245 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 151 LONDON, 15 May 1940, 10.20 p.m.


My telegram to Commonwealth of Australia 143, New Zealand 137 [2]:

War Cabinet have today considered the position in regard to U.S.3 and come to the conclusion that in view of the present situation in relation to Italy, it would not be advisable for the convoy to proceed towards the Middle East. Arrangements are accordingly being made for diversion towards Capetown.

As regards the ultimate destination, it is felt that for the reasons described in my telegram of 30th April, Commonwealth of Australia No. 129 [3], New Zealand 122, it would be desirable that the contingents should proceed to the United Kingdom, and it is hoped that this will be agreeable to the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments.

Intention is that the escort will be maintained at present strength as far as Capetown, except that 6-inch cruiser will have to be withdrawn on account of fuel endurance. Arrangements for onward escort are at present under consideration and full particulars as to proposals will be communicated as soon as possible together with short appreciation of the factors on which they are based.

It is understood that two vessels have Chinese crews who decline to proceed into the Atlantic. This difficulty can, however, be met by the troops at present on these ships being transferred at Capetown to other ships of the convoy in which accommodation can be provided without undue overcrowding. This would ensure that delay at Capetown would be reduced to a minimum and that the troops would be able to reach the United Kingdom in one body. [4]

1 The date of receipt has been taken from the Prime Minister's Dept inward cable register (FA: A3635).

2 Document 226.

3 Document 190.

4 This cablegram was also addressed to the New Zealand Govt as no.