27th August, 1925


(Due to arrive Melbourne-26.9.25)

My dear P.M.,

Smit [1] (South African High Commissioner) has evidently obtained permission from his P.M. to be informed on Foreign Affairs by the Foreign Office. Chamberlain [2] sent a note from the country to the Central Department a few days ago saying 'Smit wants to be a Casey as well as High Commissioner. Let him have what he wants.' This was followed soon afterwards by a telephone message from Smit to the Head of the Central Department asking that the papers regarding the Pact [3] be sent round to him. He was told that they could not leave the F.O., whereupon, after some show of indignation by Smit, he sent his Private Secretary to the F.O. and the negotiations up to date were explained to him, which I am sure he didn't understand, as he had (I am told) never heard of the Pact before! This is the beginning, I suppose, of all the other High Commissioners claiming the right to dabble in Foreign Affairs.

I have just talked to a man (Manning [4], a don of New College, Oxford), who is back from South Africa, who says that the Prince's [5] visit was a real success and not merely 'made' by the Press.

He apparently took the politic step of making a number of the highly placed Burghers very drunk (whilst keeping well in hand himself) at an early banquet, which I understand is a short cut to their affections. He says it was a great bit of luck that Hertzog [6] and his Nationalists were in power at the time, as the visit has undoubtedly stirred their feelings. If they had been in opposition, they would have sulked and not co-operated and the Prince would not have been able to reach them.

Manning talked to Smuts [7], who he says still thinks of France in terms of Poincare. [8]

You may have heard of the story of the Burghers' welcome to Admiral Field [9] on his own quarter deck on his arrival in South African waters-it was in plain language to the effect that they did not want there to be any misapprehension, they were not 'loyal', they had no hereditary feeling with regard to the throne and they had no particular veneration for the Navy, but as he had asked them to meet him on board his ship on arrival, they had done so out of courtesy. This would have been a bit of a facer for most people but Field said he was so glad they had spoken out as he liked dealing with blunt outspoken men, as it gave him the chance to be likewise. For himself, the three things that mattered were loyalty to his country and to his King, and to his Service, but the fact that they disagreed on these points was not, he hoped, going to stop them being friends. And with that, he took their spokesman by the arm and led them down to a rattling good lunch, and so set the stage for a visit that without doubt did no end of good as regards improving and educating the old Cape Dutch Nationalists.

I have this story from a man who was present and heard it. Field swore them all to secrecy about it and it only leaked out in confidence a few days ago, in another connection.

In one of my talks to Captain Egerton (Director of Plans, Admiralty), I asked him what the private opinion was with regard to Canada's lack of naval effort. He said, in confidence, they they felt very strongly that Canada was not playing the game. Not only did they completely lack enthusiasm as regards naval construction themselves, but they went so far as to let the ships that they were given by H.M.G. after the war go so completely to pieces that the Admiralty had written them off as having no further value as fighting units. However, Egerton takes some of the blame for H.M.G., who, he says, have consistently sent Canada second rate naval men as advisers-men who would carry no weight as propagandists among the Canadian doubting Thomases.

Egerton has three safes in his room, which contain the plans for naval action in the case of Eastern (Far East), Western (American) and European wars. He says the Eastern safe is full, the European safe half full, and the Western empty. Under no circumstances do they consider a war with America possible.

I believe it has been a great blow to Elder [10] that he has not been made one of the delegates to the Assembly at Geneva! I think he thinks you are saving up for him the appointment in connection with which you used the word 'Ambassador'! In accordance with your telegram, I am off to Geneva next week.

[11] I am taking a car over.

I have had Drake-Brockman [12] and Swinburne [13] to lunch the last two days to meet Hurst [14], Cadogan [15], Villiers [16], Nicolson [17] and Batterbee. [18]

Captain G. H. Wilkins (ex-A.I.F. Official Photographer and Polar explorer) is here. I am taking him today to meet the Dominions Office people and the Naval Hydrographer at the Admiralty, as he may be able to increase their knowledge of the Antarctic in view of the rival claims. I know him fairly well and have listened for many hours at different times to his hopes of being eventually able to have established a ring of Meteorological stations with wireless, round the edge of the South Polar ice, in order to attempt to do long range weather forecasting for the Southern Hemisphere. He is a most earnest and high-minded fellow. I would like to hear the comments of a highbrow meteorologist on his proposed scheme.

He has just bought Amundsen's [19] North Pole aeroplane and proposes to make a trial flight in the South Polar area next year.

Caillaux [20] has come and gone. They had two special Cabinets yesterday to consider the various compromises suggested. They found Caillaux sensible and businesslike and remarkably free from wailing about his country's sacrifices. The communique issued this morning contains the greater part of the truth. Caillaux has gone back with an offer from H.M.G. that they would accept 10 millions cash unreservedly and 2 1/2 millions of French receipts out of the Dawes scheme. This to be increased proportionately if the French have to make any relatively bigger payments to America.

The personnel of the British representatives on the Chinese Exterritorial Conference are being selected. [21] The name of Sir Matthew Nathan [22] has been mentioned.

In conversation with Wellesley [23], who is temporarily in charge of the F.O. while Tyrrell [24] and Gregory [25] are away, he said that he thought the China troubles were far from over and that we are in for a long disturbed period there. He knows a good deal about China as he has specialised in its affairs for years.

O'Malley [26] (F.O.) in the course of philosophising in his report on his recent trip through Russia and Persia (a most interesting report by the way, although of no great importance): 'All Englishmen are aware of something in Americans recalling the atmosphere of a private school or the servants' hall!'

I have just had another session with Capt. Egerton (Director of Plans, Admiralty) which brings out some points of interest, to me at least, and which I will send you next week.

Stonehaven [27] has written to me asking me to go up to Liverpool to talk to him before he leaves, as he goes straight from Scotland to Liverpool. So I'm making a hurried 24-hour trip up there tomorrow.

With best wishes, I am, Yours sincerely, R. G. CASEY

1 Jacobus Smit, South African High Commissioner 1925-29.

2 Austen Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary, 3 The Locarno Pact.

4 C. A. W. Manning, later Professor of International Relations in the London School of Economics and Political Science 1930-62.

5 H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.

6 General James Hertzog, South African Prime Minister.

7 Lt Gen Jan Smuts, South African Prime Minister 1919-24 (and 1939-48) 8 Raymond Poincare, French Prime Minister 1911-13, 1922-24 and 1926-28; President of France 1913-20.

9 Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Field, Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff.

10 Sir James Elder, Australian Commissioner in the United States.

11 Casey had sought permission to attend that year's League of Nations Assembly session; he served as an adviser to the Australian delegation.

12 Senator Edmund Drake-Brockman, an Australian delegate at the 1925 League Assembly session.

13 George Swinburne, Melbourne engineer and politician, an Australian delegate at the 1925 League Assembly session.

14 Sir Cecil Hurst, Legal Adviser to the Foreign Office.

15 Alexander Cadogan, First Secretary at the Foreign Office.

16 Gerald Villiers, Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

17 Harold Nicolson, Counsellor at the Foreign Office.

18 Harry Batterbee, Assistant Secretary at the Dominions Office.

19 Roald Amundsen, theNorwegian discoverer of the South Pole in 1911. His first successful flight over the North Pole was in 1926, in a dirigible with Nobile, an Italian.

20 Joseph Caillaux, French Finance Minister.

21 At the Washington Conference of 1921-22 it had been agreed that a commission should be established to inquire into Chinese legal administration and the question of extraterritoriality, i.e. the right of foreign governments, and not Chinese authorities, to control their citizens in China. The commission finally began work in 1925 but the unsettled state of China prevented a fruitful outcome. In 1931 the Nationalist Government promulgated regulations for the control of foreigners but internal chaos and the Manchuria problem prevented their implementation.

22 Governor of Queensland.

23 Victor Wellesley, Deputy Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

24 Sir William Tyrrell, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

25 J. D. Gregory, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.

26 Owen O'Malley, First Secretary at the Foreign Office.

27 Lord Stonehaven, Governor-General designate of Australia.