501 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr W. S. Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister

Cablegram Gordon 2 [1] 12 June 1941,


I am sending you a cable on behalf of the Advisory War Council.

[2] You will gather from it that there is the acutest anxiety regarding air protection. There is a considerable body of public opinion which is being encouraged to believe that troops in the Middle East are not adequately equipped, and I really believe that this talk is affecting recruiting.

The notion of withdrawing the Australian Forces from Cyprus highly commended itself to one intensely political and defeatist Labour member [3], but it was not welcome to any of the others, though there is naturally a strong desire to avoid another forced evacuation.

Personally I am quite sure that the tactics of pushing on in Syria are right since this gives the best kind of protection to Cyprus.

I have emphasised that with all your natural concern for the safety of Great Britain-the integrity of which is of equal importance to us-you have set no limit to the movement of aeroplanes into Egypt except the physical limits of transportation.

The Opposition Leader [4] thinks that he detected in your last speech in the House of Commons some indication that you regarded the Middle East as of secondary importance. I have contested this view very strongly but you would strengthen my hand and therefore the general morale of this country very much if you could send very soon not only the information requested in my official cable but also some message to my War Council, expressed in your own characteristic way, indicating the significance which you attach to the defence of the Middle East and your realisation. of the importance of giving the troops there the greatest possible equipment in the shortest possible time.

I am indeed sorry to impose even this additional task upon you but you will I know understand that I am not doing it without good reason.

Kindest regards.

1 The prefix 'Gordon' was used for a special series of personal cablegrams from Menzies to Churchill. The first cablegram in the series was probably sent on 8 June. See Document 493, note 2.

2 Document 500.

3 J. A. Beasley. See Advisory War Council Minute 373 of 12 June in AA: A2682, vol. 2.

4 John Curtin.

[AA: A3196, 1941, 0.7921]