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

Cablegram 90A LONDON, 26 June 1942


My telegram No. 88A. [1] There is some further background that I
feel I should give you personally. While what Evatt [2] obtained
while he was here was most valuable we have to recognise there is
a certain undercurrent of resentment against the special
consideration shown to Australia and a feeling in some quarters
that Australia is entirely selfish and out to get what she can for
herself irrespective of the common interest and the wide
strategical necessities of the war.

However unfounded these views may be we have to take them into
account as our needs will be continuous and in the wide
prosecution of the war to victory it is essential that the sound
possibilities of offensive action based on Australia in the future
should not be prejudiced by resentments felt against us and
suspicions of our motives.

For example the munitions assignments obtained by Evatt from
Lyttelton [3] have been the subject of violent protests by South
Africa and New Zealand and when the arrangement came before the
London Munitions Assignments Board for endorsement the American
representatives asked that it should be recorded that they had not
been consulted about the matter.

Further I have recently most confidentially and privately learnt
that Smuts [4] has several times expressed the view that Australia
is over-playing her hand in her special demands for consideration
and since the Prime Minister [5] has been in Washington has sent a
telegram to him and the President [6] expressing this view. This
is of importance because undoubtedly Smuts carries greater weight
with the Prime Minister and the President than anyone else. Our
case, however, is basically so strong that I am not unduly alarmed
by any of the above but it was because of my knowledge of the
atmosphere that exists that I suggested at the end of my telegram
No. 86A [7] that probably we had better acquiesce in the request
with regard to the postponement of the delivery of the Spitfires.

It is also because of it that I have in my official cablegram to
you so strongly emphasised the necessity of Australia's
representative in the War Cabinet not coming to be regarded as a
mere advocate for Australia's demands. I am also particularly
anxious that our Representative should not be so regarded because
even during the short time I have been in the War Cabinet I have
felt that Australia's representative can play a most useful part
in the higher direction of the war.


1 Document 531.

2 Minister for External Affairs.

3 U.K. Minister of Production.

4 South African Prime Minister.

5 Winston Churchill.

6 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

7 Document 529.

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