134 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister

Cablegram Johcu 4 CANBERRA, 29 November 1941, 6.45 p.m.


I have your Most Secret telegram of 28th November WINCH No. 6 [1] and very greatly regret that you have had distress of mind from any attitude taken by this Government. In Australia, we are endeavouring to educate the public to a realisation of, and as a Government to assume, our share of the burden associated with foreign policy. We have many difficulties which I need not detail here but of which you will be aware. We assume that your Government welcomes our independence of thought and advice rather than that we should wait on you for guidance and support. The latter would be most unhelpful to you and would be equally unhealthy from an Australian national viewpoint. Consequently, sometimes it is inevitable that the Commonwealth Government will formulate a policy at variance with yours. You know that often only a narrow distinction may exist between the expression of a policy and criticism of some other view but we will be at great pains to see to it here that no criticism of your policy in respect of the war and foreign affairs is given publicity.

Actually, it would be difficult to construe what Dr. Evatt [2] said with regard to Finland, Hungary and Roumania as criticism of your Government. The reference is as follows:


'It is a strange feature of the present struggle that, while we are Allies of Russia in the fight against Germany, we are still at peace with these three eager satellites and accomplices of Germany'. Ends.

This reference included a recital of the facts and could be made by any one without any suggestion of blame.

I appreciate the dilemma you have been in with regard to these countries particularly Finland. I have noted from your telegram under reply and from telegrams received today from the Secretary of State [3], the present position of the matter and realise that you are doing everything possible to help our cause.

I greatly appreciate your expression of sympathy in the loss of the SYDNEY-it is a heavy blow to us. The sinking of H.M.S. BARHAM is another shock and we feel for you deeply in this loss of life and material. It is all a terrible (? group omitted) but must be borne. I am glad to read your comment that General Auchinleck is hopeful. Naturally, we follow this campaign very carefully and with hope for a happy conclusion.

Finally, may I say that we do not need any concrete demonstration, such as you instance, to make us aware of your comradeship and goodwill towards us. We know that your great work is not only for Great Britain but for all of us and we are doing and will continue to do everything in our power to give you practical assistance.

Kindest regards and I take the opportunity of adding Many Happy Returns of Sunday's anniversary. [4]


1 Document 131.

2 Meister for External Affairs. See his statement to the House of Representatives on 27 November in Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates, vol. 169, pp. 972-8.

3 See Lord Cranberrie's cablegrams M395 and M399 on file AA :

A981, War 44.

4 Churchill celebrated his sixty-seventh birthday on 30 November.

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