By Nicholas Tamkin (auth.)
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Additional resources for Britain, Turkey and the Soviet Union, 1940–45: Strategy, Diplomacy and Intelligence in the Eastern Mediterranean
As we have seen, the economic and ﬁnancial preconditions for Turkish belligerency had not been met. Writing from Ankara, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen nonetheless remained remarkably impervious to the logic of the Turkish position, given the appalling state of the Allied war effort at that moment. He insisted that the Turks ‘had allowed themselves to be bluffed’ by rumours of a Soviet attack if Turkey fought on the Allied side. ’1 Soviet claims against Turkey Although Soviet–Turkish relations had deteriorated since the Nazi– Soviet pact, the British embassy in Ankara was not yet convinced that hostility was axiomatic.
An important requirement will be to complete such preparations in Turkey as will give mobility to our forces and enable us to switch them from Egypt and Greece as the need arises . . 49 The Turkish oligarchy may have appreciated the position, but they would not join the war on the promise of ‘bright prospects ahead,’ or of limited British forces which might be transferred to Greece or Egypt. ’50 British policy failed to reconcile the evidence indicating that Yugoslavia could not be relied upon to stand ﬁrm, and that the Turks had no conﬁdence in Belgrade.
27 As we shall see in the ﬁnal chapter of this book, the FO initially failed to take Soviet ambitions in the Caucasus seriously when they were revived in 1945. Like Cripps in Moscow, Hugessen in Ankara was not privy to intercepted SIGINT, possibly contributing to his more optimistic reading of Soviet–Turkish relations. Not all of the evidence from decrypts pointed in one direction, however. 28 Even without access to decrypts, Hugessen and Cripps recognised that agreement on the Straits was unlikely.