184 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 284 LONDON, 28 April 1940, 6.20 p.m.

FOR PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY

Norway-Supreme War Council has decided owing to inadequacy of bases for supplying forces and German air superiority which can not be overcome owing to lack of aerodromes troops North and South of Trondheim to be withdrawn and attempt recapture Trondheim abandoned.

In discussion conclusion apparently arrived at that even if Trondheim could be captured holding it would impose too great strain on Allies. This conclusion might well be challenged in view of repercussions that will flow from Allied abandonment of Norway save Narvik area and suggests the question why were the operations for its recapture ever undertaken.

Notwithstanding the view which has now been accepted by the Supreme War Council my own opinion remains unchanged that if immediately on German seizure Allies had concurrently attacked by sea (although admittedly this operation would have involved risks and possible losses which in my view would have been well worth while) and by landings North and South we could have recaptured Trondheim and could have held it without undue strain in fact with less strain than we will now be subjected to as I believe such a success would have steadied position in Mediterranean and S.E.

Europe where I fear Allies reverse in having to abandon Southern Norway will lead to immediate developments.

Supreme War Council consider capture of Narvik which being concentrated on and which proposed hold in strength including large air force will off-set damage to Allies prestige resulting from withdrawal in Southern Norway. This I do not agree with and I have grave doubts how far position can be maintained with rest of Norway in German hands.

Also am not clear as to usefulness of such force vis-a-vis Gallivare iron ore fields so long as Germany does not attack Sweden or whether it could do anything effective if Germany attacked and overran Sweden as she presumably could do rapidly, her forces in Norway enabling her to turn Swedish main defensive line of the Lakes.

With regard to Italy latest advice indicates decision postponed for moment but I still feel Mussolini only waiting on developments in Norway. Record of Supreme War Council which Dominions Office cabling you [1] in my view does not give a clear picture as to Allies attitude and action in event of Italy entering war or taking independent action e.g. attack on Dalmatian Coast. I have tried to get definite information but without success. Also cannot ascertain what plans are envisaged for countering any of the possible moves by Germany with or without Russian co-operation in South East Europe.

I am sending the above for your personal information to show you the thoughts which are in my mind. I realise they may not be well based.

Do you think it would be useful if you cabled me the points you would desire information on so that I could either follow them up myself or suggest to you to cable them direct to United Kingdom Government.

BRUCE

1 See cablegram Z62 of 28 April 1940 on file AA: A1608, C41/1/1.

[AA: M100, APRIL 1940]