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

Cablegram unnumbered 1 June 1940,

MOST SECRET

Your 368. [1] Statement by McEwen was of stimulating character and well received. On point in question he said 'I am able to inform Honourable Members that a considerable proportion of the British Expeditionary Force has already embarked successfully'. Have discussed this matter with McEwen. His statement was made because three hours earlier Australian Broadcasting Commission, purporting to repeat B.B.C. news and cables from London, had made following announcement- 'The Anglo-French Army in the north is now fighting its way back towards Dunkirk with its rearguard counter attacking to hold off the German advances. At Dunkirk itself the Allied Navies are assisting the withdrawal of the troops.' In view of this publication and also of French Communique McEwen concluded that only secrecy obtaining was in regard to exact numbers. Curiously enough this morning's newspaper cables state quite openly the circumstances of the evacuation and indicate that about one-half of the B.E.F. has so far returned to England. If Minister not able to inform House of facts which British censorship allows to be cabled freely, his position becomes difficult. However, the danger of publishing facts not otherwise obtainable authentically is fully appreciated and precautions will be redoubled. But I do emphasise that we get into a false position if we blandly deny knowledge of facts which are being announced over every wireless station and published in the press.

MENZIES

1 Document 315.

[FA: A3196, 0.3419]