186 Forde to Bruce

Cablegram 78 CANBERRA, 8 June 1944


Before he left London, the Prime Minister advised that he had asked you to follow up the question of obtaining an appreciation on the position in China which was submitted to him at the request of the Advisory War Council in my cablegram 68 of 19th May. [1]

2. The following cablegram [2] dated 4th June has been received from the Australian Legation, Chungking:-

'Japanese forces are advancing in West Hupei and particularly in north east Hunan and informed Chinese appear resigned to the early fall of Changsha.

2. Whilst I do not believe that the regime here is in danger, or accept the more alarmist fears of a Japanese thrust to Chengtu, there is no doubt that the situation is very serious and that some assistance must be given to the Chinese if the Japanese advance is to be at least delayed and at the best held up. 3. The only possible assistance is presumably in the air. I appreciate that the decision is for Washington as forces available are U.S.A. I assume Washington is fully informed of the position and appreciate that although the authorities in the past have called for assistance when not in real danger this time all concerned here agree that the danger is real and that plans for future action against Japan involving China will be disrupted if the Japanese succeed. Washington will have to weigh the needs of the north Burma campaign and preparations for the long range bombing project as against the urgency for the use of all available strength against the Japanese offensive.' 3. It is understood by Officer that this information has been communicated to London and Washington.

4. Glad to know whether information sought in council is yet available. [3]


1 Document 156. On 23 May Curtin advised Forde that the views of the Advisory War Council were being put before the U.K. Govt, and would be followed up by Bruce. See cablegram 34, on file AA:A5954, box 436.

2 No. S26.

3 A report by the U.K. Joint Intelligence Committee prepared for the U.K. War Cabinet on 9 June was forwarded by Bruce to Forde on 10 June in cablegram 83[A]. The report acknowledged significant Japanese advances and doubted the ability of Chinese troops to repel them. On 12 June Bruce conveyed in cablegram 85[A] a similar appreciation by a senior U.K. officer. Both reports were submitted to the Advisory War Council on 29 June and are on file AA:A2679, 12/1944.

[AA:A5954, BOX 436]