More aid for Greece?

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OldBill
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More aid for Greece?

Post by OldBill » 16 Nov 2017 22:50

In my readings, I've been struck by just how much American weaponry had been ordered by the European countries (in particular France) which was never delivered to its intended destination, and instead was taken over by the UK. In addition to the hundreds of aircraft ordered by France and Belgium, the French Army had ordered several thousand trucks and motorcycles from the US. Why wasn't some of that diverted to Greece? The UK took delivery of much of it, and paid for it. It seems though, that if a portion of the aircraft and motor vehicles had been sent to Greece then 8th Army might not have had to send forces to Greece, with all the attendant ripple effects.. Shipping would have been difficult, unless it was sent directly from the US in US vessels, while we were still neutral.

Knouterer
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by Knouterer » 17 Nov 2017 11:41

The British did in fact take over all outstanding French orders in the US. They did not necessarily want all of it, but the French insisted it was all or nothing. As one of the French officers involved in the negotations said: "You cannot pick our bones after we have fallen." The all-encompassing deal was concluded just in time before the armistice; the new Vichy government might well have tried to block it.

However, in reply to the question, Greece was neutral at this time (until the end of October) so did not qualify for British military aid and probably could not have paid for it. In any case, the equipment in question did not arrive in significant quantities before 1941, by which time it was already too late to share much of it with Greece. Still it can be argued the British might have done more and sooner.
"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

OldBill
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by OldBill » 17 Nov 2017 16:37

Thanks Knouterer. The history of some of the smaller unwilling participants in WWII have always held a fascination for me, especially Greece. The Greeks did a lot with what they had, I keep wondering how things would have gone if they'd been just a bit more well equipped, making them stronger, possibly enough to keep Benny from jumping them.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 17 Nov 2017 17:17

Don't forget that it wasn't that easy for the British to get these supplies to Greece in late 1940 - early 1941. There are lists of equipment that was shipped to Greece, especially from Middle East but you must not forget the parlous state of British equipment at this time.

Regards
Tom

OldBill
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by OldBill » 18 Nov 2017 03:18

I know Tom, the Brits/Commonwealth were stretched pretty thin in those days. Even in doling out captured Italian equipment, they had to be careful of what they gave, if for no other reason in the difficulty in getting more aid there. There were only so many ships to be had. The UK paid for the gear the French ordered, its a shame some couldn't have gone on Greek or US bottoms to Greece before the Italian attack. That however, would have required a bit more God like foresight than Metaxas (or any other mortal for that matter) had.

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jwsleser
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by jwsleser » 22 Nov 2017 20:49

OldBill

This issue is discussed in several books. Transport was already mentioned but not a big problem.

The main issues were factory capacity and the UKs own requirements. US factories couldn't taken on additional orders. The UK was loath to release material to Greece when it was also in critical need for A/A, A/T, and fighter aircraft (these were the main requests of the Greek government). The French and Belgium aircraft orders were without radios and armaments as those would be provided by the purchasing country. Neither Greece nor the UK could supply the ammunition for those aircraft that did have weapons as the 50 cal ammo wasn't yet held in any stocks. The UK did agree to release some aircraft in 1941, but by then it was too late and none of it arrived.

One must remember that no one expected the Greeks to defeat the Italian offensive or have the success in pushing the Italians out of Greece (which included the Greeks). It is not until December that everyone got serious about supplying the Greeks for the long term. Everything up until then was 'we need it now', later won't help.

This was why the UK agreed to supply Italian equipment captured in A.S. The material was already in the Med. and there was sufficient stockage of captured ammo. The problem was the artillery required new breech blocks and sights be manufactured (or found) as these had been removed by the Italians. Spare parts needs to be collected and organized, troops trained on maintenance, etc. (same issues that also affected the use of US manufactured equipment). British workshops were busy trying to refit the units involved in Compass and East Africa. The time wasn't there to make it work.

Pista! Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
5th Greek Regiment
9th reggimento bersaglieri

OldBill
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by OldBill » 23 Nov 2017 01:37

Thanks Jeff. I think Rumsfeld said it best (different conflict, but true nonetheless) "'You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

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jwsleser
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Re: More aid for Greece?

Post by jwsleser » 26 Nov 2017 00:22

One cite to support my previous comments. From the UK official The Mediterranean and Middle East volume 1 page 335.
The three ships of convoy 'Excess', whose eventful passage was described in the last chapter, had brought a welcome contribution of vehicles and stores of all kinds, and some field and anti-aircraft guns and ammunition. But the whole problem of arranging for the supply of war material to Greece was vey complicated. The Greeks had started the war with a large variety of weapons mainly of French and German make. In England there was no ammunition for these types; in the United States of America the small remaining stocks of French ammunition had either been delivered to Greece or were on their way. Further orders on the United States of America would affect the British armaments program and in any case could not be met in time for Greece to receive supplies before the end of 1941. The only satisfactory solution would be to re-equip the Greek forces with British weapons. This, however, would take a long time because there were no reserve stocks; it would also seriously delay the equipping of our own troops. All that could be done immediately was to meet the essential needs of the Greeks arsenal and supply the Greek forces with as much as possible of the Italian equipment and transport captured in Libya.
Pista! Jeff
battaglione Alpini sciatori Monte Cervino (Reenacted)
5th Greek Regiment
9th reggimento bersaglieri

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