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Historical documents

388 Embassy in Moscow to Burton

Cablegram 317, MOSCOW, 28 September 1948, 8.20 p.m.


1. Harrison[1] has been instructed by London to discuss with heads of British Commonwealth Missions (not including India) instructions for war emergency which British Embassy has now received.

2. These instructions provide for action, if required, in marked stages as follows.

Stage (1):

Compilation of priority schedules for destruction of documents and precautionary and preliminary arrangements for mechanics of burning.

Stage (2):

Warning to locally based nationals (excluding Embassy personnel whether diplomatic or not) to leave the country immediately and destruction of less important documents to reduce excess weight.

Stage (3):

Destruction of cyphers, codes and[2] priority and remaining documents in that order; hand over of property to provisional protecting power and request for repatriation of Embassy personnel on reciprocal basis.

3. Stages (2) and (3) follow receipt of code words sent in clear, stage (2) indicating formal strained relations and stage (3) immediately preceding or following declaration or opening of hostilities as circumstances permit or determine. Stage (1) on which British Embassy is now acting is preliminary and precautionary and can be prolonged for an indefinite period of time.

4. In the event of an emergency the Australian Government would presumably give constitutional instructions to this Embassy but in the meantime as a security measure I propose to co-ordinate arrangements with British and other Commonwealth Missions and am accordingly compiling priority list of documents and going into the question of actual facilities for burning should the necessity arise. Latter constitutes problem in this particular Embassy.

5. Above is for information.

[1] G.W. Harrison, Minister (acting), UK Embassy in Moscow.

[2] A sign in the text here indicates 'as received'.

[AA : A1838, TS69/1/3/5]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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