Diary of a Labour Man: 1917 - 1945

Full text Prime Minister


We, the King's Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, have now, for the first time since the outbreak of the war, been able to meet together to discuss common problems and future plans. The representatives of India at the War Cabinet and the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia have joined in our deliberations and are united with us.

At this memorable meeting in the fifth year of the war, we give thanks for deliverance from the worst perils which have menaced us in the course of this long and terrible struggle against tyranny. Though hard and bitter battles lie ahead, we now see before us, in the ever-growing might of the forces of the United Nations, and in the defeats already inflicted on the foe by land, by sea and in the air, the sure presage of our future victory.

To all our armed forces, who in many lands are preserving our liberty with their lives, and to the peoples of our country whose efforts, fortitude and conviction have sustained the struggle, we express our admiration and gratitude.

We honour the famous deeds of the forces of the United States and of Soviet Russia and pay our tribute to the fighting tenacity of the many States and Nations joined with us. We remember indeed the prolonged, stubborn resistance of China, the first to be attacked by the authors of world aggression, and we rejoice in the unquenchable spirit of our comrades in every country still in the grip of the enemy. We shall not turn from the conflict till they are restored to freedom. Not one who marches with us shall be abandoned.

We have examined the part which the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations should bear against Germany and Japan, in harmony with our allies. We are in cordial agreement with the general plans which have been laid before us. As in the days when we stood all alone against Germany, we affirm our inflexible and unwearying resolve to continue in the general war with the utmost of our strength until the defeat and downfall of our cruel barbarous foes has been accomplished. We shall hold back nothing to reach our goal and bring, to the speediest end the agony of mankind.

We have also examined together the principles which determine our foreign policies and their application to current problems. Here, too, we are in complete agreement.

We are unitedly resolved to continue, shoulder to shoulder with our allies, all needful exertions which will aid our fleet, our armies and air forces during the war and, therefore, to make sure of enduring peace. We trust and pray that victory, which will certainly be won, will carry with it a sense of hope and freedom for all the world. It is our aim that, when the storms and passions of war have passed away, all countries now overrun by the enemy shall be free to decide for themselves their future form of democratic government.

Mutual respect and honest conduct between nations is our chief desire. We are determined to work with all peace-loving people in order that tyranny and aggression shall be removed or, if need be, struck down wherever it raises its head. The people of the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations willingly make their sacrifice to the common cause. We seek no advantage for ourselves at the cost of others. We desire the welfare and social advance of all nations and that they may help each other to better and broader days.

We affirm that after the war a World Organization to maintain peace and security should be set up and endowed with the necessary power and authority to prevent aggression and violence.

In a world torn by strife we have met here in unity. That unity finds its strength, not in any formal bond, but in the hidden springs from which human action flows. We rejoice in our inheritance of loyalties and ideals, and proclaim our sense of kinship to one another. Our system of free association has enabled us, each and all, to claim a full share of the common burden. Although spread across the globe, we have stood together through the stresses of two world wars, and have been welded the stronger thereby.

We believe that when victory is won and peace returns, this same free association, this inherent unity of purpose, will make us able to do further service to mankind."

WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. W. L. MACKENZIE KING, Prime Minister of Canada. JOHN CURTIN, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia. PETER FRASER, Prime Minister of New Zealand. J. C. SMUTS, Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.

On 17th May, 1944, Mr. Curtin said -

It is not very easy for me to say all that is in my heart. The people and the Government of Australia were most anxious that this consultation should take place. They desired it because they felt that the time had come when this council should review the war in the state which it has now reached, so that the heads of governments could be informed more clearly as to the probable course that it might take and the problems that have to be overcome in order to mount to the summit the strength which has gradually been gathered from all parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire and also the resources and efforts of our allies.

I can only say that we are keenly indebted to you (Mr. Churchill) and to your colleagues for the attention you have given not only to the war itself but also to those multitudinous difficulties for the British Commonwealth which the war has caused. During these council meetings you have given to us the amplitude of your great mind and heart, and I know nobody anywhere who could have steered us through these deliberations more graciously, more inspiringly, or more successfully.

I count myself, if I may offer a personal word, happy to have taken part in these discussions. I came not only from a sense of duty but also with a deep desire to be associated in a humble way with deliberations which I knew would reach conclusions of historic significance not only to the British Commonwealth and Empire but, I do believe, to the world at large. The declaration which we have agreed upon and which is to be issued, indicates broadly the essential unity which marks this British Commonwealth and Empire, and it expresses to other nations its deep purpose, that is, to be with them with all that we have until the war is over, and also our determination to do all we can in the years to come to make the world a safer and a better place.

I believe that the episode through which we are passing - I call it an episode, though it is markedly an occasion when aggressors have been able to wage war upon peace-loving peoples - is an episode which has heartened the evolution of our association, has strengthened it and, as it were, has given much acceleration and greater speed to our complete fraternization as peoples offering homage to the King and to that association over which he rules as marking the greatest confraternity of governmental relations the world has yet witnessed.

Our association is one of kinship, one of common ideals and common purposes, and we say to the world at large that we ourselves feel that a world organization for peace, for ensuring peace, and for the prevention of war, is an association into which we will enter and to which we will give all those qualities which we have and which we believe have enabled us to play a very, very significant part in the life of the world as a whole.

I give you the pledge of my country, and I am sure any other Government of the Commonwealth would give you the same pledge, of inflexible determination to be with you until the victory is won. That determination shall have imported into it every quality which marks the people of Australia, those qualities of high endeavour, of endurance, of fortitude, and, may I say, of fighting capability, which the sons and daughters of our race in the Antipodes have displayed and which, I think, have been recognized as their greatest gifts.

I have a great pride in the people of Australia. They have great pride in the British Commonwealth, and we say, too, that this occasion when we have gathered here in the midst of this terrible war in order the more solidly to wage the struggle will be regarded by them as one of the great contributions to the earlier termination of the struggle.

I should like to express our thanks for the great aid your officers have given to us and for the arrangements which have been made for our comfort and for our travel, and to say we will go back to our respective countries, as I know I shall in Australia, with an even clearer insight into the heroic gallantry and the unflagging endeavour which have enabled this bastion of the freedom of the world to reach its present state when it can look forward to peace with confidence"