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

348 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

7 March 1941

The following is the text of a telegram from Athens from the Secretary of State and the Chief of the Imperial General Staff for the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Chiefs of Staff:

Following is the translation of the agreement in French signed on 4 March between the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and General Papagos:

page 251

As a result of discussions between the Greek and British High Commands held at Athens on 2 March, 3 March, and 4 March, 1941, the following decisions were taken:


The Greek Army will leave three divisions in Macedonia to defend prepared positions on the Nestos–Rupel line.


The Greek Army will concentrate with all possible speed on the position Mount Olympus – Veria – Edessa – Kajmakcalan (Aliakmon position) the following forces:


The 12th Division from Western Thrace already moving towards the west by train;


The 20th Division from Florina;


The 19th Motorised Division from Larissa;


Seven battalions from Western Thrace, provided the Turkish Government agree to release them as requested by the Greek and British Governments.


A separate Greek commander will be appointed forthwith for these forces.


The British forces will be despatched to Piraeus and Volos as rapidly as shipping will permit.


The British forces will concentrate on the Aliakmon position on which it is intended that the Greco-British forces should be able to battle.


The command of all forces on the Aliakmon position will be entrusted to Lieutenant-General Sir H. M. Wilson under the High Command of General Papagos. The date when General Wilson assumes his command will be settled by General Papagos in consultation with him and will depend on the arrival of General Wilson's headquarters and establishment of his Company.1

NB.—As regards paragraph 6, it had already been agreed during the conversations held at the Royal Palace at Tatoi on 22 February that in the event of the General Officer Commanding British troops finding himself in disagreement with General Papagos, he would have the right to refer to the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East. In the event of being unable himself to settle the question with General Papagos, the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, would similarly have the right to refer to His Majesty's Government.

1 The wording is curious but clearly implies the date by which General Wilson's headquarters would be in full operation.