455 Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom

Letter LONDON, 3 April 1942


My dear Bruce, Thank you for letting me see your telegram [1], and for your help in these matters. I must however point out that in your Sub- section (2) you use the expression 'if Australia is in deadly peril' [2], whereas what I said and mean is 'if Australia is being heavily invaded'. And again, in Sub-section (4) you use the expression 'a major threat to Australia'. [3] I have never said anything about diverting troops to meet threats. We cannot do so while they are most urgently needed on fronts where heavy fighting is proceeding.

Please also see the words of my pledge of August 11, 1940, where the expression is 'If .... Japan set about invading Australia or New Zealand on a large scale'. [4] It is very important there should be no misunderstanding about this, as Dr. Evatt from his telegrams clearly holds that Australia is 'in deadly peril' and that 'a major threat' has developed. [5]


1 Cablegram E7 of 1 April to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs. See Document 449, note 9.

2 Subsection 2 reported Churchill's pledge 'that help will be sent at whatever cost and whatever sacrifice if Australia is in deadly peril'.

3 Subsection 4 reported 'that if ... a major threat to Australia develops he [Churchill] will divert at Capetown reinforcements and supplies whether designed for Middle East, India or Burma including the armoured division now on the sea'.

4 See Document 454, paragraph 2.

5 See Document 438 and Document 449, note 1.

[AA:M100, APRIL 1942]