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

Cablegram 949 2 November 1940,


The reply which I have received to a cable despatched to the G.0.C., A.I.F. in the Middle East [1], asking whether he was satisfied with the degree to which the Sixth Division was equipped, their standard of training and general preparedness, is considered by the Government to be of such importance that it is transmitted to you in full. The advices of the United Kingdom Government from time to time of the measures being taken to strengthen the equipment of the Forces in the Middle East have been noted, but you should exercise continuous pressure on the United Kingdom authorities to ensure that the A.I.F. is fully equipped as early as possible:

G.O.C.'s message-

(begins) MOST SECRET. Your C.22/10. For Prime Minister from General Blamey. Part I.

I am not satisfied that the Force has been satisfactorily and fully equipped. In common with most British units in the Middle East there are considerable deficiencies yet to be made good.

Sixth Australian Division is at present being concentrated in the Amariya area immediately west of Alexandria, where it is continuing its training and completing equipment. In the event of a serious enemy advance eastward it will have the role of protection of lines of communication from Maaton Bagush to Amariya. For this role I am satisfied that the portion of the Division allotted be provided [sic] adequately trained and satisfactorily equipped.

Part II. I am continually urging on G.H.Q., Middle East, the need for completion of the A.I.F. in war equipment, but the plain fact is that supplies from England are not arriving as rapidly as is desired, although considerable stocks are now coming in. The Commander in Chief [2] is faced with a most difficult situation should he be compelled to accept battle before all his units are fully equipped. He cannot avoid battle since the enemy for the time being have the initiative. Under the circumstances bound to agree to the participation of Australian troops in a defensive role seeing that they are generally better equipped than the remainder of the British Forces available. There is no probability of them being employed in offensive operations at present. I am of opinion that there is no reason to anticipate a serious Italian offensive against Egypt in immediate future. The Commander in Chief has no misgivings as to the adequacy of his forces to deal with any further advance should it be made.

(G.O.C.'s message ends).

1 Lt Gen Sir Thomas Blamey. The cablegram, which was dispatched on 22 October, is that referred to by Blamey below as 'Your C.22/10'.

See file AA:A2671, 186/1940, Supplement 3.

2 General Sir Archibald Wavell.

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