9th May, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 8.6.29)

My dear P.M.,

I have been submerged this week by Mawson's impending departure today. [1] He is handing over a great mass of unfinished jobs to me, which will take a big proportion of my time for the next month at least. I have to get the aeroplane, negotiate the Charter Party, British and European press rights, fix the insurance and arrange for the installation of the wireless and echosounding gear. J. K. Davis [2] is to be fully occupied on other jobs and will not touch the above. So if my mails to you are light, it will not mean that I have been immersed in the fleshpots of the Season.

I gave a lunch yesterday for Wiikins [3], at which I had representatives of all departments, as well as the press and a number of prominent Australians in London. I hope it will result in his getting reasonably good contributions from some of the old gentlemen present. I had Stefansson [4] there, who was able to give Wilkins a much better and more disinterested 'boost' than I was in a position to do. He and Wilkins (having mutually saved each other's lives on various unpleasant occasions) are the only two polar workers that I have met who have remained friends.

Mawson still leaves no stone unturned to deprecate and decry Wilkins in the most unpleasant and childish way. He started it with me until I told him that, whatever his deficiencies, Wilkins was a friend of mine and that, as regards his work, it appeared to me that he deserved great consideration in view of his Arctic flight and his Graham Land effort-leaving out his previous record.

I enclose copy of a book of speeches of Lord Birkenhead's [5], which it may interest you to look through. They are selected from his serious efforts and would have been lightened by a few of his after dinner performances. But they are all delightful to read, which makes them an exception to Disraeli's dictum that 'if a speech reads well, it is unlikely to have been a good speech'.

I send in another letter a most secret C.I.D. document on the Defence of India, which I have been allowed to send you personally (and presumably at your discretion to be seen by the Defence Minister [6] and C.G.S. [7]), but which is not going to other Dominions.

I enclose letter from Amery [8] to the 'Times' (8th May), urging a more extended use of Empire timbers. In a house that I am just about to build in Westminster, I am having jarrah parquet floors and panelling and doors of Australian woods.

My wife insists that I send you an unsolicited testimonial in the form of a letter to her from Allen Leeper's [9] wife.

I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Sir Douglas Mawson, leader of the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-31. He left for Australia on 9 May to complete arrangements for the expedition, and rejoined the Discovery at Capetown in October 1929, proceeding then to the Antarctic.

2 Captain J.K. Davis, Mawson's deputy.

3 Sir Hubert Wilkins, Australian polar explorer then raising funds for planned air expeditions.

4 Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Canadian polar explorer.

5 Lord Birkenhead, until his retirement from politics in the previous year Secretary for India.

6 Senator Sir William Glasgow.

7 Lt Gen Sir Harry Chauvel.

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

9 Australian-born First Secretary at the Foreign Office.