Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I
367 — General Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to the Chief of the General Staff (Wellington)
General Wavell, Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to the Chief of the General Staff (Wellington)
For your personal information, the following is the general situation in the Middle East:
By air and land, and as far as possible by sea, the enemy is undoubtedly going to make a supreme effort against our whole position in the Eastern Mediterranean in the next few months.
The Greek resistance is on the point of collapse. I am flying to Athens tomorrow and the Greek Government will probably urge the earliest re-embarkation of our troops. We know that the full weight of the German air forces will be directed against us in order to prevent our embarkation and cause us losses in ships and men. At present we are withdrawing to the Thermopylae line, which is to be held by us until we can embark. No recent news has arrived of the progress being made. Representatives of the three services in Athens are planning the re-embarkation.
The situation in Cyrenaica at present is stabilised at Tobruk and in the Sollum-Bardia area, but further German reinforcements, especially of tanks, are expected in the forward area. The garrison of Tobruk, our forward troops near Sollum, and the Air Force have all been harrying the enemy with good success, but a disturbing factor is our shortage of armoured troops compared with those of the enemy.
The internal situation in Egypt may be a serious factor in the situation, and morale is not likely to stand much strain.