110 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 83 LONDON, 21 March 1940, 5 a.m.

MOST SECRET AND PERSONAL FOLLOWING FOR THE PRIME MINISTER

In September last, as part of the Air plan for the reinforcement of Singapore, two medium bomber squadrons were sent from India to Singapore.

Since then the situation has changed materially in that the risk of war with Japan has considerably receded while that of war with Russia has increased, with resulting implications on the situation in India and the Middle East.

We propose therefore to arrange in the course of the next few days to recall the two Blenheim squadrons from Singapore to India where they would be more suitably placed either to reinforce Iraq or Egypt or to act as a counter to Russian air action against Northern India. They could, of course, if the situation at Singapore suddenly deteriorated, rapidly be sent back there if the balance of risk so required.

We do not wish to give the impression that there can be a general relaxation of our precautionary methods in the Far East. The withdrawal of these squadrons throws an additional responsibility on the remainder of the garrison at Singapore and a communication is about to be addressed to the Governor of the Straits Settlements [1] urging him to take such methods as may be practicable, without thereby causing dislocation of vital tin and rubber industries, to extend the training of volunteer units. It is hoped by this means that it may be possible to correct any false impression which would otherwise be caused by the movement of these squadrons. We feel that you would wish to have this advance information in view of your special interest in the defences of Singapore. [2]

1 Sir Shenton Thomas.

2 This cablegram was also addressed to the New Zealand Govt as no.

79.

[FA: A3195, 1.1896]