400 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 41[A] LONDON, 9 March 1942, 9.50 p.m.


As I am not directly and primarily handling the vital questions now under discussion it is not for me to send you an official communication. I feel however that I should inform you privately and personally of my views and of the advice I am tend[er]ing [1] to Page. [2]

In my telegram No. 16 of 25th January [3], I indicated for reasons therein given that in my view it was desirable that our influence in the higher direction of the war in the Pacific and Far East should be exercised through the Pacific Council in London. That view I have now changed for the reason given in a note (see my immediately following telegram [4]) I prepared to clear my own mind after receipt of your telegram 166 to the Dominions Office. [5] I am doing everything I can to get support from here with the President [6] for acceptance of your proposal. The point with regard to King

adjustment in working out the scheme.

Some delay is however inevitable in getting the machine working in Washington. In the meantime the vital sea and air communications with Australia must be safeguarded, the maximum flow of aeroplanes, tanks and other munitions must be ensured and plans for our earliest possible reinforcement must be prepared.

All of these things are in train between [the Chiefs of Staff here and] the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington, but not in my view with vigour or drive that the situation demands. It will be for your proposed Council to apply the necessary stimulus.

Pending its functioning something has to be done and that something in my view is that the War Cabinet should deal with the matter itself, instead of leaving it to the Prime Minister as Minister of Defence, and after recording its view as to the imperative necessity of reinforcing Australia accord to us first priority in machines, equipment etc. and instruct the Prime Minister to get in touch with the President with a view to the United States endorsing this decision. Only by this means can fully effective action on your telegram 176 [9] be assured.

I have urged the above course on Attlee [10] and Page and the matter is being raised at War Cabinet which is now sitting.


[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10047]

1 Material in square brackets has been inserted from Bruce's copy on file AA:M100, March 1942.

2 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

3 Document 301.

4 Document 401.

5 Document 388.

6 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

7 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy.

8 For Winston Churchill's cablegram 294 see Document 393, note 7.

9 Dispatched 7 March. In Australian War Memorial: Page Collection, file 773, item 229. It emphasised that Australia's armed forces were desperately short of equipment and urged Churchill to attempt to secure the maximum possible release to Australia of equipment (notably aircraft and vehicles) produced in the United States during March and April.

10 U.K. Dominions Secretary. Bruce's record of this conversation on 9 March is on the file cited in note 1.

[7] (Prime Minister's telegram 294 [8]) should be possible of