263 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 162 LONDON, 22 May 1940, 9.10 p.m.

SECRET

We have recently had under consideration the question of arrangements for the equipment and employment of the Sixth Australian Division. As you are aware, it is expected that the Division would be fully trained by the end of September next and equipment up to full war scale could be provided by then. We should hope that when fully trained and equipped, it would be possible for Division to be made available for employment on active service forthwith in any theatre of war which the strategic situation at the time might require.

This, however, might involve separation of the Sixth Division from the remainder of the Australian contingent. We fully appreciate and indeed share the desire of the Commonwealth Government to secure the formation of an Australian Army Corps, but it would clearly be impracticable for the Corps to be employed as a whole in active operations until the Seventh Australian Division and Corps troops have been assembled and have reached the same stage of training as the Sixth Australian Division. On the other hand, to postpone employment of the Sixth Division until the remainder of the Corps were ready might be open to objection from the point of view of equipment supply, since it would otherwise be possible to use the equipment destined for the Sixth Australian Division to complete some other Division which by then would be trained and ready to take the field.

It is not possible at this stage to indicate where the Sixth Australian Division could most appropriately be used, but in the meantime we should be glad of the general views of the Commonwealth Government on the issue raised. If the Commonwealth Government decide that the Sixth Australian Division when fully trained and equipped may be used forthwith on active service, the question of where the base and reinforcements should be located would also arise. [1]

1 There is no record of an immediate Australian reply to this cablegram, but see Document 284.

[FA: A3195, 1.3497A]