312 Commonwealth Government to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister (in London)

Cablegram 73 21 February 1941,

SECRET

Your telegram of 14th February, Far East and Thailand. [1] We have had whole question under close examination during last fortnight [2] and are communicating to you, Latham [3] and Casey [4], our considered views. [5] As you are now aware, Casey and Halifax [6] have been in close consultation with the President [7] and Secretary of State [8] on this question.

We hardly think suggestion that Latham be accredited to Thailand is practicable at present time owing to difficulties of communication, belief that Latham should be closely associated with Craigie [9] and Grew [10] during this critical period and fact that dual representation has never been regarded as any compliment by nations concerned.

1 Document 297.

2 See AA:A2671, 71/1941 and 77/1941 with Supplement no. 1.

3 Minister to Japan.

4 Minister to the United States.

5 No such communications were in fact dispatched. On 18 February War Cabinet decided that no reply other than an acknowledgment should be sent to Latham's cablegram on Thailand (see Document 272, note 7), but on 20 February the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Frederick Stewart) forwarded a draft of cablegram 73 to the Acting Prime Minister (A. W. Fadden) with the comment: 'In regard to the first paragraph of the above suggested telegram, I understand that the draft telegram I submitted on Thailand to the War Cabinet in Sydney last week is still under consideration, due to the desire that the Chiefs of Staff should comment on certain aspects of it. I would suggest that this or amended telegram be despatched immediately, as otherwise its whole point will be missed. In meantime, Latham Casey and the Prime Minister also no doubt, are still awaiting the expression of our views.' See file AA:A1608, A41/1/6, v.

The matter became further confused on 22 February when Fadden sent Stewart a telegram reading 'Your letter twentieth. Suggest send telegrams as recommended', which conveyed the impression that the cablegram to Latham should also be dispatched. After a further exchange of teleprinter messages between the External Affairs, Prime Minister's and Defence Depts the matter was resolved on 28 February when Fadden decided that in accordance with War Cabinet Minute 832 of 18 February an acknowledgment only should be sent to Latham. See files AA:A981, Japan 174, ii; AA:A981, Japan 185B, i;

AA:A1608, A41/1/6, v.

6 U.K. Ambassador to the United States.

7 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

8 Cordell Hull.

9 U.K. Ambassador to Japan.

10 U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

[AA:A981, JAPAN 185B, i]