332 Mr R.G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram C7 LONDON, 6 November 1939

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Following for Squires [1] from Northcott [2]:

'General strategic situation as submitted to the conference by the Chiefs-of-Staff Outlined in official message from the Minister.

[3]

For your information following are the main features concerning the Army:-

1. Numerical superiority of Germans on the Western Front may be approximately 2 to 1 against the Allies. Imperative that maximum effort should be made by Great Britain to ensure security of this area. A defeat of France would be a disaster of the first magnitude. Critical period estimated to be next Spring.

2. Middle East and India regarded as possible danger areas if Russian aggression and propaganda develops. Essential to build up a reserve in the Middle East to meet possible contingencies.

3. In the Far East considered immediate danger to Australia and New Zealand is remote, and if Japan developed aggressive policy it seems most likely to be directed against Allied interests in China.

4. Situation demands maximum possible co-ordinative war effort from all parts of the British Empire. Military productive programme based on 50 Divisions plus 10% reserve. Dominions' Divisions will be allotted equipment as they become available overseas.

5. Moral factor of Australian troops sent overseas at earliest date considered most important; also most effective counter to enemy propaganda regarding half-hearted Dominions co-operation.

Egypt or Palestine suitable for training Sixth Division-whose arrival would enable War Office to relieve regular Divisions for France.

6. Minister agrees that our plans should be based on providing a Corps of 2 Divisions at the earliest.

7. In order to complete plans, War Office desire to know the earliest date Sixth Division could embark for Middle East, if shipping can be arranged. Owing to anticipated acute shipping position from January onwards, suggest that Headquarters land the two Brigade Groups should embark early in December, remainder beginning of January. If this is not possible, at least small portion of the Force should be sent early in December.

8. As large proportion of equipment as possible, including artillery and M.T. most desirable. New weapons, including Brens, A.T. guns and 2" mortars etc. for training will be provided on arrival in training area and full outfit completed before movement to the war theatre.

Provision of Medium Brigade or Batteries 6" Howitzers very acceptable.

Whilst essential to maintain home defence Organisation, consider we should be prepared to accept lower scale equipment for militia temporarily to provide as much as possible for the six Divisions' [sic] [4] requirements overseas.

In order to complete detailed plans, glad of early reply.

Leave for France with Minister on Thursday.'

CASEY

1 Lt Gen E.K. Squires, Chief of the General Staff.

2 Maj Gen J. Northcott, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and military adviser to Casey.

3 Document 327.

4 Sixth Division's.

[AA: CP 290/6, ITEM 35]