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

Cablegram 514 LONDON, 4 July 1940, 9.57 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET PERSONAL FOR HIMSELF

Appreciation of Middle East in Z.168 [1] in my view is mere

statement of obvious facts within the knowledge of any reasonably

competent person. It stresses the importance of our position in

the Middle East and in paragraph 8 shows what that position hinges

on. In subsequent paragraphs it indicates the possibility of our

not being able to maintain our position in various vital areas

referred to in paragraph 2 and in paragraph 9 it states the

necessity of strengthening our forces in the Middle East but

indicates little prospect of its being possible to do this for a

considerable time. It, however, gives no indication of what the

plan would be in the event of our having to retire from any of the

vital points mentioned. For example, paragraph 4 shows that we

have forces in Egypt sufficient only to cope with Italy so long as

we retain a fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean. That Alexandria

might be rendered untenable as fleet base if Italy reinforced in

the air by Germany. In the event of these reinforcements being

provided Alexandria becoming untenable and Egypt having to be

evacuated no indication is given as to where it is contemplated

that forces now in Egypt would be withdrawn.

This is only one example but there are many others that will occur

to you.

The present arrangement is that I am to discuss this appreciation

as well as the Far Eastern questions raised in Dominions Office

telegram No. 228 [2] with Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Please send me any specific points you would desire me to raise in

this discussion.

BRUCE

1 Document:8.

2 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. III,

Document 459.

[AA: A981, WAR 57, i]