The Prime Minister of Australia (Menzies) to President Roosevelt 9

In this hour of great emergency not only for Great Britain and France but also for Australia and the other British Dominions, I desire to put before you certain considerations.

Though we are determined to win and are by no means anticipating defeat, it is still obviously possible that France may be defeated and that in such an event Great Britain’s power to resist Germany will depend on her navy and her ability to resist or prevent an attack.

This would mean that air strength would become vital and I do not need to point out to you that Germany has great numerical preponderance. Successful attacks upon factories interrupting production might be decisive.

I hope that you will not find me unduly unconventional if I say to you as the head of the greatest but most friendly neutral power that to prevent the British fleet falling into German hands must be of the greatest importance to the U. S. A. and that I cannot believe the U. S. A. can view with anything but acute anxiety a Europe completely dominated by Germany and a victorious Germany exercising undisputed power in the Eastern Atlantic and adjoining seas. One must also remember that in the event of a defeat to Great Britain the possession of West Indian islands would undoubtedly be demanded by Germany.

I believe that your great country has it in its power to make a decisive contribution without actually participating. The one country that can rapidly and substantially increase British air power is U. S. A. and even if this means despatch to Great Britain of machines already in commission in or designed for your own Air Force, I would most earnestly urge you to follow that course.

I am quite confident of British capacity to meet all attacks against the United Kingdom and in turn to inflict such damage upon Germany as to produce her defeat—provided the United States can supply the additional aeroplanes which are needed. But quite plainly—and [Page 6] I know that you would wish me to speak plainly—without most prompt assistance from the United States there must be a grave danger of a state of affairs developing, more or less quickly, in which the power of Great Britain to defend liberty and free institutions is destroyed and in which we, your English-speaking neighbours across the Pacific basin, must find our own independence, it seems, imperilled.

There is in Australia a great belief in your friendliness and goodwill. We feel that we are fighting for immortal things which you value as we do and on behalf of my own people I beg for your earnest consideration and swift action.

  1. Transmitted by the Counselor of the Australian Legation, Keith Officer, to the President on May 26, 1940; copy left at the Department by Mr. Officer on the same date.