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

Cablegram unnumbered, 15 February 1940

PERSONAL AND SECRET

In light of subsequent happenings am at loss to understand why British authorities your end insisted on drastic restriction terms of official announcement arrival A.I.F. Absence of highly relevant facts in statement, but since revealed, have caused me great embarrassment.

Although first told this end desirable state troops disembarking Middle East, and then Egypt, never agreed that Suez should be mentioned, yet Suez specifically mentioned from London few hours after my statement issued.

My statement made no reference Eden's visit, accordance your telegram [1], but think should point out your telegram of February 12th [2] stating announcement to be made 13th arrived here some hours after fact disclosed from London as part of arrival story.

Take strongest exception refusal to allow reference to fact that battleship formed part of escort, as publication presence of battleship these waters of considerable value in assuring public, conveying sense of security, and stimulating recruiting. Also this fact broadcast from New Zealand. Unable appreciate reason for reticence weeks afterwards.

Further, why was it not possible to state troops going Egypt further training. Cannot believe Germans unaware A.I.F. not completely trained, and publication of fact of value in preventing relatives unnecessarily anticipating early casualty lists.

Recently some important messages, particularly one affecting censorship, sent from Admiralty to Australian Navy Board.

Essential to make clear that messages from Admiralty to Navy Board not to be employed as channel for inter-Governmental communications to Australian Government.

Appreciate your strongest representations these points, which live issue here and inference being drawn some quarters Government submitting external dictation on matters pre-eminently Australian concern. [3]

MENZIES

1 Bruce's cablegram 108 of 8 February 1940 (on file AA: A1608, A41/1/1, vii) informed Menzies that the U.K. Dominions Secretary, Anthony Eden, was to visit Egypt ostensibly to welcome Australian and New Zealand troops, but in fact to hold conversation with the Egyptian Government.

2 Bruce's cablegram 112 on file AA: M100, February 1940.

3 On 16 February 1940 Bruce reported: 'Have made strongest representations down the lines of your telegram of the 15th February. As a result, meeting of representatives of all Departments concerned was held today and I understand direct reply being despatched tonight.' (See unnumbered cablegram in series FA:

A3195, 1.1087.)

[FA: A3196, 0.903]