868.48/2002: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

180. Department’s 5630, December 3, 11 p.m. and Department’s 44, January 5, 7 p.m. I have just received the following letter dated January 12 signed by Mr. Eden:12

“I have seen your letter of the 6th of January to Sargent13 about food for Greece.

I am very sorry indeed that we have not so far been able to give you a reply on this question. The reason is that the subject is receiving immediate and very serious attention at this moment and we wish to let you have our considered views.

I will write to you again immediately I am in a position to do so.

I can, however, give you the facts as regards the Axis propaganda story that we are preventing the despatch to Greece of wheat bought by the Greek Government. There were at the time of the occupation of Greece several cargoes of wheat and flour afloat which had been purchased by the Greek Government. The situation was fully discussed at all stages with the Greek authorities, in particular with the Greek Shipping Committee, and it was agreed that His Majesty’s Government should take over the cargoes of cereals owned by the Greek Government at the free on board price paid by them. It was also agreed that should any of the cargoes be required for the purposes of the Greek Government in unoccupied Greek territory or for the Greek forces, they could be released for that purpose. At no time was any objection raised to this arrangement by any Greek authority though the Greek shipping committee did ask that the goods should be transferred to His Majesty’s Government by way of agreement rather than by requisition, a request which we were glad to meet. The cargoes in question have of course long since been disposed of by the Middle East Supply Center. You will appreciate therefore that there is no substance whatever in the allegation that we are preventing the despatch of these cargoes to Greece.

As the Greek authorities acted throughout of their own free will in the arrangements made as regards these cargoes we have so far thought it best not to broadcast the full facts of the case in answer to the Axis stories, since we do not wish to cause any possible embarrassment to the Greek Government. It is, however, obvious that Allied shipping could not proceed to enemy occupied ports and the arrangements agreed upon between ourselves and the Greek Government were clearly necessary and reasonable.[”]

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Sir Orme Sargent, British Deputy Under Secretary of State.