Scobie, General Ronald, 1893-1969

In October 1941 Scobie was sent as General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6th Division (later 70th Division) which replaced the besieged Australian garrison at Tobruk. In the major winter offensive to reconquer Cyrenaica, Scobie under CUNNINGHAM’s command led the break-out from Tobruk on 21 November 1941. In 1942 Scobie became GOC at Malta which was strategically crucial because of its use as a base to attack German supply convoys to North Africa. In 1943 he was given the post of Chief of Staff, Middle East Command. Finally, in 1944 Scobie became GOC in Greece and directed the final operations leading up to the German withdrawal from Athens on 12 October. However when the British entered the capital two days later they found the Communist National Liberation Front (EAM) and its military wing (ELAS) ready to take over the government. This was a particularly sensitive issue to England and France who were at the time faced with the imminent Soviet occupation of all eastern Europe and the Balkans. Scobie was ordered by CHURCHILL to hold Greece at all costs and found himself in the middle of a civil war by December. EAM however was not receiving any external aid because they constituted a purely indigenous group and because the Soviets had promised not to interfere. They were forced to make a truce on 11 January 1945. A constitutional regime was set up and the Communists brutally repressed.

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