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

Cablegram 63 LONDON, 21 January 1941, 7 p.m.


Bangkok. [1] Necessary arrangements can be made to hold Flying Boat for 24 hours and itinerary would be 1 day later at subsequent points. I gather your decision to pay official visit influenced by view of British Minister Bangkok. Discreet enquiries here without disclosing your definite intention show Foreign Office view would be somewhat different to Minister's. I think their probable attitude would be that while they are anxious to do everything possible to bring about a settlement of Thai-Indo-China dispute they would feel that an official visit from a British Prime Minister at this stage (a) would be exploited by Thais and (b) might be misinterpreted by French and Americans.

With regard to French although Governor General of Indo-China [2] has declined United Kingdom's offer of good offices United Kingdom Government would deprecate anything that might prejudice possibility of their promoting direct negotiations at a later stage should opportunity occur.

With regard to Americans owing to U.S.A.'s unreal and obstinate attitude of regarding Thais as aggressors visit might cause considerable friction.

Foreign Office would probably feel that if visit were unofficial points indicated above would not have same force but that discussions with Thais in view of delicate position with French and Americans might prove embarrassing.

Felt you would desire have probable reactions here to proposed visit.

Please advise your decision urgently as if it is to pay official or unofficial visit necessary instructions to hold Flying Boat at Bangkok have to be sent. [3]


1 On 20 January Menzies informed Bruce that in accordance with the advice of the U.K. Minister to Thailand, Sir Josiah Crosby, he intended to make his transit stop in Bangkok an official visit in recognition of the visit of the Thai Goodwill Mission to Australia in November 1940 (see Document 94). See unnumbered cablegram on file AA M100, January 1941.

2 Vice Admiral Jean Decoux.

3 On 23 January Menzies informed Bruce that he would visit Bangkok in an unofficial capacity but would be glad to meet the Thai Prime Minister (Maj Gen Luang P. Pibulsonggram). On 24 January Menzies (then in Darwin en route to Bangkok, Cairo and London) received a cablegram (AA A3195, 1941, 1.1161) from the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Shenton Thomas, which also advised him against making a special halt in Bangkok. For the reply to Thomas, which was in similar terms to that sent to Bruce, see AA:A3196, 1941, 0.991.

[AA M100, JANUARY 1941]