167 Massey to Evatt

Dispatch 4147 (extracts) SINGAPORE, 5 February 1947


[matter omitted]

3. Major-General K.W.D. Strong, Director, joint Intelligence Bureau, London, was present at the meeting for the purpose of addressing the Committee [1] concerning the functions of the joint Intelligence Bureau in relation to Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

4. General Strong had just returned from Australia and was evidently very impressed with the work being done in Australia in regard to Intelligence. He expressed appreciation of the help and co-operation extended to him during his visit to Australia.

General Strong dealt with the importance of the setting up of the joint Intelligence Bureau in Australia, and emphasised how closely it linked Australia with all of the areas with which the British Defence Committee in South East Asia is concerned.

5. in the course of his remarks, he pointed out that the joint Intelligence Bureau in the United Kingdom was established with 25% Service personnel, and the remainder civil servants. It was administered under the Ministry of Defence, but received its policy direction from the joint Intelligence Committee in London.

The subjects studied included economic intelligence, food, agriculture, oil, topography, communications, ports and airfields.

The joint Intelligence Bureau collected information from any and all sources, including commercial, public and departmental instrumentalities. in order to make the scope of the Bureau more valuable, it contained men with business experience as members.

6. General Strong informed the Committee of discussions in Australia which will be on record in Australia and therefore will not be repeated unless you so desire.

7. General Strong referred to a matter which had been giving local authorities some concern; it related to the overlapping of the various Departments. The question had been raised at a previous meeting of the Defence Committee, when it was pointed out that there were at least three different authorities collecting information in Singapore which might well be centred in one suitable organisation. General Strong agreed with this and pointed out that the joint Intelligence Bureau, so far as United Kingdom was concerned, did not deal with the wider aspect of matters which were the concern of the Foreign Office, but it was the Joint Intelligence Bureau's task to study such matters as factory layouts, production, sabotage and the distribution of manpower. It was confirmed by General Strong that the Government of Australia had accepted responsibility for the Pacific, China, Japan, French Indo-China, New Zealand, Australia and Malaya, but not for Burma and Ceylon. [2]

8. In reply to questions by His Excellency the Governor-General, it was stated that, as Australia had decided to base the Joint Intelligence Bureau for that area, which included Malaya, in Australia, it was not considered necessary to also set up a Bureau in Singapore. General Strong, however, said that it had been agreed by the Government of Australia to appoint one Joint Intelligence Bureau officer and staff in Singapore and that, similarly, the joint Intelligence Bureau, London, would establish one civilian and staff. These two staffs would be responsible for collating information on behalf of the Joint Intelligence Bureau, Australia, and also providing the Intelligence Staffs in Singapore with Joint Intelligence Bureau information.

9. Summed up, it may be said that the trend of General Strong's address to the committee was that Australia was anxious to do everything possible in regard to intelligence and to that end would be willing to furnish information to this area as well as accept any information which the representatives of the Bureau in Singapore would pass on to Australia.

10. The Governor-General, at the conclusion of General Strong's address, said that he could vouch for the wholehearted co- operation of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia in this matter, especially as the future strategic policy in South East Asia was so closely connected with Australia. He welcomed the arrangement for the establishment of an officer of the Joint Intelligence Bureau, Australia, in Singapore. He also mentioned the fact that consideration would be given to the question of the future position of Burma and Ceylon in the larger scheme of Defence and Intelligence in this area, and in fact there and then proposed that a committee should be set up to investigate this phase. General Strong expressed the view that the Joint Intelligence Bureau in Australia would welcome the recommendations of such a committee.

11. The Governor-General suggest that, as the Director of the joint Intelligence Bureau, London, was a member of the Joint Intelligence Committee, London, the senior Joint Intelligence Bureau Liaison Officer, Singapore, should be a member of the joint Intelligence Committee, Singapore. General Strong, in reply, said that the Australian Government had requested that their representative in Singapore should act as an observer on the Joint Intelligence Committee, but that it was obviously preferable for their representative to be a full member if this were possible. In reply to a question, General Strong said that he considered the Joint Intelligence Bureau in Australia had little hope of the complete organisation starting work before the 1st July 1947. It was ultimately decided that the joint Intelligence Committee, Singapore, would consider what assistance could be provided for the Joint Intelligence Bureau Liaison Officers in Singapore, and to further examine how the maximum efficiency could be attained by the Joint Intelligence Bureau organisation in South East Asia. It was also decided that the Liaison Officers should be invited to attend all meetings of the Joint Intelligence Committee, Singapore.

[matter omitted]


17. As will be appreciated from my above remarks, the meeting covered matters of great interest to Australia, and I would like to inform you, Sir, that I have been particularly struck with the very great swing of interest towards Australia at practically every meeting I have attended in this area. Australia is definitely being looked to as the bastion of the future. There is hardly a day goes by without some reference being made at a discussion or in paper to the dependence of this area on Australia. They refer to intelligence, defence, commerce or as the granary of South East Asia. I have attended many important official social functions and, on every occasion, I have had at least two or more discussions with someone or other important ...

in regard to Australia's interest in this area. In addition to this, very many people, as you are aware, are continually passing through Singapore and, as far as practicable, I have met those more important persons who invariably express great interest in Australia. In this regard, I might say that every senior officer, without exception, here, from the Governor-General downwards, is very well disposed towards Australia.

1 The British Defence Committee in South East Asia.

2 One sentence here omitted in accordance with Section 33(1)(a) of the Archives Act 1983.

[AA: A5954/1, 1908/6]