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

Cablegram 387 LONDON, 2 September 1939, 3.29 p.m.

FOR PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

As indicated in my telegram to the Prime Minister [1], the statement that the Ambassador [2] would ask for his passport was departed from and the procedure indicated in Dominions Office cable has been followed. [3] Owing to the French urgently desiring a few more hours to complete mobilisation if reply refusing cessation of hostilities and withdrawal is received before the French are ready, ultimatum will be handed to the Germans expiring at an hour which gives the French the necessary time. If reply received soon after such hour, immediate declaration of war will be made. If further delay in receiving reply, action will be taken, whether with or without further communication of views not yet decided.

Position therefore at the moment actual state of war does not exist.

Fighting of the lightest possible character so far and the Poles have not been pushed back.

This fact plus information from the Ambassador at Berlin points to the possibility that German reply may contain further attempt to avoid war.

The Prime Minister [4] is making statement at 2.45 and indicating will probably interrupt proceedings to make further statement later.

BRUCE

1 Cablegram 383, sent 1 September 1939, 10.50 p.m., not printed (on file AA: A981, Germany 83B, iii).

2 Sir Nevile Henderson, U.K. Ambassador to Germany.

3 See UK Dominions Secretary's circular cablegram C33, sent 1 September 1939, 6.02 p.m., not printed (on file AA: A981, Germany 83B, iii).

4 Neville Chamberlain.

[AA: A981, GERMANY 83B, iii]