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

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 19 September 1939, 2.46 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET PERSONAL HIMSELF ONLY

Your personal cable. [1] I entirely share your views as to the importance of Australian Minister in the United States and the invaluable service individual with right personality could render in promoting better British-American understanding and maximum assistance in supplies, finance, etc., while neutral, and greatest, co-operation if the United States engaged in hostilities.

Being uncertain where I could render most useful service I decided best course was to consult the Prime Minister. [2] He entirely shared the views expressed above but stressed that, important as Washington is, it is transcended in the present circumstances by London. He urged that unless and until you personally can come to London and as Prime Minister of Australia sit in the Imperial War Cabinet, it was essential that I should continue as High Commissioner owing to personal contacts and the position which I have in London enabling me to function in a way it would be difficult for anyone else to do. We then explored the practicability of me covering both places in the same way as Diplomatic Ministers are accredited to two Governments, spending part of the time in each place; for example the Canadian Minister accredited to Holland and Belgium.

If such an arrangement were practicable the Prime Minister saw great merit in it as I could act as connecting link between the United Kingdom and the United States Government, which was lacking owing to the impossibility of sending a British Minister to the United States in view of the reactions of Congress and American public opinion, and as I could say things, being an Australian, which no one from here could. While there are obvious objections to such an arrangement, there are very real advantages and if you are in grave difficulties in finding a suitable person to send to America it could be explored. It would of course be subject to its being acceptable to the United States Administration, and this I could ascertain privately and confidentially. In the event of your deciding that you want to use me in this way, presume an announcement suitably worded would be made down the lines that an Australian Minister was to be appointed to the United States and that I was to be first Minister and that I was proceeding immediately to the United States to present my credentials and establish Legation but that owing to the existing war situation it was necessary for the present that I should retain my position as High Commissioner in England and that I would spend my time in such proportion between London and Washington as circumstances required.

BRUCE

1 Document 227.

2 Neville Chamberlain.

[AA:CP 290/6, ITEM 1]