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

Cablegram 346 LONDON, 18 September 1940, 3.45 a.m.

PRIORITY IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your telegram No. 457 of August 29th. [1] His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are very grateful for most helpful message, the points raised in which have been very carefully examined.

2. As regards the principal question for decision, i.e., that of the Seventh Australian Division, we have again reviewed the position in the light of the present situation in the Far East and the Middle East and in this connection have of course taken into account the views of Hs Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia as given in your telegram of September 7th, 471. [2] As is clearly recognised in that message, the major immediate threat to the Empire outside of the United Kingdom is to our position in the Middle East. After balancing the risks between the Middle East and the Far East, we now consider the needs of the situation would best be met if the Seventh Australian Division, equipped from local Australian resources of a modified scale, were sent direct to the Middle East where it could complete its training more quickly than in Malaya and where its presence would meanwhile be of abstract use for internal security purposes, and would render possible the immediate release of other troops which have already completed their training. We feel that to locate the Australian Division at a half way house, viz India, would benefit neither the Middle East nor Malaya, to which we should propose that two Indian brigades should be sent.

3. We should be very grateful for early expression of the Commonwealth Government's views on the foregoing suggestion regarding the Seventh Division.

4. The Commonwealth Government's statements as to naval and air situation in paragraphs 12-15 of your telegram have been duly noted.

5. Reply to points raised in paragraphs 16 and 17 will be sent separately.

1 Document 84.

2 Document 106.

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