271 Mr W. S. Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram M29 LONDON, 24 May 1940, 1.27 p.m.


Following from Mr. Churchill for Mr. Menzies in reply to his telegram 23rd May [1], repeated to Mr. Mackenzie King, Mr. Fraser, General Smuts. [2]


Your appreciation is concurred in and in addition we must expect early heavy attacks on these Islands. For this we are preparing;

and we hope that our naval defence will be effective against the large bodies, and that our land defence will deal with any seaborne survivors after some rough work. Evidently the final result will depend on the ability of our Air Force to make head against the superior numbers, and help to destroy airborne descents. Our Air Force will be far more effective in this country for many technical reasons which I cannot give, than operating overseas, and we believe that we are capable of limiting daylight raids on forts [sic] [3] and factories to manageable proportions on account of the number of casualties we shall inflict on the German aviation being out of all proportion to our own air losses.

Night raids will be far less dangerous to precise targets. Anyhow everyone here is resolved to fight it out.

Every form of intimate personal appeal and most cogent arguments have already been sent to Roosevelt and we have demanded all the aids you mention, except volunteer American airmen. This last could not be asked for except in a public appeal, which is of course out of the question at this moment. Roosevelt is doing his best but must carry out [sic] [4] the Congress and public opinion, still much diverted by the impending Presidential Election. If you and the other Prime Ministers feel able to follow up our appeal by a personal appeal from yourselves, this would be very welcome to us. You will understand that we have been acting in France under General Gamelin's [5] orders and conforming to French plans.

I saw Weygand [6] yesterday, who is attempting to execute important operations in entire accord with us. Weygand made an excellent impression upon us and has full control.


1 Document 261.

2 Canadian, New Zealand and South African Prime Ministers.

3 The Dominions Office copy read 'ports'. (See PRO: DO 114/113.) 4 This word did not appear in the Dominions Office copy.

5 Commander-in-Chief of the French Army until 19 May 1940.

6 Commander-in-Chief of the French Army from 19 May 1940.

[FA: A3195, 1.3546]