23rd February, 1928


My dear P.M.,

Sir William Tyrrell [1] goes to Paris and Sir Ronald Lindsay from Berlin to take his place at the Foreign Office. So the great secret is out that has been intriguing this part of the world for some time. Everyone speaks well of Lindsay, although admitting that he lacks the impish cleverness of Tyrrell. I am told that Tyrrell was influenced to a certain extent, in accepting this appointment abroad, by his distress at the 'Gregory' affair. [2]

Lord Erroll died a few days ago. He was British High Commissioner in the Rhineland and I knew him quite well. His daughter [3] married my brother-in-law (Rupert Ryan) and she was staying with us when he died.

Erroll's death means that no less than seven new and unexpected appointments will have to be made to or from the Foreign Office in the near future, and possibly ten. The British Representative to Canada (if it is a Foreign Office appointment) [4], Nichols [5] (who has gone from the Foreign Office to New Zealand), Paris (Sir William Tyrrell), Rhineland High Commissioner (Erroll), Vansittart [6] (from American Department to Prime Minister's office), men to replace Sir William Max-Muller [7] and Sir L. Carnegie [8] (both retired Ambassadors), and possibly men to replace Gregory [9], O'Malley [10] and Maxse. [11] This is a greater clearance than has taken place at one time than almost ever before, and will undoubtedly, in my mind at least, strain the resources of the Diplomatic Service. It will, however, have the advantage of getting younger men up into positions of responsibility a good deal earlier in life than would normally occur, and so enable them to prove themselves while they have some 'spring' in them.

There is a good deal of uneasiness in the Dominions Office as to the way the office is tending. They see themselves administered in part only of the time of an overworked Cabinet Minister. They see the New Zealand liaison appointment given to the Foreign Office, and they know that the Foreign Office is lobbying hard to get the Canadian appointment. They see the Foreign Office more and more tending to deal direct with Dominions on Foreign Affairs. They wonder, not unnaturally, if the tendency is not towards the Dominions Office in the future being taken over by the Foreign Office as a Department. I put the above thoughts to a high official in the Dominions Office lately and he gnashed his teeth and said that undoubtedly there were signs in this direction.

Personally I think it would not be a bad solution, although I know the many arguments on both sides of the question.

The weekly meetings that Amery [12] instituted at which he used to see all the Dominion High Commissioners together have lapsed for some time and I believe will not be reinstituted. I hear that Mackenzie King [13] was instrumental in having them stopped as he thought that they amounted to an assumption that the High Commissioners were the channel of communication with their Dominions.

It has been quite obvious for some time that Larkin [14] and Smit [15] have agreed to work together whenever co-operation is necessary. Previously, the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners at Geneva and elsewhere usually thought and spoke alike, whereas Canada and South Africa, although vaguely of a mind, were not constituted as a 'bloc'. Now, however, I am told that they see a lot of each other and speak practically with one voice.

The scandalmongers even go so far as to say that Larkin finances Smit in order to ensure co-operation. Larkin is very rich and Strut notoriously badly off.

South Africa has been in touch with the Foreign Office for some time with regard to making their Commissioner for Commerce in Europe into a 'Charge d'affaires and Consul General for Europe', with headquarters in Switzerland but not at Berne, the capital.

The Foreign Office have pointed out that the composite title is a meaningless one, according to accepted diplomatic usage, and would create confusion in people's minds. They point out (a) that a single individual cannot be accredited to a dozen countries at once; (b) that 'Charge d'affaires' is the diplomatic designation given to a temporary occupant of a regular diplomatic post; and (c) that if he is South African Consul-General, then he must arrange to look after the interests of South African nationals in Europe, in which case it would be redundant and confusing if South Africans were also coped with by British consular posts.

They have also, I am told, been enquiring at the Foreign Office if their Trade Commissioner in New York can with advantage be turned into a South African Consul-General.

It has just been decided that the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York are to get copies of all Cabinet papers. I was astonished to hear that they had not been seeing them these several years. I believe that the King has been against it; in fact he is, I am told, not very keen even now. It is history repeating itself, as King Edward would never let the present King have access to such papers or indeed, I believe, have any responsibility for as long as he could keep him out of it.

Yesterday I showed the letter I wrote you last week on the Duke of York [16] to Vansittart, and he suggested that Hodgson [17] and he and I should meet soon to discuss it. He agrees that you are the person to bell the cat! He bases this on the fact that advice or prompting on the subject from the London end has become, in his eyes, hackneyed and suspect of being inspired by his family. He agrees that Mackenzie King could not possibly approach the subject with him but that you are ideally situated to do so. I suggested that, at the next Imperial Conference in 1929, if you asked for an audience with the Prince of Wales immediately you arrived in London, and then (after the usual and suitable preliminaries) you rather bounced into the subject, as if you had had it on your mind following on your knowledge of public opinion in Australia-it would have the merit of spontaneity and dramatic effect.

There has been some little display of feeling on the part of Major Rowe [18], Military Liaison Officer at Australia House, by reason of the material that I have sent out to you suggesting that there might be something in the South African Coast Defence Report that would make you hesitate before implementing our Australian Coast Defence Report. [19] The 'leak' came about through the 'Air' people in Defence in Melbourne wiring to the Australian 'Air' Liaison Officer [20] in London saying that I had sent out certain 'advice' on this subject and asking for full particulars. The 'Air' Liaison Officer here talked to the Military Liaison Officer- and so on. However, I have put it right with the High Commissioner [21] and with Major Rowe. But the 'Air' people in Melbourne were rather ham-fisted in the matter. I have explained to the High Commissioner that it is your desire and intention that I should send out to you any information that arises in the Committee of Imperial Defence dealing with Australian defence from the policy or political standpoint, notwithstanding the fact that any or all of the Australian Fighting Services Liaison Officers might send the same material out to the Defence Department. Only in this way is it possible for the External Affairs Department in Canberra to be kept up to date in the larger aspects of Imperial Defence that, I take it, are just as much their affair as Foreign Affairs proper.

The personal letter that I wrote Sir William Glasgow [22] a month or so ago on this subject turns out to have been timely.

Amongst the Foreign Office print going to you officially this week are two despatches (from H.M. Minister in Cuba [23] and H.M.

Ambassador at Washington [24]) about the Havana meeting of the Pan-American Union. They are cynical and illuminating about the relations between the United States and Latin America.

As Sir Esme Howard said:

The Expression on the face of Uncle Sam ... on approaching the Conference might be described as a cross between the benevolent Nordic Viking, the stern nurse who slaps naughty children who make trouble in the nursery, and the cat which ate the canary.

The opera bouffe procession of Amanulla of Afghanistan through Europe continues. The record of his time in Paris is contained in this week's print. The French press couldn't find much to say about Afghanistan so they threw out the suggestion that as Great Britain and Russia were interested parties vis-a-vis Afghanistan, wouldn't it be a good idea for Afghanistan to look to France as a disinterested country with which to promote trade and culture?

I believe that the High Commissioner has written you lately on two subjects that I have also mentioned in the past-the scale of allowances for Australian delegates to League meetings, and the question of an up-to-date cypher for official Commonwealth use.

Both these subjects are ones on which considerable economies could be effected.

There is, unfortunately, a good deal of depreciation of Australia as a field for investment going on in London at the present time.

One hears it directly and indirectly from a good many quarters. I don't know what you can do about it. It is not the sort of thing that can be properly countered by assertions of our prosperity, although, no doubt, occasional well-written articles in the financial press would do some good.

I now hear that Trenchard [25] will continue as Chief of the Air Staff until about October 1929.

At a small dinner party recently, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham [26] was announced by a rather flustered maid, unaccustomed to such lengthy nomenclature, as 'Mr. Air Popham'!

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

2 See Letters 92 and 93.

3 Lady Rosemary Hay.

4 See note 18 to Letter 92.

5 P.B.B. Nichols, seconded for service in New Zealand.

6 Robert Vansittart, Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister.

7 Sir William Max-Muller, Minister to Poland 1920-28.

8 Sir Lancelot Carnegie, Minister and (from 1924) Ambassador to Portugal 1913-28.

9 J.D. Gregory, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, dismissed from the service for currency speculation.

10 Owen O'Malley, First Secretary at the Foreign Office, permitted to resign for involvement in currency speculation but reinstated a year later.

11 H. F. B. Maxse, Second Secretary at the Foreign Office, was severely reprimanded for currency speculation and forfeited three years' seniority.

12 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

13 William Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister.

14 Peter Larkin, Canadian High Commissioner.

15 Jacobus Smit, South African High Commissioner.

16 See Letter 100.

17 P.K. Hodgson, Private Secretary to the Duke of York.

18 Major G.C. Rowe.

19 In the event, at Bruce's suggestion, any decision on Australian coastal defence was postponed. With the Army and the Air Force in competition, Bruce was disinclined to allow a final decision while air technology was developing so rapidly (letter from Bruce to Casey of 14 April 1928 on file AA:A1420). See also Letters 88 and 89.

20 Wing Cmndr W. H. Anderson.

21 Sir Granville Ryrie.

22 Commonwealth Minister for Defence.

23 T. J. Morris.

24 Sir Esme Howard.

25 Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard.

26 Air Officer Commanding Iraq Command.