10 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
Cablegram 456  CANBERRA, 20 July 194I
PERSONAL MOST SECRET & URGENT
For your Prime Minister  from Prime Minister.
We regard it as of first class importance that, now that the
Syrian Campaign has concluded, Australian Troops in the Middle
East should be aggregated into one force. This would not only give
an opportunity for refreshment, restoration of discipline and re-
equipment after strenuous campaigns but would also give immense
satisfaction to Australian people for whom there is great national
value and significance in knowing that all Australian soldiers in
any zone form one Australian unit. This principle was fully
accepted by both United Kingdom Government and ours when troops
first despatched to Middle East.
Problem has a particular bearing upon the garrison at Tobruk which
has been engaged in continuous operations since March and is
therefore in the position of a force with continuous front line
service over a period of months, a state of affairs which must
result in some decline of fighting value. If they could be
relieved by fresh troops, movement of personnel only being
involved, re-aggregation and equipment of A.I.F. in Palestine
would then present no major difficulty.
I would be glad if you could direct British High Command in Middle
East along these lines. The comparative lull now obtaining in
Libya seems to make this an ideal time for making the above move,
to which we attach real and indeed urgent importance.