Page:Minutes of War Cabinet Meeting 1.djvu/6

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of the local naval and military authorities should be obtained, and especially that General Sarrail should report explicitly on the whole situation.

8. The War Cabinet were advised by Lord Curzon, as former President of the Shipping Control Committee, that it was extremely doubtful whether the necessary shipping could be found for the proposed additional divisions.

The First Sea Lord undertook that the Admiralty would examine this question before the Conference referred to above.

The Shipping Director.9. The Prime Minister informed the War Cabinet that Sir Joseph Maclay was to be appointed Shipping Director. At the outset he was to take the presidency of the Shipping Control Committee, but was to have extended powers, as to which he would himself report, after examination.

The War Cabinet directed their Secretary to invite the Admiralty and the Board of Trade to give Sir Joseph Maclay every possible facility and assistance.

Press Communiqués of War Cabinet Meetings.10. The Secretary was directed to issue a communiqué to the Press after the first meeting following the confirmation of new Ministers in their offices, to the effect that the War Cabinet had met, and would continue to meet every week-day, so that no further announcements would be necessary.

The Arab Revolt.
Attended for this Question:
The Right Hon. A. Chamberlain, M.P., Secretary of State for India.
11. The War Cabinet discussed at considerable length the question of the expediency of sending a British force to Rabegh.

Rabegh is a small port, situated on the main road from Medina to Mecca. Although there are alternative routes inland they are badly supplied with water, and, so far as information is available it seems probable that the Turkish force at Medina can only march south to Mecca, with the object of ousting the Sherif, by the road which passes through Rabegh. A considerable quantity of stores, supplied by the Allies to the Sherif, including a number of aeroplanes, is concentrated at Rabegh, which consequently possesses considerable strategical importance.

There has for some time been much conflict of opinion as to the desirability of sending troops to defend this place.

The military view, which was explained to the War Cabinet by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, is that to send troops to Rabegh is to divert them from more important theatres from which they cannot be spared; that we cannot judge of the extent of the commitment; that even if we send the troops with the object merely of providing a passive defence of Rabegh, it will be very difficult for them to avoid going to the assistance of their Allies who may be suffering defeat a few miles distant - in fact, the troops might be compelled to do so in their own interest; that it is dangerous to send too small a force, which might be exterminated, and that two infantry brigades, with the necessary auxiliary arms, and the administrative services, amounting to about 15,000 men, is the smallest force which it would be safe to send; that the climate is very bad, and the water supply quite inadequate; that the troops now in Egypt are urgently required for the operations about to be undertaken in the near future in the direction of El Arish, and that the exploitation of this operation will be frustrated by the withdrawal of troops to Rabegh; and finally, that Egypt holds our only reserves to meet eventualities in the