399 Mr R.G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development, to Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram C.59 LONDON, 1 December 1939, 10.58 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET FOR PRIME MINISTER

In reply to your telegram received today. [1] In view of last two paragraphs I believe my telegrams must have been misunderstood. At no time has there been any sort of pressure by the United Kingdom Government but on the contrary there has been the most complete recognition that the decision as to the despatch of the Australian expeditionary force was solely for determination by the Commonwealth Government. All arrangements regarding necessary shipping were entirely of a tentative character. Ships had, however, to be engaged in advance for transport duties owing to the complexity of arrangements involving the diversion of shipping necessary to fit the Australian division into Empire-wide troop movements and providing the necessary naval escort so that, should the Commonwealth Government decide to despatch the division, the necessary shipping and naval vessels would be available at approximately the required period.

The Ministry of Shipping was definitely informed that any tentative shipping arrangements that they made were subject to the ultimate decision of Commonwealth Government, and that we were not committed directly or indirectly.

In view your telegram I have not informed British Government until you advise me to do so.

CASEY

1 Document 398.

[AA: A1608, B45/2/1]