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

Cablegram 155 LONDON, 17 May 1940, 10.43 p.m.

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your telegram 228 of 16th May. [1]

The possibility of completing the training of the troops in North West India or Union of South Africa has been considered and the following is the position as seen here.

INDIA

1. Accommodation. There are not sufficient barracks suitable for white troops in any one neighbourhood to allow Australian and New Zealand troops to be concentrated. It is improbable that sufficient suitable barracks could be found even if the desirability of concentration was ignored. There are serious medical objections to white troops remaining under canvas during hot weather or the rainy season and this is the only alternative.

2. Training. During the hot weather it would be impracticable to carry out training other than individual training. The Australian and New Zealand troops have been under training for some three months at least and would require now to be carrying out more advanced training.

3. Equipment. Neither full scale nor training scale of equipment could be supplied from India and both would have to be provided from the United Kingdom. This would entail a delay of some two months even in most favourable shipping. situation. At present, the Australian and New Zealand troops are without any other equipment than rifles with some few exceptions.

4. Role in India. Acceptance of Australian and New Zealand troops in order to relieve foreign garrisons in India is not considered practicable to the Government of India for the following reasons:-

(a) These troops would have to be equipped before they could be employed in an active role.

(b) Any removal of British troops would involve their eventual replacement on departure at a later date of the Australian and New Zealand troops, since no permanent reduction of the numbers of British troops in India could be accepted.

In addition to the points enumerated above, diversion to India would in any case delay the date of readiness of the Australian and New Zealand troops for operations in the European theatres of war.

SOUTH AFRICA

It would be for His Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa to say whether suitable accommodation exists and could be made available but the situation of the equipment would be the same as for India except that it could be provided with a little less delay. In these circumstances as well as on general grounds, we greatly hope that His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia will be willing that the troops should proceed to this country. [2]

1 Document 250.

2 This cablegram was also addressed to the New Zealand and South African Govts as no. 144 and no. 18 respectively.

[ANL: MS 1538, SERIES 45, SUBSERIES 3]