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284 Note of Meeting of U.K. and Dominions Representatives

LONDON, 27 September 1938, 11.30 p.m.



Malcolm MacDonald, acting for Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner for Australia C. T. te Water, High Commissioner for South Africa Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada F. T. Sandford, Secretary, New Zealand High Commission J. W. Dulanty, High Commissioner for Eire Sir Edward Harding, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs Sir Harry Batterbee, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions Office E. G. Machtig, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Dominions Office N. E. Archer, Dominions Office

MR MACDONALD explained the developments of the past ten hours. He read to the High Commissioners extracts from Sir Nevile Henderson's telegram of the 27th September reporting his interview with Field Marshal Goering. [1] He also outlined the course of Sir Horace Wilson's discussions with Herr Hitler on the 26th and 27th September [2], and explained the circumstances in which Sir Horace Wilson had delivered his oral message to Herr Hitler. Mr MacDonald then referred to Herr Hitler's reply of the 27th September [3] to Mr Chamberlain's letter of the 26th September [4] which had been received at 8.40 p.m. that evening and had been seen by most of the Dominion representatives before the meeting. He also read to the meeting the telegrams which were being despatched to the Dominion Governments containing the substance of the latest proposals made to the German Government (F.O. telegram to Berlin No. 428 of the 26th September) [5], and the complementary instructions sent to His Majesty's Minister at Prague. He also mentioned the message sent by the Prime Minister to Dr Benes [6] earlier in the afternoon (Circular B. No. 302). [7]

MR BRUCE enquired what arrangements were contemplated when Parliament met and what line the Prime Minister would take.

MR MACDONALD said that, whilst he understood the Prime Minister had reached no final conclusion, he believed that Mr Chamberlain's intention was, unless circumstances compelled otherwise, to preserve his attitude as mediator until the last possible moment and not to come out definitely against either the Germans or the Czechs unless either side refused what he considered to be a reasonable offer.

MR BRUCE said that he thought that the adoption of any other course by the Prime Minister would be quite disastrous. He urged that the Prime Minister should not sacrifice the great position and prestige resulting from his recent efforts.

MR MASSEY and MR TE WATER strongly concurred with Mr Bruce's view.

1 Not printed. Sir Nevile Henderson was U.K. Ambassador in Berlin;

Hermann Goring was German Minister of Air.

2 See Document 283, note 5.

3 Not printed.

4 Not printed; Neville Chamberlain was U.K. Prime Minister.

5 Not printed.

6 Dr Eduard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia.

7 Not printed.

[PRO : DO 114/94]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History