Offices on the move - Overseas

Prime Minister Menzies was out of Australia from January to May 1941, spending most of that time in London.

In May and June 1944, Prime Minister Curtin travelled overseas also, visiting the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Maintaining frequent and timely communications between the Prime Ministers and their Cabinets and ministers back in Australia was crucial to the war effort. To assist with this and many other duties, Mr Curtin was accompanied by his private secretary Frederick McLaughlin, his press secretary Don Rodgers, and by the Secretary of the War Cabinet and War Council Sir Frederick Shedden, along with Shedden's personal assistant, Sam Landau. 1

Both Menzies and Curtin attended meetings of the British War Cabinet while in England. These meetings were often held at 10 Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. During bombing raids however, meetings were moved below ground to a fortified basement in Whitehall known as The Cabinet War Rooms, which offered shelter from the air raids. 2

British War Cabinet meetings were also attended by Stanley Bruce, Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain, and Earle Page, as ministerial representative in London.

War Cabinet papers, London, 22 May 1944

Page from the Prime Minister’s War Cabinet Papers, London of 22 May 1944, listing those attending the meeting. Dominion Prime Ministers, including John Curtin, were present.
National Archives of Australia: A5954, 668/1

PM Menzies, General Blamey and Frederick Shedden, Tobruk, 1941

Prime Minister Menzies (centre) in Tobruk, talking with General Sir Thomas Blamey (right), and Frederick Shedden Secretary of the Department of Defence.
National Archives of Australia: A5954, 1299/2 Photo 5836


John Curtin (right) with Winston Churchill and Dominion leaders, London, 1944

John Curtin (right) with Winston Churchill and Dominion leaders, London, 1944.
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library. Records of the Curtin Family. Empire Conference, London, UK 1944. JCPML00376/77


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