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93 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 708 [1] CANBERRA, 30 October 1941


Commonwealth War Cabinet has carefully Considered Circular M.341.

[2] Its views are in brief that the disadvantages set out in
paragraphs 4 to 7 do not to our mind offset the possible effect of
refusal on Russia and Russian morale. Further, the reasoning of
telegram M.341 seems to us unconvincing and could not be justified
publicly. These views as to Russian position are naturally
influenced by the latest information as to the Russian military

2. In short, the Government is of the opinion, and it is supported
by representatives of all Parties in Advisory War Council [3],
that a refusal to accede to request of Russia to declare war on
Finland, Roumania and Hungary may well be disastrous to Russian
morale and be dangerous to our own.

3. Subject to any pronounced American reaction, our view is that
all the considerations should be put frankly to Stalin who is a
realist and our decision governed by his attitude. [4]


1 Repeated to the N.Z., Canadian and South African Prime Ministers
on 3 November as nos 449, 12 and 83 (see file AA : A1608,

2 Document 92. On 28 October S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the
United Kingdom, advised Curtin that M341 was 'extremely flabby',
because the U.K. Govt, while realising that it was imperative not
to discourage the U.S.S.R., had an instinctive distaste for
agreeing to the Russian request. Bruce, who himself supported a
declaration of war, believed that the U.K. Govt was awaiting
American and Dominion views which might show a way out of the
difficulty. See cablegram 81 on file AA : A981, War 44. Paragraph
3 of Curtin's cablegram repeats Bruce's own view.

3 See War Cabinet minute 1457 of 30 October and Advisory War
Council minute 553 of 30 October in AA : A2673, vol. 9 and AA :

A2682, vol. 3 respectively.

4 Cranborne reported on 3 November (circular cablegram M346) that
the U.S. Govt did not have strong views either for or against the
declaration, but on balance appeared to oppose it. The U.K. Govt
then referred the matter to Stalin (circular cablegram M352 of 6
November), who replied that he still attached great importance to
it (circular cablegram M371 of 21 November, incorrectly numbered
M373). On 26 November Cranborne advised Curtin that the U.K. Govt
proposed to warn the Finnish Govt that war would be declared
unless the latter ceased hostilities against the U.S.S.R. by 3
December (circular cablegrams M390 and M391). The Commonwealth
Govt agreed to this proposal on 27 November (cablegram 755). The
U.K. Govt subsequently dispatched a similar warning to the
Hungarian and Rumanian Govts (circular cablegram M399 of 28
November). All cablegrams are on file AA : A981, War 44, except
cablegram M390, which is on file AA : A1608, 0.41/1/2.

[AA : A981, WAR 44]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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