154 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 873 LONDON, 2 October 1940

FOR PRIME MINISTER PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY

Had long talk this afternoon with Prime Minister. [1] He is very sensitive about Dakar incident knowing I think in his heart that criticism which has been very general had justification. He was inclined to be resentful of your cable [2] and made a number of unfounded points with regard to it which I refuted.

He suggested you had said he and his Government were half hearted in their prosecution of the war and gave at length all that had been accomplished in the last four months. I told him this was absurd and that all you had referred to was the Dakar operation of which the facts spoke for themselves.

With regard to the Middle East he suggested you had asked for a guarantee and said how could anyone give it. I pointed out you had done nothing of the sort but only expressed your anxieties and hopes that importance was realised and every conceivable step being taken.

We ranged over all the points of his long cable [3] to you and at times exchanges became somewhat crisp. Any criticism or suggestion Prime Minister immediately takes as a personal attack. I urged on him that this attitude is all wrong and has things out of perspective. I stressed everyone realises amazing job he has done and is doing but to resent any view not in accord with his own is to make job harder.

The real trouble is that no one round the Prime Minister stands up to him and his judgment is not such as to obviate necessity for some check on his impulses. Conversation which started in somewhat antagonistic atmosphere ended on better note.

BRUCE

1 Winston S. Churchill. See Document 153.

2 Document 144.

3 Document 152.

[AA:M100, OCTOBER 1940]