Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs ( Henderson ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

We have learned that the British Minister Sir John Balfour, when, calling on you this morning at 9 o’clock, will present you two notes,1 one relating to Greece and the other to Turkey. Summaries of these two notes are attached hereto.2

The essence of these two notes is that although Great Britain appreciates how important it is that Greece and Turkey should not fall under Soviet influence, it feels itself unable, in view of the economic situation in Great Britain, any longer to bear the major share of the burden of rendering assistance in the form of money and military equipment which Greece and Turkey should have if they are to preserve their territorial integrity and political independence. In the notes, therefore, the British Government asks whether the U.S. Government is willing to undertake the major share of this burden.

In view of the urgency of this situation, the notes also suggest that there be immediate consultation in Washington between the British and American members of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in order to determine what type of assistance should and could be extended to enable Greece and Turkey to survive.

Because of the major importance of the British decision reflected in these notes, it is believed that you may care to limit any remarks to [Page 43] Sir John Balfour when receiving them to a statement to the effect that you are fully aware of the economic difficulties which Great Britain is facing at the present time; that the notes will be given urgent sympathetic study; and that a reply will be given at the earliest possible moment.

L[oy] W. H[enderson]
  1. The notes were actually presented by the British Ambassador; see Mr. Henderson’s memorandum, infra.
  2. Neither printed.