59 Mr A. W. Fadden, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 584 CANBERRA, 5 September 1941

MOST SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

Following for the Prime Minister. [1]

I desire to invite your attention to my predecessor's cablegram No. 456 of 20th July [2] regarding the re-concentration of the Australian Imperial Force as a single force in one Corps and the relief of the 9th Division at Tobruk.

2. As intimated in cablegram No. 513 of 7th August [3], War Cabinet is pressing for effect to be given to these requests.

3. Your agreement with the principle of concentration was expressed in cablegram No. 556 of 9th August [4] and the Commander-in-Chief [5] had undertaken to see to this immediately on his return.

4. It is understood one infantry brigade and unnecessary base troops have been relieved and that intention was to move remainder during September when nights are longer. The G.O.C., A.I.F. [6], is however unable to give me assurances as to when these moves are to be completed. On the contrary he has submitted a proposal made to him that 9th Australian Divisional Artillery should relieve British artillery, together with statement which throws some doubt on possibility of the general relief of the garrison.

5. In view of decline in health resistance of troops and availability of fresher troops as mentioned in cablegram No. 513, I must reiterate request of my predecessor that directions be issued by you to Commander-in-Chief to give effect to our desires.

Parliament is meeting at the middle of the month and it is my desire to make a statement when withdrawal has been completed that re-concentration has been carried out. This is a vital national question here and should any catastrophe occur to Tobruk garrison through further decline and inability to withstand, a determined attack there would be grave repercussions.

6. I am confident of your fullest and immediate support in view of the assurances given in the first paragraph of your cablegram No.

607. [7]

FADDEN

1 Winston Churchill.

2 See R. G. Menzies's cablegram published as Document 10.

3 See Document 37, note 1.

4 Document 37.

5 General Sir Claude Auchinleck.

6 Lt Gen Sir Thomas Blamey.

7 Document 53.

[AA:A1608, E45/2/1, v]