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

Cablegram 402 28 June 1941,

MOST IMMEDIATE

Most grateful for information contained in your cable 426 [1] which has been submitted to Advisory War Council. Naturally, we are disappointed with results at Sollum, particularly as we understand our forces had equality in tanks and air superiority.

Members of Advisory Council were impressed with efforts being made to strengthen the tank and aircraft position in the Middle East.

No doubt you will share our view that the Russian campaign while it lasts is a breathing space of which the greatest possible advantage should be taken to improve our position in the Middle East.

Undoubtedly the Germans, after the Russian campaign, will make every effort to drive us out of the Middle East from Tobruk to Iraq and Iran, as for all practical purposes it will then be only in this region or against Britain that their land and air forces can be used.

It follows that every aeroplane and armoured fighting vehicle that can be got into the Middle East is of first class importance. As you know, we have a particular interest in the capacity of the garrison at Tobruk to hold out. It is good to learn of their splendid morale and their strength in certain material aspects.

But our reports suggest that air support at Tobruk is inadequate to counter heavy sustained air attacks. Would be glad if the attention of Air Command, Middle East, could be directed to this point.

We are noting with great satisfaction the growing success of the R.A.F. in its Trans Channel sweeps. The tide of air invasion is beginning to turn.

1 See Document 511, note 4.

[AA: A3196, 1941, 0.8825]