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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

8 March 1941

8 March 1941

The following is the text of three telegrams from the British Minister to Greece1 (Athens) to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Cairo):

I have just read the Prime Minister's message to you2. I need not emphasise to you the effect of our now withdrawing from the agreement actually signed between the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and the Greek Commander-in-Chief which is now in process of execution here by General Wilson himself. How can we possibly abandon the King of Greece after the assurances given him by the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff as to the reasonable chance of success? This seems to me quite unthinkable. We shall be pilloried by the Greeks and the world in general as going back on our word.

There is no question of ‘liberating the Greeks from feeling bound to reject the ultimatum’. They have decided to fight Germany alone if necessary. The question is whether we help or abandon them.

1 Sir Michael Palairet, KCMG; British Minister to Greece 1939–42; British Ambassador to Greece 1942–43 (i.e., to Greek Government in exile); Assistant Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office, 1943–45.

2 See telegram in No. 349.