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310 Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered 28 October 1938,


There have been recent confidential exchanges between Chief of
Naval Staff [1] and Fourth Sea Lord [2] regarding capital ship for
Royal Australian Navy, and Government will be glad if you will
fully explore possibilities with Admiralty and submit a review as
early as possible.

If new ship were to be obtained, it would not be available until
1943. It is considered, however, that the case for justification
to Australian people depends on early presence of vessel in these
waters. You might therefore ascertain position in regard to
delivery of ship already constructed.

If the Admiralty are unwilling to lose control of an existing
ship, discuss possibility of one being based on Singapore and
spending large part of year in Australian waters. If this
arrangement is possible, ascertain what quid pro quo would be
expected of Australian Government. The best form this could take
would be some local effort such as provision of dock and increased
strength which would be a contribution to Empire and Australian
naval security. [3]


1 Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, British naval officer; First Naval
Member, Commonwealth Naval Board and Chief of (Australian) Naval
Staff, 1937-41.

2 Rear Admiral G. S. Arbuthnot, Fourth Sea Lord 1937-41.

3 On the same day Lyons sent a further cablegram to Bruce saying
that he 'would appreciate a reply by Monday [31 October] if
possible'. On 29 October Bruce replied that he was 'in touch with
the Admiralty but owing to the First Lord [Lord Stanhope] having
only just assumed office will not be able to send a reply before
Monday' (See AA : A1608, N51/1/6).

[AA : A1068, N51/1/6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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