472 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram PM51 CANBERRA, 21 April 1942


From Mr. Curtin.

Your E.S. 2-Reciprocal Lend Lease. [1]

(1) No objection in principle to results of conference being embodied in a memorandum or series of memoranda linked with agreement of 23rd February by a preamble and being varied from time to time by subsequent memoranda. It is essential that our balance of payments should be fully safeguarded and no memorandum should be signed without prior approval from this end.

(2) I concur your suggestion Brigden [2] to be our representative in all discussions including exchange but would like you to keep in touch with major matters as far as practicable during the time you are in Washington. Please instruct Brigden to keep us fully advised.

(3) Your paragraph 4 states it will probably be convenient to deal with United States and United Kingdom relations in separate documents. The triangular arrangement to protect Australian exchange position referred to my P.M. 41 [3] contemplated an agreement or memorandum signed by the three parties. We particularly desired United States to be associated with such an arrangement because- (i) United Kingdom capacity to assist us is dependent upon her own dollar position being adequately protected.

(ii) Acheson [4] had already expressed unofficially desire to assist our balance of payments by indirect means.

Provided our objective of a three party arrangement is satisfactorily achieved and our sterling position fully safeguarded we would be satisfied with separate agreements to this end if that course is considered more convenient than a single three party agreement. We would like broad outline as early as possible of what is proposed on this matter.

(4) Re assistance to United States Forces in the field, desirable Brigden should confer with United Kingdom authorities vide United Kingdom cable 269 of 28th February [5] and paragraph 2 of my P.M.

28. [6] The object is to arrive at agreed general principle of assistance although detail application regarding local needs of United States Forces may vary. Particularly we would like for our own guidance any further information available as to supplies and services (other than pay) which will be provided by United States for their forces in Great Britain.

(5) Discussions with London referred to were authorised from this end prior to receipt of United States memorandum and the object was to seek assistance from the British Government towards that part of our overseas war expenditure which we are unable to meet from our own overseas funds. [7]

So far Bruce has been unable to discuss this with Chancellor [8] because of his concentration on British Budget. In any case as this problem in its widest aspects is now to be examined in Washington we expect decisions there will render unnecessary the temporary arrangement which we were seeking to make with the British Government.

1 Dispatched 17 April. On file AA: A981, USA 181, i. It described U.S. reactions to proposed joint discussions in Washington between the U.S., U.K. and Commonwealth Coves on Reciprocal Lend-Lease.

2 Financial Counsellor at the Legation in Washington.

3 Document 464.

4 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.

5 On the file cited in note 1. It outlined the U.K. Govt's preliminary proposals for Reciprocal Lend-Lease.

6 Document 457.

7 See cablegram 2373 of 20 March to S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, on the file cited in note 1.

8 Sir Kingsley Wood.

[AA:A981, USA 181, i]