398 Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr R.G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development (in London)

Cablegram unnumbered 1 December 1939,

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Cabinet has considered your proposal that we should send First Brigade Group on January 2nd now amended to January 9th. [1]

Having regard to the importance of co-ordination with New Zealand and to the points you make about the value of releasing British troops from Middle East [2] we are prepared to agree.

Am bound to tell you however that we do so under protest as we feel that in this matter we have been in effect forced into a course of action which we would not otherwise have adopted. For example, we resent being told that shipping is already on its way for the purpose of collecting our troops on January 2nd when we are not consulted before the departure of the vessels.

It is the general feeling of Cabinet that there has been in this matter a quite perceptible disposition to treat Australia as a Colony and to make insufficient allowance for the fact that it is for the Government of Australia to determine whether and when Australian Forces shall go out of Australia.

As to Artillery, the Cabinet is of opinion that, having regard to our stocks of field guns and howitzers not capable of replacement, none of them can be sent out of Australia.

MENZIES

1 War Cabinet Minute 86, 30 November 1939 (see AA: A2673, vol. 1).

2 See Document 395.

[AA: A1608, B45/2/1]