134 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 500 24 September 1940,

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Repeated to the Prime Minister of New Zealand [1], No. 16.

With further reference to your cablegram No. 346 [2], His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia has considered your conclusion that after balancing the risks between the Middle East and the Far East, the needs of the situation would be best met if the 7th Australian Division were sent direct to the Middle East to complete its training, and agrees with your proposal.

The Commonwealth Government assumes that as this Division will be equipped on a modified scale, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is fully satisfied as to the military situation in the region in which this force will be located and that there is no reasonable risk of the Division being called upon to fight until it has completed its training and received its full equipment.

The Commonwealth Government would stress its previous representations regarding the importance which it attaches to the early equipping of its forces overseas with modern equipment. In this connection it will be recalled that the High Commissioner [3] was instructed to make representations in accordance with cabled directions of 26th January [4], and it is also desired to invite attention to paragraph B of cablegram 208 of 8th May. [5] It has been noted from Circular cablegram Z.229 of 1st September [6] that the United Kingdom Government has decided to allocate a considerably larger proportion of equipment produced-in the United Kingdom for the use of forces in overseas theatres. [7]

MENZIES

1 Peter Fraser.

2 Document 123.

3 S. M. Bruce.

4 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. III, Document 31.

5 ibid., Document 215.

6 On file AA:A1608, A41/1/1, xiii.

7 Bruce was advised of the dispatch of this cablegram. See cablegram 330 of 24 September on file AA:A1608, A41/1/1, xiii.

[AA:A3196, 1940, 0.6966]