153 Note by Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, of Meeting of Dominion High Commissioners

LONDON, 17 April 1940

More southern operation in Norway now well under way and developing. If successful results would be regarded as most satisfactory. This was the only information we obtained with regard to the contemplated move in Norway. As it was felt it was a military operation it was undesirable to press for further details.

The Foreign Secretary [1] has seen the Swedish Minister [2] and found him in a much more robust frame of mind. At the moment the Swedes appear quite determined to resist any German action. This information was confirmed in telegrams which have been received from Mallet [3] and from Gie [4] in Stockholm.

We had some discussion with regard to the Netherlands East Indies position in the event of Germans going into Holland and I was given a cablegram from the Prime Minister of Australia which had just been received [5], sent in response to my telegram of last night. [6] The suggestion of full consultation with the U.S.A.

Government has been accepted and Lothian [7] has, been instructed to take the matter up.

We went through a long file of non-distribution cables, all of which were with regard to the reactions in different countries to the present position.

From Rome there were somewhat conflicting reports but I still feel that Mussolini is contemplating a move.

We then had a considerable discussion as to what the Allies' action should be in the event of a move by Mussolini. This discussion arose out of cables from Paris indicating that the French War Cabinet had been considering the position.

I urged the importance of the question and asked whether the necessary political and military decisions had been taken in anticipation of such a move.

Eden's [8] reply was that no political decisions had been taken but that the subject had been the matter of consideration by the Chiefs of Staff ever since the war started.

I urged that the political decision ought to have been taken already; ought to have been discussed and agreed with the French and our Military plans all ought to have been revised and had the final approval put upon them so that we were ready to act at a moment's notice.

Eden's argument was that you could not do that until you knew what the Turkish attitude was going to be and generally how the Balkan Entente would react to an attack by Italy.

I replied that you could not act until you knew all those things but there was no possible reason why you could not decide how you were going to act under any given set of circumstances.

The substance of what I said was that I was not at all satisfied that our whole machinery for directing the war was working in a way which would enable prompt decisions to be come to, that what would happen would be a delay of days before we could get moving.

Eden, as usual, said he would take the matter up but I am quite sure he will do nothing.

I left the matter by expressing my dissatisfaction of the position but I am getting so tired of reiterating the same story without any results that I did not press the matter further.

1 Lord Halifax.

2 B. G. Prytz.

3 U.K. Minister to Sweden.

4 South African Minister to Sweden.

5 Document 152.

6 Document 150.

7 U.K. Ambassador to the United States.

8 U.K. Dominions Secretary.

[AA: M100, APRIL 1940]