Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. George V. Allen of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs
I telephoned today to Mr. Condouriotis70 and, referring to his conversation with Mr. Ailing of January 17, 1941,71 asked whether he had received any indication from his Government regarding the acceptability of the thirty United States naval training planes offered to the Greek Government. Mr. Condouriotis said that his Legation had telegraphed the offer to Athens two or three days ago, but that no reply had yet been received. He thought a reply should be received by tomorrow, January 23. Mr. Condouriotis said that in the telegram to Athens the Legation had pointed out that the question of payment for the planes had not yet arisen.
I asked Mr. Condouriotis whether a representative of the Legation had talked to Admiral Towers71a about the planes as suggested by Mr. Ailing on January 17. Mr. Condouriotis said that this had not been done, since no one connected with the Legation, including the military attachés now here, was familiar with aviation matters. He said that an aviation expert to be attached to the Legation was at present en route to the United States, having sailed from Capetown on January 4 on the S. S. President Grant, due to arrive in New York about January 26. He said that discussions with Admiral Towers would be deferred until this expert arrives.
I asked Mr. Condouriotis if it was his Legation’s understanding that these thirty planes would be in lieu of the thirty P–40 planes which the Greek Government had been promised. His reply was, “Absolutely not.” He said that his Government felt that it must obtain fighter planes immediately and to the exclusion of any other consideration. He said that at the meeting in Mr. Morgenthau’s office when the offer of thirty naval training planes was made, Mr. Morgenthau, Mr. Philip Young, an Admiral, and the Greek Minister were present. He said that the Greek Minister had asked specifically whether the offer of naval training planes was in lieu of the P–40 fighters and [Page 680] that the Greek Minister had been informed that there was no connection between the two offers.
I asked Mr. Condouriotis for his understanding of the present situation with regard to the Mohawk-Tomahawk offer. He said that his Legation had not kept up with the offer of the British Government to furnish the Greek Government with thirty Mohawk planes. He said that he hoped very much that this offer would be made by the British and accepted by his Government, but that he did not understand that even this offer was in lieu of the thirty P–40 planes promised by the American Government. He said that his Government had at all times wanted to obtain sixty fighter planes and that his Legation had been given to understand several times, and had so informed his Government, that the offer of the United States to allow Greece to obtain thirty fighter planes in this country still stood.