24th May, 1928


My dear P.M.,

I lunched with Sir John Salmond [1] last week. He is a man of considerable personality and character, and should, I think, do the job very well indeed. He is rather of the strong, silent man type. Although he will naturally push the Air side, he is not one of those who think that all other arms are out of date.

I have it from other sources that he and Trenchard [2] are in very distinct and sharp rivalry. Salmond is Trenchard's natural successor as Chief of the Air Staff-in fact, he thinks that Trenchard has really stolen his thunder for these several years past. But in order to obviate the crystallising of a 'Trenchard School' and a 'Salmond School' amongst air people, I understand that the powers are considering appointing someone like Philip Game [3] as a go-between C.A.S. for a short period, so that the difference in thought and feeling between the two administrations will not be too acute. But if you ask what the differences are between the two schools of thought, you get a vague reply, similar to what one is told when one naively enquires as to the different platform of Republicans and Democrats in America. The difference, of course, is the inevitable rivalry between men of strong enthusiasm and personality-and little more.

Salmond was interested in finding out from me just what you wanted him to do. I told him that I spoke from inference rather than information, but that reading between the lines I gathered that while, from the public and non-controversial point of view, his investigation into the 'organisation, equipment and training of the R.A.A.F.' was to be the main object of his visit, yet I felt that you yourself would be most interested to have his report and advice on the part that the Air should play in the Defence of the Commonwealth. And, further, that whilst his investigation of the state of the R.A.A.F. could be done practically in Melbourne and Sydney, in order to get a proper body-guard for advice on the larger Defence aspect, he would have to travel more widely-even as far afield as Darwin.

I gave him briefly some of the reasons for the postponement of our Coast Defence rejuvenation.

I have given him personal letters of introduction to General Hobbs [4] in Perth, Duncan-Hughes [5] in Adelaide, Niall [6] in Melbourne, Mark Sheldon [7] in Sydney, and James Horsburgh [8] in Darwin. I cabled you suggesting that it be arranged that he stays at Clubs rather than hotels in each capital city from the point of view of comfort, food and privacy from the press and others.

I lunched with Hankey [9] and Admiral Sir Herbert W. Richmond, head of the Imperial Defence College, since meeting Salmond.

Richmond is a very intelligent, well-read sailor, whose opinion is valued by Hankey and all others to whom I have spoken. You may remember that I sent you a copy of a letter (in a personal letter of 8th March [10]) that Richmond wrote Hankey, expressing some perturbation about Salmond's visit. In any event, I enclose you another copy herewith.

During the course of our lunch, the idea developed in conversation of suggesting to you that more balanced advice would probably result if Salmond were accompanied on his tour by senior officers of all three Fighting Services, and if the detailed recommendations contained in the C.I.D. Australian Coast Defence Report were to be discussed at each port. I cabled you to this effect on 22nd May, as I thought you would probably like to have the suggestion considered by your Minister for Defence prior to Salmond's arrival. Salmond might still, in any event, desire to submit his personal report and advice, but the combined considerations of all of them might be an offset to any advice of an extreme 'air' nature that he might be inclined to proffer.

I have, of course, not suggested this to Salmond.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

P. S. I showed Hankey that part of your letter of 14th April which dealt with your views about Australian Coast Defence and he said that he entirely agreed and that you had, in his opinion, sized up the position correctly. [11]

1 Air Marshal Sir John Salmond, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Defence of Great Britain; he visited Australia later in the year at Bruce's request to report on Australian air defence. For his recommendations see note 7 to Letter 161.

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

3 In fact, the position went to Salmond; Air Vice Marshal Sir Philip Game went to New South Wales as Governor 1930-35.

4 Lt Gen Sir Talbot Hobbs, retired.

5 John Duncan-Hughes, Adelaide barrister and M.P.

6 Kenneth Niall, Melbourne company director.

7 Sir Mark Sheldon, Chairman of the Australian Bank of Commerce Ltd; Australian Commissioner in the United States 1919-22.

8 Chairman of the North Australia Commission.

9 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

10 See Letter 112.

11 Bruce reported that the Australian Defence Council had postponed for a year any decision on Australian coastal defence.

Bruce argued that, in view of the quiet international situation, Australia could afford to wait and see whether presently rapid air technology changes would allow the R.A.A.F. an effective role or whether coastal defence should remain in Army and Navy hands. The letter is on file AA:A1420.