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364 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 33A LONDON, 23 February 1942


Have just seen copy of telegram the Prime Minister [1] has sent to
you this afternoon. [2] While Page [3] is dealing with it
officially, and will no doubt have much to say to the Prime
Minister with regard to it, I feel I must send you privately my
reactions; [I] am appalled by it and its possible repercussions.

It is arrogant and offensive and contradicts the assurances given
to Page that the Convoy was not being diverted from its direct
route to Australia. Any reaction on your part would be justified.

None the less I urge restraint in your reply. I hold no brief for
the Prime Minister and feel strongly that had he not effected the
recent alterations in the structure of the War Cabinet it would
have been essential that he should go and that quickly.

Nevertheless I feel that the alterations having been effected, the
best instrument we have to our hand having been created and being
at a desperate and possibly the determining point of the war, a
crisis in the relations between Australia and the United Kingdom
arising out of the action of one man must be avoided.

To check my view I have just seen Cripps [4] and fully discussed
the matter with him. He also urges restraint in your reply. He
stressed the fact that at the moment the Prime Minister is so near
the end of his tether owing to the strain of the war situation-the
work involved in the Cabinet reconstruction and preparation for
Tuesday's critical debate-that allowance must be made for the tone
of his telegram.

He also urged that just when by the creation of the new Cabinet
there was a chance of getting on to a direct co-operative working
basis it was essential to avoid a first class row.

Reinforced with Cripps' view I urge that despite the provocation
you should maintain in your reply the admirable tone and reasoned
argument of your recent cables on the subject of the Burma


1 Winston Churchill.

2 Document 362.

3 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

4 U.K. Lord Privy Seal.

[AA:M100, FEBRUARY 1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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