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

Cablegram 738 21 October 1940,


The sustained air attacks on London, the main industrial centres, and the south-eastern counties generally, are creating some anxiety as to the effects that are being achieved by the enemy. At this distance from the scene of operations and source of information our concern may be attributed to the fact that the D.W. advices [1] can only give a day to day description, and the weekly summaries a close-up impression of current events. While fully realizing the heavy burden the Service staffs are bearing, we lack a periodical appreciation which sums up the trend of operations and endeavours to strike a balance as to their results.

2. The reasons which preclude more specific details in the daily and weekly advices are of course fully understood, but it would be extremely helpful for me to receive an appreciation of the military position in the United Kingdom, including observations on the undermentioned aspects. The report would be for my personal information and for communication of my impressions verbally to colleagues in the War Cabinet- (1) The war at sea (i) The reasons for recent heavier sinkings, including ships in convoy, comparisons of trend in enemy and British strengths and offensive and defensive tactics of both sides.

(2) The war in the air (i) A review of the damage due to enemy bombing in respect of- (a) military objectives; (b) civil objectives.

(ii) The results of (i) (a) on- (A) Air Strength; (B) Military production.

(iii) The results of (i) (b) on- (A) Commercial production.

(iv) The results of (i) (a) and (b) on- (A) the morale of the people and their social life generally;

(B) the degree of interruption to the commercial life of the community.

(v) Reference to some quantitative index to show the results being achieved by the aircraft industry in the United Kingdom and U. S.

A. and comparative trends of British and German strengths.

(vi) Reduction of enemy losses in daylight raids due to reduction in bombers and increase in fighters is noted.

(vii) (a) What improvements is it possible to state are being effected in defence against night bombing? (b) Is night bombing being carried out largely at random? (c) What changes are being made by the enemy in his methods and munitions? (d) Are the weight of the attacks and their effects causing any perturbation from the military and/or the civil aspects? (viii) (a) With the advent of winter, what is the probable trend of the position in respect of daylight and night attacks and defence against same? (b) Are the considerations in (a) equally applicable to the R.A.F.

offensive on Germany? (c) Where does the balance of advantage he between (a) and (b)? (ix) Some comparative observations on the strategy, tactics, morale and equipment of Royal Air Force and the German Air Force.

3. The advices regarding the strengthening of the British Forces in the Middle East by naval, military and air forces and acceleration of delivery of equipment have been noted with interest. In view of these steps and recent events in the international political sphere I would be grateful if the appreciation furnished in Dominions Office Z. 168 of 3rd July [2] and Z. 183 of 13th July [3] could be reviewed and a further report furnished by United Kingdom Government for our information.

4. In the latter connection please see Dominions Office cablegram No. 382 of 4th October [4] regarding despatch of 7th Division to Middle East and our reply No. 500 of 24th September. [5] Should be glad if you would discuss with United Kingdom authorities and ascertain significance of distinction between 'no reasonable risk' referred to in our cablegram and 'no great risk' referred to in Dominions Office reply.


1 The DW cablegrams reported in detail the general progress of the war. Those relevant to this volume are on files AA:A1608, G41/1/1, iii-viii.

2 Document 8.

3 On file AA:A1608, A41/1/1, xi.

4 On file AA:A816, 31/301/481.

5 Document 134.

[AA:A3196, 1940, 0.7899]