relative value, if defense against enemy bombers is inadequate and I have found little sign of certainty that sufficient help can be brought in time to save Greece itself from being overrun. Expressions of confidence go rather to a long view and to the improved position in the Mediterranean which occupation of Greek island and other bases should afford the British Fleet and Air Force.

  1. Arthur Blaikie Purvis, Director-General of the British Purchasing Commission, and Chairman of the Anglo-French Purchasing Board.