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534 Mr Clement Attlee, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 482 LONDON, 27 June 1942, 9.08 p.m.


Your telegram 25th June, No. 347. [1] Following Most Secret and
Personal. From the Prime Minister [2] to the Prime Minister.


I am sorry that you have felt concern over the request made to you
in Attlee's message of 24th June. [3] I cannot see that that
proposal involves any substantial departure from what was agreed
with Evatt. [4] It was put forward after full consideration in
Cabinet as a result of the grave situation which has arisen in
Libya. Every other possible source of supply, e.g. Malta and
India, was examined but only means of obtaining required number of
tropicalized Spitfires in less than 2 months was found to be
diversion of the 42 machines en route in W.S. 20. [5]

The proposed diversion does not in any way cancel the plan for air
support which I made with Evatt and the ground equipment and
personnel of the squadrons will arrive according to timetable. The
aircraft would follow a month later. It cannot be said to be a
fortuitous circumstance that these aircraft are at sea on their
way to Australia. Had they not been assigned to Australia, more
machines would have been at sea on their way to the Middle East.

No Middle East despatches were possible during the time when
[these] [6] aircraft were arriving off production and being

Please do not think that we have forgotten or under-estimate
Australia's danger. But it cannot be denied that the losses which
the Japanese have sustained in the Midway action have had a
material effect on the naval situation in the Pacific and on the
imminence of the threat to Australia.

I must therefore ask you to accept our proposal which I regard as
vital to our common interests. Ends.

S.W.P.A. FILE NO. 2]

1 Document 530
2 Winston Churchill.

3 See Document 530, note 1.

4 Minister for External Affairs.

5 Convoy WS20 was then moving down the West African coast.

6 Corrected from Attlee's unnumbered cablegram of 29 June on file
Defence: Special Collection II, bundle 5, Strategical Policy-
S.W.P.A. File No. 2.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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