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437 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram EP1 WASHINGTON, 23 March 1942

For Prime Minister only.

I have seen published suggestion by the Murdoch press to the
effect that Menzies should be appointed Minister here. [1] At
present time appointment of any successor to Casey would be
calculated to subtract from authority and prejudice success of
mission. As you have emphasised so often it is most desirable that
there should be a Minister of the Crown on this spot and although
it may be possible to have an envoy appointed later there are
special reasons against it at the present time. I am assured in
highest quarters that Menzies has no particular influence in this
country and that relations I have already established with the
President [2] and his special advisers are very close and, I
believe, unique for an Australian.

2. I have been shown by Casey telegrams between yourself and
Churchill [3]; Churchill has asked Casey to send copies of
telegrams between yourself and Casey, and he has done so.

3. I am confirmed in view that publication of White Paper [4] and
any further public comment are undesirable in public interest.

Churchill's suggesting Menzies was most gratuitous and no doubt
caused by a desire to cause political embarrassment. If
publication is to take place text should not, I think, be

4. If you favour the suggestion I made to you about Washington you
might announce that for the time being I shall discharge the
duties of envoy which also all appertain to my Department. No
formal appointment need or should be made. [5]

5. Casey has been helpful in relation to contacts here and he is
preparing to leave in a very short time. [6]

6. Please discuss this with Forde, Beasley and Makin. [7]

7. I am sorry at this critical time you should have had another
Churchill bother: it may be desirable for you to explain the
problem to Wilson and Coles. [8]

Best wishes.


1 On 24 March 1942 the Melbourne Sun News Pictorial, in an
editorial on the selection of a successor to R. G. Casey as
Minister to the United States, stated that 'there will belittle
doubt in the minds of most Australians that the outstanding man
for the position is Mr. R. G. Menzies'. Menzies, who had been
Prime Minister 1939-41, was then United Australia Party M.H.R. for
Kooyong and a member of the Advisory War Council.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 Churchill sent Casey a copy of these cablegrams. See unnumbered
and undated cablegram in PRO:DO 35/1009, ii.

4 See Document 431, note 6.

5 Evatt assumed the duties of Minister to the United States from 1
April until his departure for London on 1 May. A. S. Watt then
acted as Charge d'Affaires until Sir Owen Dixon presented his
credentials as Minister on 10 June.

6 Casey resigned on 31 March and left Washington the following day
to take up duty as U.K. Minister of State resident in the Middle

7 Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Army, Minister for
Supply and Development and Minister for the Navy respectively.

8 Independent Country Party M.H.R. for Wimmera and Independent
M.H.R. for Henry respectively. The Curtin Govt required their
support to maintain its majority in the House of Representatives.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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