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Editorial – Great Help From Little Greece

30 November 1940

Mexborough and Swinton Times November 30, 1940

Great Help From Little Greece

We have been so chastened by experience and habituated to misfortune that we have some little difficulty in recognising victory when we see it, but there can be no doubt of the great psychological and strategical value of the Greek successes, and we salute this gallant little Ally which has matched our spirit and helped to destroy the enemy’s legend of invincibility.

Though we belittle the military morale and prowess of Italy, we have taken the threat to Egypt and the Sudan seriously, and Graziani has, by his mere presence, been able to immobilise a great British force, whose communications and supplies are a severe strain upon the Royal Navy. We have not yet succeeded in bringing the Italian Fleet to battle—we nearly did so this, week—and though the glorious,’ action of the Fleet Air Arm at Taranto made some inroad upon that task, the main Fleet remains as a threat and contains forces which we would gladly use elsewhere.

The Greeks have met and overthrown the Italians in the field, taking the short way to victory. They have received important aid from the Royal Air Force, but they have shown valour and intelligence of the highest order, their forces’ have been brilliantly handled and they have not only turned back an invasion, but have inflicted on the Italians a minor Caporetto, with important political consequences in Italy, the Balkans and elsewhere.

The weakness of the Axis has been exposed at a moment when it was vital to Hitler that the legend of Axis invincibility should impress itself in every part of the world.

The astonishing Greek victory has electrified the world and the people that sit in darkness have seen a great light.  If the Italians could now be brought to battle everywhere they could be flogged out of the war quickly, or at least disabled, and our own strategical position immensely improved.

It would be easy to overestimate the significance of the Greek successes. The Greeks are not likely to do so; their communiques are as modest as our own are laconic. They are under no illusions as to the sternness and difficulty of their task, or as to the advantage of terrain which they have hitherto enjoyed and skilfully used. They realise that the Italians have been unable as yet to use superior weight in blitzkrieg concentration. They have not yet had to face panzers and, dive-bombers or brutalised and fanatical German robots; that is still a possibility and though they will not have to face such an ordeal alone, it will test their courage and discipline to a far greater extent than the Italians have been able to do.

So far, Hitler has held aloof from this adventure of Mussolini; it was either no part of his plan or the plan has been grossly bungled by his in competent ally. Hitler is doubtless human enough to enjoy his confederate’s discomfiture, though he cannot be indifferent to its serious and growing effect on Axis prestige at a critical time and point.

It may be that Mussolini, who is said to have purged his Albanian command, will make desperate efforts to retrieve the position without humiliating recourse to Hun aid, but defeated and demoralised Italian soldiery are not easily rallied, and Hitler may have to fly troops over, as well as bombing reinforcements, or alternatively take the risk of invading Yugoslavia. German help in some form may be expected soon: meanwhile damage has been done to the prestige and morale of Italy. and advantages have accrued to the Allied cause.

On the swiftness and resolution with which we are able to use those advantages may depend the total overthrow of Hitler’s schemes in this field and our chance of turning the tide within months instead of years. The gallant and successful, resistance of the Greeks—shaming as it does the degeneracy of Vichiated France —may prove to be the turning point of the war.