387 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister (in London)

Cablegram 204 6 April 1941,

Following cablegram has been received by Spender [1] from Blamey [2]:-

'Reference proposal withdraw Australian Units from Lustre for reinforcement Cyrenaica. Have cabled Commander-in-Chief [3] today as follows- BEGINS-In view difficulty maintaining large enemy force in North Africa consider full advantage should be taken of (a) Desert and (b) our amphibious power.

Retention Libya is not vital to defence Egypt however much its loss may affect British prestige.

In Southern Europe the Germans can assemble overwhelming air and land forces much faster than we can.

Unless built up to adequate strength with land and air forces the Imperial Forces in Greece will shortly be in grave peril. ENDS.' This has direct bearing upon my cable of the 5th April No. 202 [4] relating to Wavell's communique No. 54285. It is I think advisable apart from other considerations to stress need for large additional numbers of anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns aeroplanes and tanks. These are given special emphasis in private letter from Mackay [5] which has been sighted by Spender. The reported advance by Germany against Yugo-Slavia and Greece with the possibility of a major thrust by Germany in Libya make imperative most careful appreciation of our position which if miscalculated may well result in disaster to our troops in both areas.


1 Minister for the Army.

2 General Officer Commanding 2nd A.I.F. in the Middle East.

3 General Sir Archibald Wavell.

4 Document 385.

5 General Officer Commanding 6th Division, 2nd A.I.F.

[AA:A3196,1941, 0.4266]