4 Churchill to Curtin
Cablegram Winch 25 LONDON, [11 July 1942] 
PERSONAL AND MOST SECRET
I am very glad that the 9th Australian Division is now in action
in the Western Desert, and I am most thankful to you for making it
available for this vital key point of the war.
2. The unforeseeable tide of disaster which drove us from Gazala
to Alamein with the loss of Tobruk and 50,000 men has now for the
time being been stemmed. General Auchinleck has received strong
reinforcements raising his army to 100,000 men with another 20,000
well forward in the Delta behind them. He is thus about double
Rommel  in men. He has a fair equality in artillery but is
still somewhat weaker in armour to the enemy. This imposes
prudence upon him for two reasons. First, a retirement is much
worse for him than for Rommel who has nothing but deserts behind
him and, secondly, far more strength is coming to General
Auchinleck than to the enemy.
3. For instance, the 8th Armoured Division with 350 Valentine
Tanks has landed and will soon be in action. About 400 tanks of
all natures, having been despatched before the battle began, will
reach General Auchinleck in July and early August as replacements.
The 44th British Infantry Divisisdon fully equipped, 15,000 strong
with 72 guns, should have arrived by the end of July and the 51st
British Infantry Division a month later.
4. It was very fortunate that four months ago I obtained from
President Roosevelt the shipping to carry an additional 40,000 men
to the East without deciding on their destination till they
rounded the Cape. Without these, the reinforcements now proved so
needful by the hazards of war could not have been at hand.
5. When in Washington, I obtained from the President 300 of the
latest and finest tanks (Shermans) in the American Army. They were
taken from the very hands of the American troops who eagerly
awaited them, and were sent by special convoy direct to Suez. With
them went one hundred 105 MM. self-propelled guns which definitely
outmatch the 88 MM., the whole being accompanied by a large number
of American key men. These should arrive early September. Apart
from the 8th Armoured Division and in addition to the two armoured
and one army tank brigades now in action forward, we have in the
Delta the personnel of four armoured brigades awaiting re-
equipment. About half these men are desert trained in tanks. We
should therefore be able to bring into action incomparably the
most powerful and best trained armoured division yet seen in the
Mid East or indeed anywhere. But I hope the issue will be decided
in our favour earlier. This is especially desirable because of
dangers that may, though I do not say they will, develop on the
Northern approaches to Egypt.
6. Scarcely less important are the air reinforcements given me by
the President on the morrow of Tobruk. As you know we have not
been hitherto able for technical as well as military reasons to
provide heavy bomber squadrons for the Mid East, though they have
often asked for them. But now the President has assigned to the
defence of Egypt the Halpro Group of 20 Liberators which was on
its way to India, after bombing Rumanian oilfields, 10 other
Liberators which had already reached India and a group of 35
Liberators from the United States. These, with our own Liberators,
make up about 85 of these heavy bombers which should all be
available this month. At the same time our two Halifax Squadrons
will come into action, making up to 117 heavy bombers in all. It
is this force I rely upon to beat up the ports of Tobruk and
Benghazi, hampering Rommel's reinforcements, besides of course
playing the part of a battle-fleet in preventing a seaborne
invasion of Egypt. We have great enterprises in preparation for
the re-victualling of Malta but as these deal with future
operations you will not, I am sure, wish me to mention details.
In addition to the above, the President sent about 70 of his
latest Kittyhawks across in the carrier 'Ranger' which should soon
be reaching West Africa.
7. Besides this, every preparation has been made to defend the
Delta should the battles in the desert go against us. Here we have
very large numbers of men all of whom have been ordered to take
part in the defence of Egypt exactly as if it were England that
was invaded. Cultivation and irrigation of the Delta make it
literally the worst ground in the world for armoured vehicles, and
armour as a factor would lose a great deal of its predominance.
All ideas of evacuation have been repressed, the intention being
to fight for every yard of ground to the end. As I have said,
however, I do not think this situation will arise.
8. We are having a great struggle to carry supplies to Russia. One
fifth of the June convoy was sunk and I fear less than one half of
the July convoy got through. The difficulties and dangers of this
route are enormous especially during the season of perpetual
daylight. This is serious as it is almost the only thing we can do
for our brilliant ally who is taking so heavy a toll of Hitler's
armies and will, I am confident, endure to the end. To show you
what a good comrade Premier Stalin is proving himself, they have
offered us three divisions of partly equipped Poles for the
Levant-Caspian Theatre and have transferred to Egypt 40 Boston
fighter bombers which were on the way to them through Basra. In
this last matter, the President was my intermediary.
9. The House of Commons has proved a rock in these difficult days,
as it did in the struggle against Napoleon, and I have also been
greatly encouraged by the goodwill of your Government and people.
I never felt more sure that complete ultimate victory will be
ours. But the struggle will be long and we must not relax for an
1 Inserted from the London copy in PRO:PREM 4/43B/2.
2 Commander-in-Chief of the German Army in North Africa.
3 Bruce commented on Winch 25 that 'more stress should be laid on
the necessity for early action and less on the growing strength of
our position in the future'. See cablegram 104A of 14 July on file
AA:M100, July 1942.