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Columnists

Hail, Lloyd George

September 7, 2019
Stavros T. Stavridis

This photo was published in two U.S. newspapers: The Albuquerque Morning Journal and The New York Times on October 9 and 10, 1922, respectively.

Here are some observations regarding this photo. There is a large banner showing HURRAH FOR LLOYD GEORGE, the British Prime Minister who was known for his philhellene proclivity and also was a good friend of Greek Premier, Eleftherios Venizelos.

In the caption, it states that Lloyd George made a speech which was supportive of the Greek interests in Asia Minor. He delivered this speech to the House of Commons on August 4, 1922 which was well received in Athens and the Greeks in Smyrna. However, the Kemalists and the Sultan’s government in Constantinople found it detestable.

In late July 1922, the Greeks threatened to occupy Constantinople as a means of ending the conflict in Asia Minor and also forcing the Kemalists to come to the bargaining table. However, the British responded that any Greek action would result in the Royal Navy shelling Piraeus. The Greeks backed down when they could have easily marched into Constantinople. Sir Horace Rumbold, the British High Commissioner in Constantinople, considered the Greek action as “50% serious, 50% bluff.”

The situation became more complicated when Smyrna declared its autonomy under the suzerainty of the Sultan. The Asia Minor defence league was responsible for this action since the Greek government was seeking a way to withdraw its troops from Asia Minor. In both cases, the Kemalists ignored the autonomy of Smyrna and the Greek occupation of Constantinople as they laid down their own plans to drive the Greek army out of Asia Minor.

The photo is unsourced and undated. I think this photo would have been taken a couple of days after the British Prime Minister’s address to the Commons. It would be interesting to ascertain the origins of the photo and how the newspapers came into possession of it. However, one can see the elation of the Smyrniotes receiving support from Lloyd George.

Within a few weeks, the Kemalists entered Smyrna on September 9 and what followed will be the subject of another article.

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