Sir Thomas Blamey and the Greece Campaign
Sir Thomas Blamey and the Greece Campaign
In March of 1941 Sir Thomas Blamey was sent by Field Marshall Lord Wavell to lead the Allied troops into Greece to protect it from invasion by the Germans. Blamey felt from the outset that the protection of Greece was a lost cause and that the Allies should concentrate on the defense of Crete. However, Wavell sent him and several units, which included Australians and New Zealanders, to Greece. Blamey believed that the Nazis would be upon Greece to0 quickly for the Allies to mount a successful defense. He was right and the expedition into Greece was a complete failure.

Blamey and his staff arrived in Greece in late March shortly before Hitler began attacking Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6. The blitzkrieg knocked Yugoslavia out of the war quickly leaving the New South Wales native staring directly at the Nazi forces. To make matters worse Wavell could not send all of the troops he had promised because Rommel was pushing the British forces back into Egypt. Already Blameys fears were being realized. Not only was Blamey shortchanged on ground troops his lack of air support was pitiful, his men were subjected to uncontested air bombings by the Luftwaffe.

Adding to the troubles were the terrible communications between Greece and Cairo. Often Blamey was notified of troop movement after it had already happened. Also in possibly the worst communications error of the entire Greek Campaign Blamey was not notified about the fall of Yugoslavia until two days after the fact. This combined with the never ending air raids and the destruction of transportation routes forced the Allies to reexamine the Greek Campaign. Field Marshall Wavell arrived on midnight of the 20th and made the decision to evacuate Greece. Blameys retreat had begun.

Fortunately for the men of the newly formed Anzac Corps and the other Allied Troops Blamey had foreseen this disaster and had created an exit strategy. The Allied retreat began in the middle of April and fortunately it was not a rout. However, Blamey feared that his men would be overwhelmed by April 25, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Anzac day. Blamey, a veteran of Gallipoli, would refuse to let this happen. Indeed when General Maitland Wilson, the commander of British troops in Greece, told Blamey that Wavell wished to see him in Cairo Blamey initially refused wishing to be with his men on Anzac Day. However he soon realized that it was idiocy to dispute an order from the Commander-in-Chief. Wavell wanted Blamey to leave Greece because Britains precious prestige could not afford to allow another general to fall into Nazi hands after the disastrous Western Desert retreat.

Blameys critics have focused on this supposed “flight” from Greece as a sign of his cowardice but he was obeying an order from a superior officer. This was not the only thing that Blamey came under fire for during the Greece Campaign. In Cairo Blamey needed to form a new general staff and when he suggested that his son Tom should be included, ensuring his passage to Egypt. Blameys enemies criticized him for this favoritism, citing that he rescued his own son from the gaping maw of the Nazi war machine while other mens sons were left to die. Even his friends found the decision to be suspect but let it slide as a natural instinct to protect

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Sir Thomas Blamey And Field Marshall Lord Wavell. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from