340 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram 311 [1] LONDON, 8 November 1944, 5 p.m.

TOP SECRET AND PERSONAL

Following from the Prime Minister for Mr. Curtin.

Begins:-

I wish to let you know what arrangements we have in mind for the command, deployment and administration of the fleet which is being sent to the Pacific in accordance with the decisions of the Quebec conference.

Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser now Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern fleet is being appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Pacific fleet. He hopes to arrive in Australia with some of his staff in the near future to meet you and your Ministers and to discuss the arrangements for the maintenance of his fleet. He will be letting you know in due course the exact date of his arrival. After discussions in Australia it is intended that he should proceed to Pearl Harbour for talks with Admiral Nimitz under whose control the fleet will operate.

It is our intention that the fleet should arrive in Australia towards the end of December and should, to begin with, consist of.

2 fast Battleships 4 Fleet Carriers 6 Cruisers including a R.N.Z.N.

21 Destroyers and a number of escorts. Its strength will be built up as rapidly as possible and by July, 1945, the fleet should consist of.- 4 fast Battleships 6 Fleet Carriers 4 light Fleet Carriers 16 Cruisers, including 2 R.N.Z.N. and 1 R.C.N.

40 Fleet Destroyers and about 90 escorts including R.C.N. The fleet will be supported by a fleet train of repair, maintenance and supply ships under the command of a Rear Admiral.

In order to provide for the administrative requirements of the fleet it is necessary that a Vice-Admiral, Administration, should be stationed at Melbourne as the permanent representative in Australia of the Commander-in-Chief, British Pacific fleet. In this capacity, the Vice-Admiral would act on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief and of the Admiralty with the Commonwealth authorities. He and his staff would work in close association with the Australian Commonwealth Navy Board and would make arrangements with them for the fleet's requirements to be met, communicating with the Commonwealth Government through the Minister of the Navy when necessary. He would be the administrative authority for all officers and men of the Royal Navy on shore in Australia and would have under him a Flag Officer, naval air, and a Commodore in charge of a Royal Naval depot (to be known as H.M.S. Golden Hind) both of whom would be stationed in Sydney.

I should be happy to learn that the administrative arrangements proposed accord with your views.

1 Sent through the U.K. Dominions Secretary.

[AA:A5954, BOX 590]