115 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 100 LONDON, 17 November 1941, 8.02 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Your telegram 6960. [1] I have seen Foreign Office and suggested that they should telegraph immediately to Cripps [2] so that I would have his views before I saw Maisky. [3] Reply now received to the following effect:

(Begins):

'Cripps says that he feels strong misgivings about the proposal.

He points out that the Soviet Government and essential organisations, also diplomatic corps, are desperately overcrowded at Kuibyshev and in the nearby [Volga] [4] towns, and there is a shortage of almost all but the barest necessities of life.

'Visit of a foreign delegation except for some clearly defined practical purpose could hardly be welcome to Soviet Authorities who would feel bound to demonstrate and entertain it as generously as possible. He considers that it would not be fair to impose problems of housing and feeding at this difficult moment. He adds that he is sure privately that their attitude would be that expressions of admiration for Russian resistance [especially] when they take the form of[delegations] are a poor substitute for practical forms of assistance.

He points out too that travelling is extremely difficult and entirely depends on not always willing or competent co-operation of Soviet Authorities so that the delegation could expect to see but little of Russia in general and nothing whatever of Moscow or the regions near the front.

For these reasons, Cripps says he hopes that the proposal will not be made to the Soviet Ambassador who, like his Government, would find it embarrassing to turn it down.' Ends.

While Cripps suggests approach to Maisky would embarrass him, I could I think, if you so desired, have an informal talk down lines that would not embarrass him and get his views on the proposal.

BRUCE

1 See Document 96, note 8.

2 U.K. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R.

3 U.S.S.R. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

4 Words in square brackets have been corrected from the London copy on file AA : A2937, U.S.S.R., V.

[AA : A981, SOVIET RUSSIA 44]