Skip to main content

Historical documents

455 Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom

Letter LONDON, 3 April 1942


My dear Bruce,
Thank you for letting me see your telegram [1], and for your help
in these matters. I must however point out that in your Sub-
section (2) you use the expression 'if Australia is in deadly
peril' [2], whereas what I said and mean is 'if Australia is being
heavily invaded'. And again, in Sub-section (4) you use the
expression 'a major threat to Australia'. [3] I have never said
anything about diverting troops to meet threats. We cannot do so
while they are most urgently needed on fronts where heavy fighting
is proceeding.

Please also see the words of my pledge of August 11, 1940, where
the expression is 'If .... Japan set about invading Australia or
New Zealand on a large scale'. [4] It is very important there
should be no misunderstanding about this, as Dr. Evatt from his
telegrams clearly holds that Australia is 'in deadly peril' and
that 'a major threat' has developed. [5]


1 Cablegram E7 of 1 April to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External
Affairs. See Document 449, note 9.

2 Subsection 2 reported Churchill's pledge 'that help will be sent
at whatever cost and whatever sacrifice if Australia is in deadly

3 Subsection 4 reported 'that if ... a major threat to Australia
develops he [Churchill] will divert at Capetown reinforcements and
supplies whether designed for Middle East, India or Burma
including the armoured division now on the sea'.

4 See Document 454, paragraph 2.

5 See Document 438 and Document 449, note 1.

[AA:M100, APRIL 1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top