276 Mr W. L. Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister, to Mr W. S. Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister

Repeated to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered OTTAWA, [to Canberra] 24 May 1940, 10.49 p.m.

Received 25 May 1940


I have received Mr. Menzies' telegram [1] and share his appreciation of the gravity of the situation and emphasis he has placed on the importance of immediate supplies of aircraft which could only be sought in any large numbers in United States. I was about to reply when I received your telegram of to-day. [2] I entirely concur in your views as to the situation in Washington.

Public opinion in the United States has been profoundly changed in the past few weeks and latest events will undoubtedly result in further modifications. The action of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate this week in rejecting by a vote of twelve to one a proposal to make Army planes available to the Allies indicates, however, the difficulties in translating this opinion into congressional action. Any change of policy in the United States will have to result from the conviction that a change is necessary in their own interest. I feel strongly that at the present moment any public appeal by outside Governments would arrest rather than assist the formation of public and congressional opinion favourable to action, and consider that it would be equally embarrassing if information were to reach the public as to personal appeals or discussions being made.

2. As to making known the gravity and needs of the situation particularly regarding the air, I have been for some time in direct and personal touch and am to give close and direct attention to this aspect of the situation.

3. I am repeating this telegram to Mr. Menzies, Mr. Fraser [3] and General Smuts. [4]

1 Document 261.

2 Document 271.

3 New Zealand Prime Minister.

4 South African Prime Minister.

[FA: A3195, 1.3574]