195 Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 293 LONDON, 1 May 1940, 12.14 p.m.

IMMEDIATE

Broadcast to Italy. [1] 'Times' of 1st May publishes on the main page report from correspondent at Rome 30th April.

(Begins) Mr. Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister, has not found in Italy a favourable reply to his broadcast speech. He is blamed for defining as a neutral an Italy who is not to be considered as standing outside the war; who after eighteen years of Fascism and three victorious wars does not like to hear herself referred to as the peaceful heir to the warlike Rome of old and as devoted solely to the arts; and who is determined to defend her own interests and in particular to [sic] the struggle for her freedom in the Mediterranean. (Ends).

Following is from the 'Daily Sketch'.

(Begins) 'Italy is not neutral; she has her interests to defend and does not consider herself outside this conflict of nations'.

This statement is made in the 'Giornale d'Italia' quoted by Reuters, the only paper to print friendly references to Italy by Mr. Menzies, the Australian Prime Minister. 'Italy is prepared to fight by all means in her power for her liberty, the freedom of the Mediterranean', it added. (Ends).

Following is from the 'Daily Express'.

(Begins) The 'Giornale d'Italia', Italy's number one newspaper, today answers a speech made by Australian Premier Menzies yesterday by saying: 'Italy is prepared to fight with every ounce of her power for her liberty, for the freedom of the Mediterranean.' Mr. Menzies opening a news in Italian service by the Sydney radio appealed to the Italians for their sympathy for the democracies' struggle for freedom and civilization. He referred to Italy's 'neutrality'. 'But', says the 'Giornale d'Italia', 'Italy is not neutral. Allied with Germany she has her vital interests to defend. And she is rebuilt and reorganized in such a way as to be able to defend them victoriously.' (Ends).

The B.B.C. in news broadcast this morning referred to the Italian press reactions.

The German Transocean broadcast also includes long summary of 'Giornale d'Italia' statement which it says '[vehemently] [2] criticized the speech of the Australian Premier Menzies.' [3]

STIRLING

1 See Document 183.

2 This word has been inserted from the London file copy on AA:

A2937, Italy, vi.

3 For further reports of Italian reactions to Menzies's broadcast see Stirling's cablegram 300 of 3 May 1940 and his memorandum H692 of 7 May 1940 on file AA: A981, Italy 60B.

[AA: A1608, H41/1/4, ii]