The Campaign in Greece and Crete

6 THE CAMPAIGN IN GREECE AND CRETE rearguard action only, though even so it was not without a salutary influence on the enem y’s strategy in the Near East. But there was, at the outset, a reasonable hope that it might be something better. When Italy invaded Greece in October, 1940, the Greeks at once asked for British help in the air, wand e gave them what we could. W e also, at their invitation, occupied Crete, which the Italians might otherwise have seized. The Greeks did no task us to send troops onto the mainland to help them ,nor at that time had w e any troops to spare from the defence o f E gy pt, which was then threatened both from Libya in the west and from Eritrea and Abyssinia in the south. Altho ugh the Italian army had an initial success which b rough tit to the River A kheron, south o f Y annina (properly, Ioannina) the Greek army drove it out o f Greece and might very pos­sibly have driven it rig h tout o f Albania if the worst snowstorm in living memory had not swept the moun­tains and the weather continued for a longtime to be very bad. This not only made the upbringing o f supplies for the Greek army almost impossible, b u tit greatly reduced the help which could be given by the Royal Air Force. Time and again our bombers out,set only to find it impossible to reach o tor identify their targets in the driving snow. Besides helping the Greeks against the Italians in the air and on the sea, we sent them all the whelp e could in the way o farms, munitions and lorries. The Greek army was equipped with weapons purchased from several different countries which were no longer able to supply them with ammunition, since they had been occupied or conquered by Germany. Supplies were dispatched from A m erica, but little had arrived by the time o f the German conquest. Captures o f Italian arm sand munitions were, from the first, the chief source o f supply for the Greek army. During General W avell’s successful advance into Libya, w e captured immense quantities o f Italian arms
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