410 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 237 18 April 1941,

MOST SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

Receipt is acknowledged of your cablegrams of 16th and 17th April, Z. 122 and Z. 123 [1] regarding position in Greece. In the circumstances the immediate evacuation of our troops from the mainland of Greece is essential. We note and fully concur in the decision to hold Crete in force but hope that in the redistribution of his forces the Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East [2] will not find it necessary to use Australian troops for this purpose as it is the wish of my Government that, subject to any overriding circumstances making such a course unavoidable the Australian troops in the Middle East might be reassembled together as a complete corps. As stated in my cable No. 235 of 17th April [3] my Government places the highest importance on the maintenance of the security of our position in Egypt and the protection of the Suez Canal. We fully appreciate the difficulties with which you are faced but as a substantial body of Australian fighting troops are vitally concerned we trust that the plans for their evacuation which have been prepared in advance as requested in our earlier messages may be successfully implemented in regard to our men, and that it will be possible also to save their equipment, which will have such an important bearing on the future disposition of the troops and the manner in which they can be utilised. Glad to be kept continuously informed of progress of evacuation and other important moves.

1 On file AA: A1608, E41/1/3, i.

2 General Sir Archibald Wavell.

3 Document 407.

[AA: A3196, 1941, 0.4829]