Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr R.G. Casey, Minister for Supply and Development

Letter MELBOURNE, 17 October 1939

1. INTRODUCTION With reference to your visit to the United Kingdom as the representative of the Commonwealth Government for discussions on matters relating to the Empire’s war effort, the observations and instructions in the following paragraphs are furnished for your guidance.

2. NAVY You will be aware of the strength and disposition of the Royal Australian Navy and the conditions under which the two 6-inch cruisers have been placed at the disposal of the United Kingdom Government. A statement will be furnished to you of the emergency measures taken to place the Navy on a war footing, and the steps in hand and proposed to strengthen our naval defences. If there is anything additional which we can undertake for the United Kingdom, such as shipbuilding, etc., particulars should be ascertained in order that possibilities may be examined.

3. ARMY You are acquainted with Army Policy, as approved to date, and training the Militia Forces and raising the 6th Division for service at home or overseas. The Military Adviser [1] will have a statement of the emergency measures taken to place the Army on a war footing and the steps in hand and proposed to strengthen our land defences.

4. AIR FORCE You are familiar with the strength and disposition of the R.A.A.F.

and the decisions relating to the despatch of an Air Expeditionary Force of six squadrons, the placing of the three Sunderland flying boats and their crews at the disposal of the United Kingdom Government, and the Commonwealth’s participation in the Empire Air Scheme.

The Air Adviser [2] will have a statement of the emergency measures taken to. place the Air Force on a war footing and the steps in hand and proposed to strengthen our Air Defences.

5. DELIVERIES FROM OVERSEAS A statement will be taken by the Military and Air Advisers of important orders for overseas supplies which are outstanding, and a similar statement will be furnished to you in respect of the Navy. It is desired that you take up with the Departments concerned the possibility of expediting orders and definitely ascertain the prospects of deliveries. It is particularly desired to know the probable position in regard to essential artillery instruments and aircraft. Similar action should be taken in respect of orders relating to your own Department.

6. BEAUFORT AIRCRAFT SCHEME It is desired that you consult the Air Ministry on the Beaufort aircraft scheme and the prospects of completing it according to schedule. Special attention will no doubt be given by you to the question of engines, the type or types to be used and the possibilities of delivery, together with the question of modification of airframes should the Taurus type of engine not be fitted to later batches of airframes.

7. SUPPLIES FROM AUSTRALIA The Controller-General of Munitions Supply [3] will have details of the present productive capacity of the Government Munitions Factories and Annexes, the potential capacity that can be developed, the proportion required for Australian requirements and the balance available or that can be developed for production for other parts of the Empire. It is desired that you should explore the possibility of obtaining orders for any margin that may exist in our local capacity, but before any are accepted the authority of the Government should be obtained, full details being furnished for consideration.

8. WAR BASIS OF AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE POLICY We have had many reviews by the Chiefs of Staff Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence on the basis of Australian Defence Policy in relation to the general scheme of Empire Defence. It is now desired to obtain a parallel document in the light of the international outlook when you are in London and the possible contingencies that may arise from it. This review should be prepared with an appreciation of the international outlook, and should deal with the probable scale of attacks to which Australia might be subjected and the defence against them. In dealing with the scale of defence, particular attention should be paid to the material requirements, whether they are produced in Australia, and, if not, the possibility of supply from overseas.

9. EMPIRE CO-OPERATION Any proposals for further co-operation by Australia in Empire Defence are reserved to Cabinet for decision, and should be remitted (by cable if urgent) for consideration and advice.

10. DOCUMENTS A complete set of the documents of the Delegation appropriately classified and filed should be handed over to the War Cabinet Secretariat for the official records, on your return. They should include:-

(i) Copies of statements submitted to the Conference;

(ii) Copies of documents submitted by the United Kingdom and the Dominion Delegations;

(iii) Any reports by the Conference.

It is desired that you submit a comprehensive report for the consideration of the Government on your return and that progress reports of the Conference be forwarded by cablegram.

11. STAFF The Defence Department will make available to you the services of the Navy [4], Arrays and Air Force [6] Liaison Officers attached to the High Commissioner’s Office.



1 Mai Gen J. Northcott.

2 Group Capt W.D. Bostock.

3 N.K.S. Brodribb.

4 Paymaster Commander P. Perry.

5 Colonel W. Bridgeford.

6 Air Commodore F.H. McNamara.


[AA: CP 290/6, ITEM 35]