Afternoon Light: some memories of men and events by Sir Robert Menzies

By Sir Robert Menzies

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Began to fade. I liked him, and occasionally evoked from him a sort of wintry humour which was n o t without charm. I thought him, in spite of his devotion to maps, charts, and records, n o t incapable of being affected by the right kind of personal and human approach. But, in April 1941, this kind of approach was conspicuously absent. For example, when I mentioned Andrews, the Ulster Prime Minister, De Valera spoke pleasantly about him. I asked whether he saw him frequently. ’ And yet Dublin and Belfast are separated by about ninety miles!

Anthony, E. S. Spooner, J. P. Abbott, and A. McK. McDonald respectively. Up to this time, Philip McBride had for eight months been both Minister for Supply and Minister for Munitions. I appointed a separate Minister for Supply, a department with many ramifications, and assigned McBride entirely to Munitions. I announced further restrictions on petrol consumption, to reduce monthly consumption from apre-war 30,000,000 gallons to 12,000,000. 1 dealt with the shipping problem, saying that the Government must have absolute authority over the use and movement of merchant ships : Accordingly, the ships by which the essential coastal trade of Australia is carried on will at once herequisitioned.

And then bank and t u r n and dip in what to me was a bewildering fashion. And so we landed. Out came the Air Officer Commanding, demanding to know what the devil we meant by coming into an airport which had, for reasons of weather con‑ ditions, been closed for anhour. \ The immaculate Olley emerged, all aplomb, and said, ‘We’ve been OEthe air. C. was all apologies. ’ All I could say was ‘with what loving care they treat Dominion Prime Ministersin England’. I reported to my colleagues in London my impressions formed in Ireland.

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