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

Cablegram C24 LONDON, 16 November 1939


I have just received the British Government’s memorandum on appreciation of the Japanese position and will cable you a full summary of it tomorrow. [1] At first sight it reads very satisfactorily from the point of view of our security in the Far East. I hope to get a statement on Singapore at an early date [2] and I have arranged for a discussion on Monday afternoon with the Service Ministers and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to elucidate any points necessary. [3] The New Zealand Minister, Fraser [4], on reading the Japanese appreciation, stated to me that he believes it will fully satisfy his Government. Northcott [5] tells me that the War Office has just been informed by cable that the New Zealand Government has sanctioned the despatch of the first echelon of the New Zealand division to Egypt during the last week of January. This must have been sent by the New Zealand Government before the receipt of the summary of the Japanese position which Fraser only received with me this afternoon. New Zealand’s first echelon is a brigade group of about six thousand seven hundred and fifty of all ranks.

I am told confidentially by the South African Minister, Reitz [6], that South Africa proposes to send the personnel of thirty air squadrons to Europe. It is not yet clear whether this indicates that ground personnel and air crews will be despatched to join the R.A.F.



1 See Document 371.

2 See Document 372.

3 For a report of this discussion on 20 November 1939 see PRO: ADM 1/11062. U.K. Ministers present were Lord Chatfield, Minister for Co-ordination of Defence, Winston S. Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Anthony Eden, Dominions Secretary.

4 Peter Fraser, N.Z. Minister for Education, Health, Marine and Police.

5 Maj Gen J. Northcott, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, who was Casey’s military adviser.

6 Colonel Deneys Reitz, South African Deputy Prime Minister.


[AA: A1608, A41/1/1, vi]