26th April, 1928


My dear P.M.,

I send by this mail copy of the C.I.D. Paper, 'Principles of Imperial Defence' [1], with my comments. As I have said in my covering letter the main criticism that can be made of this paper is that, whilst providing a useful conspectus of the position, it avoids the real problem of stating how the fighting forces of the several parts of the Empire can, or should, be coordinated and directed in time of war. No centralised, or even decentralised, form of control by a war cabinet or other means is suggested or discussed.

It also brings out, indirectly, the difficulty under which the Chiefs of Staff labour by reason of the Dominions reserving the right to decide to what extent they will participate with armed forces in any future war.

However, this is a matter of high policy which may come up at the next Imperial Conference.

The Dominions Office have closely watched this document taking form over the last eight months in case some wording should creep in that would offend the susceptibilities of the Dominions.

Canada, in particular, has been very touchy about the whole thing.

I am told that Mackenzie King [2], in the course of reading through an early draft of this paper that had been submitted to him by one of the Canadian service representatives in London, discovered that there was someone in London who was known as the 'Chief of the Imperial General Staff'. That such an offensive title should exist in these enlightened days, even if admittedly a relic of a past age, angered him greatly. He was not appeased when told that it was no doubt an abbreviation of 'Chief of the British Section of the Imperial General Staff'. I expect he will move to have this obnoxious evidence of Dominion thraldom swept away at the next Imperial Conference. Surely no one man can claim credit for having done so much as Mackenzie King to damage what remains in these autonomous days of the fabric of the British Empire. His efforts to make political capital out of his domestic nationalism are analogous to a vandal who pulls down a castle in order to build a cottage.

Sir Hugh Trenchard [3], as you may know, wants to have it established and recognised that the bombing of civilian populations is a legitimate activity of the Air Arm. He wanted to get this principle enshrined in the 'Principles of Imperial Defence' but was curbed in his bloodthirsty endeavours by the other two Chiefs of Staff.

With regard to Sir John Salmond's mission to Australia [4]-I hear confidentially that he wishes to go alone and does not want any British air officer of any seniority to accompany him. This accounts for the fact that the suggestion for Group Captain Freeman [5] to accompany him did not mature. Apart from his probable desire to plough a lone furrow, I gather that he suspects that Trenchard was trying to foist Freeman on him. Trenchard and John Salmond do not see completely eye to eye, and as Freeman has been very closely associated with Trenchard, this may account for Salmond's lack of enthusiasm.

I still think that the mission would have been strengthened by Freeman's presence, but as Salmond is apparently very keen to do the job by himself, it would be no use pushing the matter of Freeman.

Hankey had a conversation recently with Sir Alfred Mond [6] with regard to the latter's proposals for developing on a commercial scale the extraction of fuel oil and petrol from coal. Mond said that there were now no technical difficulties in the commercial exploitation of this process. The only doubt is as to whether it will be a paying business at the present low price of petrol. When Mond started to consider the business, petrol was approximately 1s.6d. a gallon; it is now 1s.0d. Mond is trying to get a bonus out of the Government in order, as he says, to encourage him to start the process on a commercial scale, so that there will be in the country existing factories and trained personnel, both of which could be enlarged in time of war.

Mond says that he is in touch with Australia with regard to the extraction of liquid fuels from brown coal and that he ultimately contemplates units in South Africa, India and Australia, as well as in Great Britain-all of which would be capable of war-time expansion with the object of making these countries less dependent on imported fuels in time of war.

Lord Haig [7] has left behind him a personal diary of the war, copy of which has been deposited in the British Museum with instructions that it is not to be published until, I think, forty years after the end of the war. The Historical Section in this office have a copy, which the King, Hankey, Lord Esher [8], and one or two others have seen. All those who have seen it agree that it would be inadvisable ever to publish it, and Hankey hopes that steps will be taken to effect this. Hankey tells me that it would damage Haig's reputation and could do no possible good. It is very partisan, very antiFrench, and reads more like an apologia than a serious objective account.

Hankey tells me that Hogg [9], the new Lord Chancellor, is keen to rejuvenate and improve the judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I quoted Amery [10] to you in a personal letter of a few weeks ago as having spoken to me on the same subject. [11] Hankey says that Hogg also talks of combining the judicial functions of the House of Lords with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Balfour [12] is against this as he thinks there is merit in having the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as a separate institution to deal with appeals from the Dominions. If its functions were merged in those of the House of Lords, it would, he thinks, lose its position of being independent of any purely English and local institution like the House of Lords. He thinks there is merit in the Judicial Committee being located geographically in its own building and entirely apart and distinct from any branch of the British legislature.

Hankey says that he is afraid that Balfour will not do very much more active work. His recent illness has weakened him considerably, and although it is improbable that he will agree to resign from the Cabinet, the future part that he will play will be a much reduced one.

The Briand-Kellogg proposals for the outlawry of war [13] rather naturally do not provoke much sympathy from Hankey. However, he has not yet made up his mind about it although he tends to regard the proposals with a cold eye.

Poliakoff [14] came to see me lately. He tells me that Houghton, the American Ambassador, recently said to him in so many words: 'I have just delivered to the Foreign Office our proposals for a universal pact to eliminate war. They are expressed in terms which H.M.G. cannot avoid considering seriously. The Dominions-Australia and New Zealand in particular-must now see that we have more to offer them in the Pacific and in the way of world peace generally than Chamberlain has with his Locarnos.' [15] If this is strictly true, it is rather interesting.

I sat next to one of the Secretaries of the American Embassy at lunch lately. He asked the routine question: 'When is Australia going to establish a Legation at Washington?'-and backed it up by the usual statements of the great success of the Canadian and Irish Legations.

The Foreign Office are progressing well with the records of the 'leading personalities' in all countries, for which activity I am told my repeated requests were responsible. During my first year in London, I was constantly confronted with the necessity of knowing something about people referred to in despatches, and I as constantly asked the Foreign Office for information. The idea that I suggested to them took root, of getting H.M. diplomatic posts abroad to make regular 'returns' of short biographies of leading personalities. This is now a regular practice and you have on your files at Canberra the gist of the life story of most people of prominence whose activities are in any way political.

On his request I went to see Sir Hugo Hirst [16] this week. He wanted to talk about the 'Big Four' mission. [17] He thinks a great deal of Sir Ernest Clark. [18] I had heard previously from another source (and confirmed it with Hirst himself) that when it was first suggested that he (Hirst) should go, he said he would only do so on condition that Clark went too, and said further that, as Clark was not a rich man, he (Hirst) would be prepared personally to pay his salary and expenses while he was away. This did not turn out to be necessary as Lord Ashfield's Companies are, I believe, continuing his salary while he is away-but it shows what Hirst thinks of him.

Hirst is writing you a personal letter by an early mail, generally with regard to the mission.

Lord Beaverbrook [19] has started his political war reminiscences in serial form in the 'Evening Standard', with a great display of publicity-but it has all, I think, left people rather cold. The politics of the war period are over and done with. It reads as a not very inspiring story and it doesn't become any more palatable in the re-telling. I haven't read all the instalments, but it seems to be made the vehicle for a good many sly digs.

I attach copy of a letter that I have written to Henderson [20] by this mail, with a proposal that you should allot 100 a year to this office for the purpose of having articles compiled by selected people on foreign affairs for distribution to the press, etc. in Australia. I think the idea is a good one and I hope you will agree to my going ahead with it.

I enclose cuttings from recent issues of the 'Times' suggesting that the provision of aerodrome sites should be taken into account in town planning. This has a direct application to Australia.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Guided by Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence as well as to the Cabinet, the Committee's Overseas Defence Sub-Committee produced a paper entitled 'Some General Principles of Imperial Defence'. It added little to what had been discussed at the 1926 Imperial Conference but it did spell out in detail the organisation and functions of the C.I.D.

and its sub-committees. See Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, Vol. II 1919-1931, Collins, London, 1972, p. 45.

2 William Mackenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister.

3 Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Hugh Trenchard, Chief of the Air Staff.

4 See note 1 to Letter 112.

5 See Letter 119.

6 Chairman of several large firms, including Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. See also note 10 to Letter 92.

7 Field Marshal Lord Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders 1915-19.

8 A permanent member of the Committee of Imperial Defence.

9 Formerly Douglas Hogg, from 5 April 1928 Lord Hailsham.

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

11 See Letter 116.

12 Lord Balfour, Lord President of the Council since 1925; Prime Minister 1902-05.

13 These proposals, put forward by Aristide Briand, French Foreign Minister, and Frank Kellogg, U.S. Secretary of State, finally took concrete shape in the International Treaty for the Renunciation of War (also known as the Pact of Paris and the Kellogg-Briand Pact) of 27 August 1928 signed by sixty-three nations, including Australia. See also note 35 to Letter 93.

14 Vladimir Poliakoff; see Letter 51.

15 See note 24 to Letter 36.

16 Chairman and Managing Director of the General Electric Co. Ltd.

17 See note 22 to Letter 85.

18 A full-time director of the Underground Railways of London and a business associate of Lord Ashfield (primarily known for his association with many British and American railway enterprises, and also a director of the Midland Bank Ltd and of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd), Clark had been Assistant Secretary, Inland Revenue, in 1919, Assistant Under-Secretary, Ireland, 1920- 21 and finally Permanent Secretary of the Treasury of Northern Ireland. Later he was Governor of Tasmania 1933-45.

19 Lord Beaverbrook, Politicians and the War, T. Butterworth, London, 1928.

20 Dr Walter Henderson, Head of the External Affairs Branch.