387 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London

Cablegram unnumbered CANBERRA, 4 March 1942


To be decyphered by Stirling and given to Sir Stafford Cripps [1] alone.


1. So far as was possible we have adopted your suggestion made through Bruce [2] and have offered to make two brigades of A.I.F.

available as temporary garrison Ceylon. (See our telegram No. 160.

[3]) 2. However we find that owing to circumlocution and other obstacles the flow of munitions here is only a trickle. For instance the bulk of United States production of Tommy guns and ammunition for warships (twenty-five thousand guns) [4] is going to the United Kingdom. We are in such a pass that Casey [5] in the United States has to wire to Bruce in London to ask General Macready [6] whether he might allocate proportion of these to Australia. Obviously these matters involve higher political direction rather than (wangling) or influence at a different stage.

3. On 12 August 1940 Churchill laid down the following principle to Australia and New Zealand. 'If however contrary to prudence and self-interest Japan sets about invading Australia and New Zealand on a large scale I have the explicit authority of the Cabinet to assure you that we should then cut our losses in the Mediterranean and proceed to your aid sacrificing every interest except only defence safety (sic) of this island on which all depends.' [7]

4. The above is a political and strategical guarantee the meaning and application of which I pray will never be debated in public.

5. The crisis has brought Australia and New Zealand (closer) together and within a few hours we shall probably be making a joint request to you and the United States as to a new United Kingdom/United States Anzac Council at (Washington) to cover Australia, New Zealand and Anzac area, a supreme commander and a modification of jurisdiction of Chiefs of Staff Committee at (Washington) by addition of Australian and New Zealand representation. [8] Frankly on this occasion support from United Kingdom instead of opposition is vital. If so future misunderstandings may be avoided. It is thought that if the United Kingdom agree Roosevelt will also agree. I hope (you will) spare no effort to [assist] [9] us.

6. I desire to mention also the recent Russian request in relation to post-war boundaries. (See Dominions Office telegram D. No. 112.

United Kingdom Government urging boundary request (should be) granted in principle but on the understanding peoples of areas concerned had expressed or would express their concurrence to Russian Government. [12] If so the Atlantic Charter would be obeyed. To argue around it and about at this moment seems to us suicidal.

7. I have also asked Bruce to get Maisky [13] to urge the making of an official Russian statement warning Japan against encroachment upon Australia (and) New Zealand.

8. I think also that Russia should be prepared to enter the fight against Japan if we agreed to her present boundary suggestions.

Message ends.

[AA:M100, MARCH 1942]

1 U.K. Lord Privy Seal.

2 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. See Document 382.

3 Document 385.

4 Words and phrases in round brackets (other than references to cablegrams) were presumably so marked because of deciphering difficulties in London. Evatt's draft (in Flinders University Library: Evatt Papers, Attorney-Gencral's Dept file MI, Minister Personal Telegrams) indicates that they are correct.

5 Minister to the United States.

6 Assistant Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

7 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, Document 64.

8 See Document 388.

9 Inserted from Evatt's draft on the file cited in note 4.

10 Dispatched 27 February. On file AA:A2937, Russia (Political:

secret telegrams).

11 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

12 See Documents 212 and 242.

13 U.S.S.R. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

[10]) When Eden [11] was at Moscow some months ago we cabled the