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

393 — General Headquarters, Middle East, to the War Office

page 290

General Headquarters, Middle East, to the War Office

c. 2 May 1941

Repeated to Creforce.

It is agreed that information points to an early attack on Crete by simultaneous airborne and seaborne expeditions. We must however bear in mind the possibility that this is a cover for a plan to attack Cyprus, Syria, and Iraq. The latter possibility is suggested by latest developments in Iraq. Your estimated scale of air attack is considered excessive. Your figures regarding bombers appear to be based upon establishments of aircraft in the Balkans, Sicily, and Libya. Our estimate based on operational aircraft likely to be available in the Balkans is as follows: 150 single-engined fighters, 40 twin-engined fighters. We think that the bulk of the air force taking part would be based in Greece. Our information points to insufficient seagoing shipping being left in the Aegean for a large-scale seaborne operation, but if Turkey allows passage through the Dardanelles shipping and lighters should be available from Roumania.