335 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, U.K. High Commissioner in Australia

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 4 June 1940, 1.30 a.m.


My telegram No. 161 of 28th May. [1] As Prime Minister of Commonwealth [2] will be aware (see for instance my telegram to Commonwealth Government No. 172 [3]) we do not regard contingency referred to in my telegram circular Z. No. 76 [4] as more than a possibility. If it should unhappily occur and if this country were faced with invasion it would we feel be a splendid episode in the history of the Empire if Australian troops were found side by side with those of fellow members of the British Commonwealth defending the Motherland against invasion. This refers, of course, to the Australian contingent now on its way to this country and to any further forces which may be despatched here.

Generally the position as to the best use to be made of Commonwealth troops may be summarized as follows. The governing factor is the ability to equip the troops. We are faced with the problem of reconstituting a new field force. In this new field force, Commonwealth troops will be invaluable when they have been trained and can be equipped. It is impossible to say to-day when equipment will be available.

The Commonwealth can best help the Empire by continuing to train the forces with the resources at their disposal, and to putting all their energy into developing the output of their equipment.

Not until we have been able to clarify our equipment position in relation to the events in France shall we be able to give Commonwealth Government any clear idea of how soon the force they are training can be equipped for the field. But that they will be needed there can be no doubt.

Please inform Prime Minister accordingly repeating expression of our gratitude for his reference to the readiness of the Commonwealth Government to pledge all their resources to victory.

1 See Document 284, note 3.

2 R. G. Menzies.

3 Document 304.

4 Document 282.

[PRO: DO 114/113]