93 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 708 [1] CANBERRA, 30 October 1941

MOST SECRET IMMEDIATE

Commonwealth War Cabinet has carefully Considered Circular M.341.

[2] Its views are in brief that the disadvantages set out in paragraphs 4 to 7 do not to our mind offset the possible effect of refusal on Russia and Russian morale. Further, the reasoning of telegram M.341 seems to us unconvincing and could not be justified publicly. These views as to Russian position are naturally influenced by the latest information as to the Russian military situation.

2. In short, the Government is of the opinion, and it is supported by representatives of all Parties in Advisory War Council [3], that a refusal to accede to request of Russia to declare war on Finland, Roumania and Hungary may well be disastrous to Russian morale and be dangerous to our own.

3. Subject to any pronounced American reaction, our view is that all the considerations should be put frankly to Stalin who is a realist and our decision governed by his attitude. [4]

CURTIN

1 Repeated to the N.Z., Canadian and South African Prime Ministers on 3 November as nos 449, 12 and 83 (see file AA : A1608, 0.41/1/2).

2 Document 92. On 28 October S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, advised Curtin that M341 was 'extremely flabby', because the U.K. Govt, while realising that it was imperative not to discourage the U.S.S.R., had an instinctive distaste for agreeing to the Russian request. Bruce, who himself supported a declaration of war, believed that the U.K. Govt was awaiting American and Dominion views which might show a way out of the difficulty. See cablegram 81 on file AA : A981, War 44. Paragraph 3 of Curtin's cablegram repeats Bruce's own view.

3 See War Cabinet minute 1457 of 30 October and Advisory War Council minute 553 of 30 October in AA : A2673, vol. 9 and AA :

A2682, vol. 3 respectively.

4 Cranborne reported on 3 November (circular cablegram M346) that the U.S. Govt did not have strong views either for or against the declaration, but on balance appeared to oppose it. The U.K. Govt then referred the matter to Stalin (circular cablegram M352 of 6 November), who replied that he still attached great importance to it (circular cablegram M371 of 21 November, incorrectly numbered M373). On 26 November Cranborne advised Curtin that the U.K. Govt proposed to warn the Finnish Govt that war would be declared unless the latter ceased hostilities against the U.S.S.R. by 3 December (circular cablegrams M390 and M391). The Commonwealth Govt agreed to this proposal on 27 November (cablegram 755). The U.K. Govt subsequently dispatched a similar warning to the Hungarian and Rumanian Govts (circular cablegram M399 of 28 November). All cablegrams are on file AA : A981, War 44, except cablegram M390, which is on file AA : A1608, 0.41/1/2.

[AA : A981, WAR 44]