255 Curtin to Cranborne

Cablegram 208 CANBERRA, 13 August 1943


For immediate repetition to Mr. Churchill. [1]

With reference to my cablegram No. 190 of 24th July and your 188 in reply [2], and to previous messages which passed between us on this subject [3], the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Fadden) referred in a public address on 12th August to discussions which took place at a meeting of the Advisory War Council in September, 1941 [4], following the receipt of your cablegram No. 608 of 31st August 1941 [5], regarding the proposal to place a force of capital ships in the triangle Aden-Singapore-Simonstown before the end of 1941.

2. Mr. Fadden is reported to have said that, in September 1941, I had stated that, in view of the advice received from the Dominions Office, consideration might be given to a reduction in the number of military forces called up for duty and a reduction in the period of training which others were required to undergo. Mr.

Fadden went on to say that, if I denied the recommendation about the militia, he would prove it.

3. I feel obliged to make a statement in reply to Mr. Fadden and it will be necessary for me briefly to refer to one passage of cablegram No. 608. I personally very much regret that I have been forced into this step by the breach by Mr. Fadden of the understanding we had reached in deference to your request.

4. I propose, unless you prefer that no statement be made, to issue the following to the press but will not release it until I have heard from you. The statement which I propose to make is contained in my immediately following telegram. [6]

1 Then attending the Quebec Conference.

2 In cablegram 190 (in FA:A3196, 1943, folder, outwards Most Secret master sheets, 0.20161) Curtin had advised Churchill that he had 'addressed a letter to all non-Government members of the Advisory War Council, requesting their personal co-operation in ensuring that actual cablegrams should not be publicly quoted or referred to in any way, in view of the important security aspect involved'. Churchill acknowledged this in cablegram 188 of 25 July (in FA:A3195, 1943, box, Most Secret inwards master sheets from Secdo, 1.31056).

3 See Documents 245-6, Churchill's cablegrams 180 of 21 July and 185 of 23 July (both in FA:A3195, 1943, box, Most Secret inwards master sheets from Secdo, 1.30276, 1.30637), and Curtin's cablegram 188 of 22 July (in FA:A3196, 1943, folder, outwards Most Secret master sheets, 0.19899).

4 See Advisory War Council minute 514 of 19 September in AA:A2682, vol. 3.

5 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. V, Document 54.

6 Document 256.