330 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Cablegram M1 LONDON, 4 March 1941, 8.24 p.m.

MOST SECRET AND FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION ONLY

So far the chief value of my visit has undoubtedly been its effect on the general opinion and the spirit of the people here. There has been a good response to such speeches as I have been able to make and a very real enthusiasm about what Australia is doing.

There is no doubt at present that Australia is Dominion No. 1, and this has not been our experience in the past. I have spent two week-ends with Churchill whose qualities are much greater even than we thought. His experience since becoming Prime Minister has obviously ripened his judgment and he combines in a unique way most remarkable fighting and driving qualities with an astonishing mastery of the details of both plans and equipment. One thing that disturbs me a little is that his cabinet is not disposed to entertain an independent view and there is therefore a shortage of criticism. Have not yet seen Eden [1] who is in the Middle East but in his absence I am unimpressed by the Foreign Office whose policy particularly in relation to the Far East seems to be one of drift. I am doing my best to endeavour to alter this and to get them to define a little more accurately their attitude towards the importance of such places as the Netherlands East Indies and Siam.

On Saturday night I went exhaustively through the figures of aircraft production with the Prime Minister and I am more than pleased with them. Production is regarded as being almost equal to the German total. There is a real superiority in fighters.

John Storey [2] has paid many visits to factories, is on the whole delighted with the work being done and has been preparing the ground very skilfully for a proposition which I will make at the appropriate time for the establishment of additional aircraft construction in Australia. I am quite hopeful on this side but you will, of course, appreciate that the matter will be delicate, and that at present the less said about it the better. As to the Mediterranean project, newspapers have exaggerated the willingness of Turkey. I think it quite clear that neither Turkey nor Yugo- Slavia will do anything about Greece.

In view of this [and] of the abortive attack upon Castelrizo which was I think mismanaged, and of the arrival of mechanised units at Tripoli, I have asked that the proposed action be re-examined by the (Chiefs of Staff). [3] Churchill has agreed and a quick re- examination is now in hand. I will advise you as soon as possible.

I have noted with great pleasure with what activity you have been carrying the business on in my absence. The knowledge of this has been a source of real encouragement to me at this end. Regards.

MENZIES

1 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

2 Member of the Aircraft Production Commission who travelled with Menzies as an adviser.

3 These words were annotated 'mutilated group'.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.3345]