225 Sir Geoffrey Whiskard, U.K. High Commissioner in Australia, to Mr A. Eden, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 135 10 May 1940,


In the course of conversation last night Prime Minister [1] sharply criticised the tone both of Parliament and Press in the United Kingdom regarding Norwegian campaign. He said he and his colleagues felt, subject to reservations below, the best had been made by United Kingdom Government of a very difficult situation.

Had we felt free to occupy Norwegian ports in advance of German invasion, we should have scored great immediate advantage; but he was firmly convinced that such an invasion by us of Norwegian neutrality would have been morally wrong [2] and politically ill advised. (Whether we should not now, after this further (monstrous) (flagrant) [3] illegality by Germany, take a more drastic line vis a vis neutrals:- e.g. by destroying if necessary the Swedish iron ore mines subject to compensation-was another question).

His only reservations were (1) ought not our intelligence service to have informed us both of intended invasion and of strength of 'Fifth Column' in Norway in time to enable us to intercept German transports on their long journey to Trondheim, and (2) would it not have been possible and proper to have put a check on early exaggerated optimism which so greatly increased discouraging impact of the news of evacuation? I asked what were his views on allegations in Australian Press that Commonwealth Government was insufficiently informed and consulted by United Kingdom Government and on recent renewed suggestions of an Imperial War Cabinet.

He said, subject to observations at (d) in his telegram No. 208 of the 8th May [4], he had no complaint whatsoever as to information and opportunities for consultation afforded by United Kingdom Government.

Whenever he had felt observations of the Commonwealth Government might be useful, he had had ample opportunity to make them and they had obviously been fully considered. He was, as at present advised, opposed to the idea of an Imperial War Cabinet. To add five Dominion members to the present or to a reconstituted United Kingdom War Cabinet would make it unwieldy and would not in his opinion be helpful. The existing air services made it possible to have brief conferences in London at comparatively short intervals and this he thought was sufficient.

1 R. G. Menzies.

2 The original had a question mark above this word.

3 These words were suggested as the possible meanings of an indecipherable group.

4 Document 215.

[PRO: CAB 21/873]