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

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 12 April 1940, 12.05 p.m.

Your telegram 10th April. [1] Dominions Office advise as follows- Difficulties concerning suppression of news of movements of the QUEEN MARY and MAURETANIA arise from circumstances beyond the control of Allied censorship authorities.

When such vessels call at neutral ports, it must be accepted that news must be available to the enemy and no attempt to suppress within Allied territories will prevent this. When such information has been made public abroad, it is not the practice of the United Kingdom censorship to suppress repetition by the United Kingdom press or B.B.C. provided that it is made clear that the report comes from neutral and not Allied source. To a certain extent, the information will consist of facts such as the arrival which is easily verifiable by the enemy; to a larger extent it will consist of unconfirmed inferences, distorted or exaggerated. The most which Allied censorship can accomplish is to refrain from confirmation or correction of such reports.

In the case of the QUEEN MARY and the MAURETANIA, departures from New York with attending circumstances had obvious implications, confirmed by the arrival of the MAURETANIA at Panama and Honolulu, but relevant facts leading to these inferences could not be suppressed.

There remains an essential difference between allowing the B.B.C.

or Press to repeat such facts or rumours from neutral sources, which are already available to the enemy, whose reliability and accuracy he must assess and verify himself, and authorizing statements by Empire sources not available to him or with Empire authority. It is of course the intention that any news of the arrival at or departure from ports within the jurisdiction of Allie[d Governments] [2] should be rigorously suppressed.

In view of the special reliability in this connection of news from Australian sources, His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom feel that it would be most undesirable if information from Australian sources relating to the presence of these ships and escorts in Australian waters were to be permitted. It will be noticed that no reference to the QUEEN MARY has been made since her departure from New York.

Above should be regarded also as a reply to your telegram to Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, No. 100 of 18th March [3], to which it was not appreciated that any reply was required until receipt of telegram 131 of 9th April. [4]


1 Document 133.

2 Part of this cablegram was torn. The words apparently missing have been inserted in square brackets.

3 On file AA: A1608, C21/1/2.

4 Not found.

[FA: A3195, 1.2373]