241 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London

Cablegram unnumbered 15 May 1940,

SECRET

War information. Would be glad if you would take up with United Kingdom authorities the general question of release here of war information. Under present conditions Government is caused frequent embarrassment by inability to confirm or deny from information available to it reports received from London by press or radio. This applies even to official statements of United Kingdom Government of which at times only knowledge Government can claim in response to questions in House is from unofficial sources.

One aspect of this question was dealt with in External Affairs telegram No. 92 of 29th November [1], last, to Stirling [2], to which United Kingdom Departments returned negative reply. Another aspect has been illustrated by experience with Chamberlain's statement on 2nd May on Norway. [3] In this case not only was official text of statement received considerable time after radio reports which compelled Government to rely in statement to House here [4] on more or less garbled summary, but we noted also with a good deal of surprise that the statement as made disclosed for the first time several facts of importance which had not been even secretly communicated beforehand to Commonwealth Government.

Again today B.B.C. announced at Li a.m. our time that Dutch army capitulated. Twelve hours later we are still without any official advice.

I feel that there is possibly not proper appreciation in London of our difficulties here in these respects, and that without detriment to secrecy or to any of the other considerations set out in Stirling's telegram No. 708 of 7th December last [5], something could be done to meet our requirements. These may be briefly recapitulated as- (1) the possession in advance of important information which is likely sooner or later to be given release in London; and (2) definite advice where possible of United Kingdom Government's intention to give such release with intimation of approximate time and form in order that we may be in a position to make similar announcement here without being at the disadvantage of learning first of release through unofficial sources.

Also suggest that some news could, where of public notoriety in Europe, be sent en clair.

1 Not found.

2 External Affairs Officer in London.

3 See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol.

360, cols 906-13.

4 See Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 163, pp. 527-8.

5 Not found.

[AA: A981, AUSTRALIA 59B, iii]