Skip to main content

Historical documents

399 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London


To be decyphered by Stirling.

Personal for Bruce [1] alone.

1. I am sure you will do your best to secure speedy adoption of
Australian-New Zealand Anzac plan. We regard it as vital.

2. It appears that the telegram from Dill [2] to Churchill
contained in D.O. telegram 294 [3] originated with Casey. [4] It
is very worrying because we asked Churchill to recommend the plan
to Washington yet we find that an argument which may be used
against the naval portion of the plan has been supplied by our own
Minister. Perhaps the best thing would be for you to explain the
position to Cripps [5] and Attlee. [6] Page [7] suggested the
possibility of a somewhat different scheme [8] but I hope that you
will be able to get Churchill to accede to our scheme and that
Page will give you every support.

3. We were expecting to hear from you on the subject of Russia.

4. Would it be possible to make Churchill feel some sense of
special responsibility towards these two Dominions? The news to-
day that further American forces have arrived in Europe is bound
to have further unfavourable reactions here. On 11th August, 1940,
Churchill gave the following guarantee to Australia and New
Zealand (D.O. 262 [9]). 'A final question arises whether Japan
having declared war would attempt to invade Australia or New
Zealand with a considerable army. We think this very unlikely
because Japan is first absorbed in China, secondly would be
gathering rich prizes in the Dutch East Indies, and thirdly would
fear very much to send an important part of her Fleet far to the
southward leaving American fleet between it and home. If, however,
contrary to prudence and self-interest Japan set about invading
Australia or New Zealand on a large scale I have explicit
authority of Cabinet to assure you that we should then cut our
losses in the Mediterranean and proceed to your aid sacrificing
every interest except only defence position of this island on
which all depends.'
5. Would it be possible I wonder for Churchill to regard this as
an opportunity to achieve a great personal triumph by making a
tremendous demonstration in conformity with his promises?
6. I know his great powers of drive and leadership in a crisis
such as the present. Can he be persuaded that this is the crisis
affecting not only England but the structure of the Empire itself?
7. Best personal wishes to yourself in a very difficult position.

The Prime Minister [10] is fully appreciative. I think he
surmounted the A.I.F. problem splendidly. It looks as though I may
be leaving here shortly on a special mission.

8. This personal message is somewhat discursive but it is
sufficient to allow you to understand my deep anxiety. The spirit
of the people is resolute but they must have the material support
of the United Kingdom without a moment's delay.


1 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

2 Senior U.K. representative on the Joint Staff Mission in

3 See Document 393, note 7.

4 Minister to the United States. See Document 396.

5 U.K. Lord Privy Seal.

6 U.K. Dominions Secretary.

7 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

8 This is probably a reference to Page's cablegram P63 of 7 March
(AA:A3195, 1942, 1.9761), which gave details of the U.K. Chiefs of
Staff's strategic report prepared prior to receipt of the
Commonwealth Govt's proposals (Document 388)
Page also mentioned (Document 393) that the Chiefs of Staff had
been asked to examine the Commonwealth Govt's proposals,
presumably in the light of their own report.

9 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV,
Document 64.

10 John Curtin.

[AA:A981, WAR 41B]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top