25th October, 1928


(Due to arrive Canberra 24.11.28)

My dear P.M.,

Amery [1] is concerned at his inability to think up a few suitable men to act as Governors-General. He has told Batterbee [2] to produce him a short list of possibilities but he is finding some difficulty in even starting a list. If you have any suggestions, they would be welcomed.

Admiral Sir Charles Madden (who took Beatty's place as First Sea Lord at the Admiralty) is spoken of by those who are in close association with him as not being an inspired person.

Whitehall has been crying out for Field [3] to return to the Admiralty and it is an open secret that he will return shortly as First Sea Lord. He was previously Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

But, as he (Field) said to an informant of mine lately, they must let him have a year or two with the Mediterranean Fleet to get himself up to date again on the practical problems of the sea. As he says, he has to learn for himself at first hand the possibilities of the submarine and the air before he can come back with confidence to the Admiralty.

Admiral Sir Roger Keyes is Field's competitor for First Sea Lord.

There is a section of the Navy who thinks that he was the only man who showed the 'Nelson touch' during the War. But he was responsible for bringing the recent disciplinary scandal (Commander Daniel and Captain Dewar) at Malta to the light of day when it might have been hushed up and dealt with as a Service matter without publicity and without bringing the Navy into disrepute. In any event, it is fairly generally recognised that Field is the better man. [4]

I went to the annual Motor Show last week and was rather disappointed with the British cars showing. Apart from the grande luxe cars (Rolls, Lanchester, Daimler, Bentley and, possibly, Sunbeam) in which we lead the world, and excepting Morris and some of the tiny 7 h.p. class-the rest are uninspiring. The average English bodywork of low to medium price is awkward and amateurish.

The bulk of British cars for the masses are getting very 'tinny' looking in their artificial effort to build down to a price without the output that makes low prices possible for the Americans. A couple of hours at the Show sends one away with a feeling that the average brains of those engaged in the motor industry here must be far from first class.

I find that a good test question to anyone in the British motor industry is-'How does the performance-price of such-and-such an English car compare with that of the relevant sized Chrysler?' It is an unfair question, of course (and irritates them intensely!) as no English car can approach the Chrysler performance at anything like the price-and the old-time reply that American cars don't last is no longer applicable.

One would have thought that the English manufacturers would have used the American cars as a stalking horse-learnt from them, picked them to pieces and gone one better, but apart from Morris's strenuous efforts and success, they have apparently learnt very little from the Americans.

The social stir of Whitehall lately has been E.J. Harding's engagement to Miss Huxley. [5] She is one of the well-known family of Huxleys and lives at the intellectual centre of gravity of the world, Boar's Hill near Oxford. She is a young woman of obvious mental attainments. They are to be married in January.

I lunched with Batterbee and Barrington-Ward, the Assistant Editor of the 'Times' today. The lunch was arranged for the purpose of informing the 'Times' confidentially but quite fully of the Antarctic position so that they would be in possession of sufficient facts to enable them to exercise discretion as to what they print. I had personally taken it on myself to go and see them in this regard, and Amery approved of the procedure and inspired this lunch to complete the process.

One hears Barrington-Ward spoken of as the natural Successor to Geoffrey Dawson as Editor. [6] He is a decent, honest fellow, with balance and commonsense, but not, I should say, inspired.

The future of the cinema intrigues me a great deal. As an educational medium and as a means of getting ideas about, its possibilities are practically untouched. My interest in the subject has been whipped up by using an amateur machine for these last six months. The technique of professional production has reached a very high state-one might almost say perfection, but the industry seems to lack ideas either for social recreation films or for educational or propaganda purposes. Other arts progress in the reverse way-ideas worth presentation breed initiative in perfecting technique, but the movies, on the other hand, are 'all dressed up and nowhere to go'.

I have been holding back a certain amount of material until this mail which should reach you a reasonable time after the election.

The result is that the mail is a very heavy one, and is the result, in some cases, of work that I have had in hand as a side issue for several months.

The material that I refer to particularly is as follows. A long memorandum on 'The Economic Impact of America' that I have put together in spare time over the last few months; a Set of 12 sheets of curves in which I have tried to show the more important Australian statistics in graphic and comparable form; a set of curves showing in the mass and in detail the trend of Australian trade with America and Canada. If you think fit to let the Commonwealth Statistician see these two sets of curves, I would be most interested to hear in due course what he has to say about them.

I would very much like to have your authority to take from two to three weeks' leave from December 16th, as I have had only a week during this year. We give up the short lease we have had of our house on that date, and propose to park the baby and nurse on a relative and go to Switzerland.

I am, Yours sincerely R.G. CASEY

P.S. I enclose cutting showing that Haden Guest [7] has plans for your future.

1 Leopold Amery, Secretary for the Colonies and for Dominion Affairs.

2 Sir Harry Batterbee, Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office.

3 Admiral Sir Frederick Field, Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.

4 Field became First Sea Lord in succession to Madden in July 1930, for a three-year term which saw the Invergordon Mutiny of 1931. Still passed over in 1934, Keyes became a Conservative M.P., helped to bring down the Chamberlain Government in 1940, returned to active service and was elevated to the peerage as Lord Keyes in 1945. In the incident noted by Casey, Keyes had allowed a squabble between two senior officers at Malta over a disciplinary issue to become public: one, Captain Kenneth Dewar, was promoted to Rear Admiral and retired in 1929, the other, Commander Charles Daniel, survived to become Vice-Admiral and Third Sea Lord in 1945.

5 Sir Edward Harding, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office, and Marjorie, daughter of Henry Huxley, were married the following year.

6 Robert Barrington-Ward became editor of The Times in 1941.

7 Leslie Haden Guest was a surgeon, politician (Labour M.P. 1923- 27) and a prolific writer; a British Commonwealth enthusiast.