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

Cablegram 173 LONDON, 30 May 1940, 12.25 a.m.

MOST SECRET

Your telegram No. 208 of 8th May [1], Section (D). We are sorry that the Commonwealth Government should have been disappointed with the Chiefs of Staff review regarding Italy. Owing to suspension of the activities of the Committee of Imperial Defence since the outbreak of war, the ordinary arrangements for the preparation of C.I.D. papers have naturally ceased. It will be realized that, under war conditions, preparation of special reviews, particularly when urgently required, cannot be carried out with the same fulness and elaboration as is possible in the case of C.I.D. papers drawn up in time of peace.

It is of course our desire that the Commonwealth Government should receive the fullest information with regard to the war situation in order that they may be in a position to frame their own measures for the prosecution of the war with full knowledge of all relevant facts. There is no question of withholding such information, which it is realized that the Commonwealth Government ought to have whenever it is available. But it will be understood at a time of intensive operations such as the present, when the Chiefs of Staff, who alone can give authoritative advice, are working under continuous and heavy pressure on matters necessary for the immediate conduct of operations, there is thus very great difficulty in preparing general appreciations and it is hardly possible to do more than to supply such information as is already to hand. [2] But we shall do everything possible, having regard to the circumstances, to meet the wishes of the Commonwealth Government and the points made in your telegram will be kept fully in mind.

The request for information received through Bruce on 25th May [3], and that in your telegram Most Secret 242 [4], are being answered separately.

1 Document 215.

2 As deciphered this copy had a full stop after'. . . immediate conduct of operations'.

3 Document 273.

4 Document 294.

[FA: A3195, 1.3700]