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

Cablegram 180 LONDON, n.d.


Please communicate the following message to the Prime Minister [1] for his Most Secret information.

As you will realise, the position is changing so rapidly from day to day that any appreciation prepared here is out of date almost before completed. We are endeavouring to keep you fully informed of all developments and of our reactions to them, and shall of course continue to do this. We do not feel it possible to plan for more than a short period ahead until the measure of co-operation we can expect from France and her oversea possessions can be assessed.

2. Your offer of further assistance under certain contingencies has given us the greatest possible encouragement, as in the months to come the maximum effort of the whole Empire will be required to sustain the struggle.

3. Reference sub-paragraph (a) in your telegram 290 [2] we gratefully accept the offer of one cruiser, merchant cruiser and two sloops. Admiralty are informing Australian Commonwealth Navy Board that we should like these to go to the East Indies.

4. Reference sub-paragraph (b), we suggest the enlistment, training and equipment, so far as Australia can provide it, of Seventh and Eighth Divisions should be pushed on with the utmost speed, even to the extent of drawing on Militia equipment which could be replaced later from Australian Ordnance Factories.

At the same time we should be grateful if you could consider the possibility of raising and equipping additional Divisions for overseas service in the course of the next twelve months.

5. Reference sub-paragraph (c) we should be most grateful if one extra Squadron of Hudsons and one Squadron of Wirraways could be provided, and concur in your view that these Squadrons should in that event be employed at Singapore where their presence would release R.A.F. Units most urgently required for service in the Middle East. If further Units become available they too could perform most valuable service in releasing R.A.F. Units from the Far East and India. Apart from these considerations, there is urgent need for trained personnel, flying and ground, and operational aircraft in the United Kingdom but we should not suggest that any steps possible to meet this need should be allowed to prejudice the Air Training Scheme.

1 R. G. Menzies.

2 Document 372.