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

Cablegram 409 LONDON, 11 June 1941


It is not possible to hold Cyprus without having control of the Syrian airfields. We therefore thought it better to try to gain these, when we should be in a position to support Cyprus more effectively. In the meanwhile there is one Australian Divisional Mechanized Cavalry Regiment and one British Battalion with local troops and six Hurricanes. They are a deterrent on anything but a fairly substantial hostile scale of attack. If the enemy comes in force before we have got hold of Syria, the 1500 men in Cyprus will have to take to the mountains, which are rugged and high, and there maintain a guerilla as long as possible. If we cannot get control of Syria or the Germans defeat the guerilla in the mountains, we shall probably get a good many away. Chiefs of Staff do not think this is an unfair task to set troops. There are many worse in war. No other course is open except immediate evacuation, inviting unopposed landing. I am anxious to help you in your difficulties, and, if you wish it, I will see that Australian troops are withdrawn from Cyprus with or without relief

[PRO: DO 35/1009, ii]