190 Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 129 LONDON, 30 April 1940, 7.18 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

The question of the safety of your convoys was already under consideration before receipt of your Most Secret telegram of 30th April, 189, Commonwealth of Australia, No. 139 New Zealand. [1]

Unless the situation improves, the Admiralty consider that it would be undesirable to pass the convoys U.S.2 and U.S.3 through the Red Sea.

The alternative of the troops proceeding by the overland route to Egypt via Basrah is considered impracticable by the War Office for climatic and administrative reasons.

Moreover, if the war with Italy were to break out subsequent to the arrival of the contingents in Egypt, there might be considerable difficulty in equipping them, as necessary material has to come from United Kingdom resources.

In the circumstances it has been necessary to consider the advisability of diversion of both convoys.

Owing to fact that better training facilities exist in the United Kingdom than in other possible destinations, and that equipment must be supplied from this country, it is suggested that the best course would be that these contingents should be diverted to the United Kingdom. It would of course give us incomparable pleasure to welcome the Australian and New Zealand troops here.

The Admiralty are confident that adequate safety can be afforded for the convoys moving by the Cape of Good Hope route to the United Kingdom.

We should be grateful if we could be informed as soon as possible whether this would be agreeable to the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments.

In that event, unless the situation shows marked improvement, we shall order the convoy U.S.2 to be diverted before it enters the Gulf of Aden.

As regards the convoy U.S.3, we hope that arrangements for embarkation as previously contemplated will be completed. If diversion proves necessary, convoy U.S.3 would be diverted on the same date as U.S.2. [2]

1 Document 188.

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

122.

[AA: A1608, A41/1/1, ix]