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

Cablegram 247 26 April 1941,

On receipt your 109 of the 25th February [1] containing Lustreforce proposals my Government realising utmost importance of assistance to Greece agreed to participation of Australian troops and advised you to this effect through Australian Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who was then in London but such participation made conditional on understanding troops would be equipped with modern equipment on maximum establishment scale and we received assurance your Government to this effect. Advices since received from our overseas Forces however give us cause for concern as to adequacy of equipment made available and in view of the gallant stand our troops have made and the part they may continue to be required to take in further active service, my Government wishes to impress upon the Government of the United Kingdom that while assuring them of our determined resolution to stand by the side of the Motherland in our common and just cause, we must insist that our Australian soldiers are afforded the maximum protection in battle that can be secured by the issue of modern equipment to the fullest possible extent.

We are advised, however, that as at the 2nd April the following deficiencies in initial fighting equipment, apart from war wastage requirements, existed in the Australian Imperial Corps in the Middle East consisting of corps troops and Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Divisions:-

3 inch mortars -20 Bren guns -700 Two-pounder anti-tank guns -140 25 pounder guns -110 Universal carriers -450 Motor cycles-total of 280 on issue against war establishment 3,130 Mechanical transport-serious deficiencies in Seventh Division.

My Government is aware that you are faced with tremendous supply problems and we are endeavouring to assist as far as local production will permit but present local output of majority above items is relatively insignificant.

Would appreciate early advice of action taken to meet immediately items of high priority such as 2 pounder anti-tank and Bren guns and position generally in regard to equipment requirements of our Forces in the Middle East.

1 On file AA: A981, War 46, i.

[AA:A3196, 1941, 0.5236]