Mr J.S. Duncan, Acting High Commissioner in London, to Mr J.A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram 78 LONDON, 30 March 1939, 8.42 p.m.


At meeting this evening the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs [1] informed the High Commissioners of the decision being conveyed in Dominions Office telegram 126 to you tonight. [2] It is hoped that the French and Polish replies will be received in time to enable the declaration to be made tomorrow Friday. In that event it will be made in answer to private notice question which will be put in the House tomorrow. Its terms have not yet been finally settled but it will be down the lines set out in telegram.

There have been reports of German troop movements and military activity but they are not confirmed from official sources. There has also been a report that some German operation is to be ready to start at the end of this month but there is no official observation which confirms this report. United Kingdom Government reached the conclusion this morning in view of possibilities in the next few days that Germany must be left in no doubt as to the attitude of Great Britain in the event of attack upon Poland.



1 Sir Thomas Inskip.

2 Not printed. In Dominions Office circular cablegrams B122 and B123 sent 29 March, received 29 March, not printed, the U.K. Government advised that it had not proved possible to proceed with the proposed Four-Power declaration, whereby Britain, France, Poland and the Soviet Union would announce that they would immediately consult together about joint resistance to action threatening the independence of any European state, because Poland was unwilling to be associated with the Soviet Union in such a public declaration. The U.K. Government therefore intended, together with France, to inform the Polish and Rumanian Governments that Britain and France would assist Poland and Rumania if either state’s independence were threatened: this arrangement would he reciprocal in the case of Poland. Dominions Office circular cablegram B126 of 30 March, received 31 March, stated that, following unconfirmed reports that Germany was contemplating an immediate coup against Poland, it had been decided to make an immediate announcement that Britain would assist Poland in resisting any attack upon Polish independence. The statement was made by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, in the House of Commons on 31 March and the text forwarded in Dominions Office circular cablegram ES of 31 March, received 1 April, not printed. (For all cablegrams cited, See AA: A981, Poland 4, i.) No reaction by the Australian Government to this decision has been found.


[AA: A981, POLAND 4, i]