54 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered8 August 1940,


Your telegram No. 638, Middle East. [1] I am completely in accord with your view and have felt ever since the final evacuation from France that our position in Egypt and the Middle East was in grave danger. Egypt and the Canal can be accepted as Italy's main objective in this war and a successful attack would give spectacular and far-reaching results, involving not only our elimination from a vital sphere but endangering our interests in Iraq, Iran and India, as well as giving encouragement to Japan for acts of further aggression.

Until we received cablegram Z. 168 of 3rd July [2] giving actual British strengths and dispositions we were under the impression that there were substantial forces stationed in this region.

Despite ten months of war and imminent entry of Italy at any stage it was disquieting to learn that by July forces in occupation constituted little more than peacetime garrison requirements.

It is to be hoped the steps you indicate are now being taken can be put into effect before the offensive which is presaged by present enemy activity.


1 This cablegram, dispatched August, is on file AA:A981, War 57, i. Bruce reported that he had been pressing for the maximum reinforcement of Allied troops in the Middle East.

2 Document 8.

[AA:A3196, 1940, 0.5583]