247 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 331 LONDON, 16 May 1940, 8.48 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

[On 14 May 1940 the Netherlands Government fled to the United Kingdom and that evening the Dutch Commander-in-Chief ordered his troops to cease military resistance. On the same day German forces invaded France, crossing the River Meuse and breaking through French lines north of Sedan.)

German penetration beyond Dinant is by armoured division only, i.e. some 150 tanks, and has no weight of troops behind it. Cannot be understood here why the French not immediately counter- attacking from North and South as penetration only regarded as raid. Prime Minister [1], accompanied by Dill [2], has gone to France to clear the position up as retirement by the French, owing to exposure of right flank, would necessitate retirement of British who are holding the Germans and at some points have driven them back.

Air raid by 93 bombers against objectives in the Ruhr and the Rhine last night carried out with great success, only three machines failing to return, one of which known to have landed in France. Retaliatory raids to be anticipated immediately.

ITALY

No change notwithstanding strong message which understood Roosevelt sent to Mussolini. [3] Anticipated zero hour 20th May or 21st May.

Present War Cabinet showing more initiative and vision than predecessors in preparing to meet situation when it arises.

BRUCE

1 Winston S. Churchill.

2 Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

3 At midnight on 14 May 1940 President Roosevelt sent a message to Mussolini which referred to reports that Italy might be contemplating an early entry into the war and appealed to Mussolini to 'refrain from any threat of attack'. See Foreign Relations of the United States, 1940, vol. II (Washington, 1957), pp. 704-5.

[FA: A3195, 1.3299]