80 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 68 27 February 1940,


Reference your cables regarding Finland. [1] Whole matter fully discussed with my colleague. [2] I think that there has been a tendency to lose sight of the major proposal regarding assistance to Finland. In particular, I refer to the decisions of the Supreme War Council at Paris with the main lines of which I agree though in the absence of further information should be strongly opposed to the Petsamo proposition. The more recent and minor proposal regarding Norwegian territorial waters might if unrelated to Finland prejudice our position with neutral countries and though it would no doubt give us immediate benefit in relation to Germany it would not save in the most indirect sense tend to prevent Finland from being overrun. Feel that a conquest of Finland by Russia would be a major disaster and that any proposals which bear directly upon helping Finland are to be preferred both in time and order of importance to proposals which relate to our special Norwegian territorial waters problem. It would appear that if the Paris proposals were carried out and Scandinavian countries refused to co-operate, world opinion would thoroughly support us in any attempt we might make to prevent Norwegian territorial waters from being used against us. If on the other hand Scandinavian countries co-operated assistance to Finland would be given much more effectively than by a speculative excursion to Petsamo and if the consequence was that Germany declared war on Norway and Sweden automatic result would be that supplies of iron ore to Germany from Sweden would be cut off, she would be denied the use of Scandinavian waters, and therefore the net result at least for a substantial time ahead would be to her disadvantage.

Urge therefore that the undoubted attractions of proposed action in territorial waters should not be allowed to obscure originally contemplated major plan provided there is not too much delay. [3]


1 See Document 69, note 2; Document 74, note 2; Document 76, note 1.

2 The discussion took place in War Cabinet on 27 February 1940, where it was agreed that the drafting of a reply be left to Menzies. (See AA: A2673, vol. 2, Minute 179.) 3 This cablegram was repeated to S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London.

[AA: A981, EUROPE 30, ii]