508 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr. R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 422 LONDON, 18 June 1941


My telegram of 10th May Commonwealth of Australia No. 332 [1] New Zealand No. 190.

Movement of three United States battleships, four cruisers and fourteen destroyers of the Pacific Fleet through the Canal into the Atlantic has been completed. This was in addition to one aircraft carrier and five destroyers which passed through a month ago.

United States naval authorities recently enquired whether recent damage to our ships in the Mediterranean had altered the views which we had expressed in regard to the proposal that a more substantial part of the United States Pacific Fleet should be immediately transferred to the Atlantic. They expressed the view that, in the temporarily changed circumstances, it might be wiser to retain a larger United States naval force in the Pacific until our situation was rectified.

We have replied that, in view of the number of capital ships which we have out of action at the moment, we concur in their view that no further movement of the United States Pacific Fleet should take place, at the present time, beyond that which has already been effected. But we have added that we are still impressed with the importance of the proposed further move into the Atlantic and that, unless anything further occurs in the meantime, we should be in favour of it taking place at latest in August, by which time the situation regarding British ships should have improved and United States Pacific Fleet may possibly have been reinforced by two new battleships.

1 On file AA: A1608, A41/1/1, xxi. It conveyed the information contained in Document 448.