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Editorial – Greek Tragedy

2 November 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 02 November 1940

Greek Tragedy

The Italian invasion of Egypt has faltered and halted, and Graziani dare not go forward until a diversion has been created in the Balkans. Italy’s criminal invasion of Greece, following an ultimatum as hasty and hollow as Ribbentrop’s infamous order to Poland, is the first move in a complicated manoeuvre to grip the Balkans firmly before delivering a stroke at the Suez Canal and Syria by way of Turkey. Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are immobilised, Rumania subjugated, and Turkey will presently stand at the crisis of its fate.

The Italian attack on Greece has so far developed nothing of the character of a Blitzkrieg such as that loosed on the Low Countries and France. That may be due in part to the nature of the Axis plan, but it is more probably the measure of Italian incompetence and timidity. The Italians must have been a good deal disconcerted by the spirited rejection of their insolent demands, followed by sturdy resistance with forces fairly numerous relative to the size of the population, though not, unfortunately, well equipped by modern standards.

The ancient Greek passion for liberty appears to have been aroused, and in spite of superior armament it is by no means certain that Italians would be a match for Hellenes in a closed ring. The Germans are not far away or the Italians would not have ventured this stroke but, fortunately, powerful British aid is near. For the moment we may leave the Turks out of the reckoning. Their treaty with Greece binds them to come in if Greece is attacked by Bulgaria, and we expect they will honour their pledge whether the threat comes from or through Bulgaria. Britain, guaranteed aid against attacks, from all quarters and is promptly fulfilling its pledge. Happily Great Britain is in an excellent position this time to give prompt and effective assistance.

.The entry of Greece into the war is of great importance strategically and may repair some of the mischief wrought by the defection of French forces in Africa. It gives Britain naval and air bases in the Aegean Sea—bases for the’sake of which Italy has further dishonoured herself by undeclared and unprovoked war.

The new situation must have its effect also on the naval dispositions of Great Britain and Italy and may hurry on decisive action which would have a profound effect on the entire campaign in the Mediterranean.

The extension of the wall to the Balkan are so many disadvantages, and this time, to the Axis cause, that it must be assumed either that the egoism of Mussolini has got out of hand – Germany has not yet associated itself with the attack on Greece – or else Hitler’s plans are being so deranged by the failure of the blitzkrieg on Britain, and by the effect of the British blockade and British bombing, that he is obliged to carry on the Battle of the Mediterranean and to give the encouragement and reinforcement needed to get action from Graziani.

It was war plans are no longer working smoothly; his air power has been splintered and its prestige ruined by the failure to reduce London or to protect the name. The world is at last realising that the British Empire is capable of winning this war, and as the Axis powers have no moral asset beyond the terror they are able to inspire, this growing confidence in the might of Britain menaces that all political scheme.

Greece has made a gesture and given a single note not only to the small nations now occupied or overshadowed by the Terror, but the more powerful Soviet and Turkish forces. Prudence and chivalry should have combined to bring Turkey instantly to the side of Greece, if only to stamp out the new conflagration before it can threaten the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. Turkey policies very good condition by that of Russia, whose passivity in the Balkans may indicate fear of complicity, or both. Russia stands in awe of Germany’s military might, but as tremendous nuisance value and it is at least likely that the annexation of Bessarabia represents a share of an agreed partition of Romania. Following a bath

It is hardly credible, however that Russia will carry cowardly or cynical complaisance to the point of permitting Germany to see the Dardanelles. That would be for Russia and Turkey a catastrophe of the first magnitude, and in the lines they could easily prevent it.

No doubt it’s all Stalin the game to keep everybody getting that even Turkey, and only may have desperately to rely – but it is a dangerous game in which he may be overreached, outmatched and out sped by so accomplished a double-crosser as Hitler.