868.24/121: Telegram

The Minister in Greece (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State

72. My telegram No. 71, February 12, noon.79 The Prime Minister79a called me to his office last night and handed to me a further appeal, note 5029 dated February 11th, for supplies of American war material to Greece. After referring to the efforts of his predecessor, the late General Metaxas, see my telegrams 353, December 9, noon,80 and 379, December 27, 6 p.m.,81 as well as those of the Greek Minister at Washington, all of which have so far been fruitless, the body of the note continues as follows in translation:

“The need for material is more cruelly felt every day. In particular the necessity of strengthening Greek aviation is the most urgent of all. I do not desire to elaborate on this latter question which is known to Your Excellency in all its details. I limit myself to the observation that at the present time 3½ months after Greece’s entry into war following the unjustified aggression of a great power the supply of this desperately needed aviation material has not been accomplished. As you are aware, since the extreme urgency of this question did not permit the Greek Government to await arrangements for the supply of American war material on credit, it had set aside from its slender resources in dollars the sum necessary for the purchase of the planes required, the transportation of which furthermore was to be effected by Greek means. Consequently there has been no obstacle to the acquisition of the material in question except that of diverting from American production the small number of planes promised to Greece since the 20th of last November by the Government of the United States. Meanwhile the Greek Air Force, called upon to confront an enemy possessing crushingly superior means, has been deprived of reenforcement sufficient even to replace the wear and tear of 3½ months of warfare.

As regards the supply of other material we have so far received only 2,000 57-millimeter shells from old stocks of the American Navy.

Meanwhile the situation appears to be taking a critical turn in the Balkans. No one can say what dangers we will have to face in the [Page 691] near future, even more serious than those we have been meeting thus far. If in these circumstances we are not effectively aided while there is still time the consequences may be grave and the ensuing developments unforeseeable.”