174 Massey to Shedden

Letter SINGAPORE, 7 June 1947


You will recall that, when I saw you in September last, we discussed matters of mutual interest concerning future planning, intelligence, etc., in my domain and Australia's interest therein.

Since that time, quite a large amount of organisation and discussions concerning extremely important matters have eventuated.

2. The most important step, I feel, relates to the firm establishment of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia, together with its supporting committees. No doubt, you are fully aware of the personnel of the main committee but, in case this has not come to your notice, you will be interested to know that His Excellency the Governor-General, Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, P.C., is chairman; Lord Killearn, Special Commissioner in South East Asia, Deputy Chairman; each of the Commanders-in-Chief, General Sir Neil Ritchie, Air Marshal Sir George Pirie, and Rear Admiral Egerton, acting for the Navy, are members, while the various Governors in the area, including Singapore, Malayan Union, Sarawak, Borneo and Hong Kong, are invited to attend as is thought desirable. So far, the outside Governors have not attended and the Governor-General himself has acted on their behalf. From time to time, other outside people have attended the committee meetings and taken a very active part in discussions, including Lord Tedder [1], Lord Montgomery, also the Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff (General Strong), and other important persons. When these people attend the committee it is usually for a specific purpose and the ordinary general work of the committee is postponed for another meeting.

3. Associated with and leading up to the British Defence Committee in South East Asia are the following:-

JOINT PLANNING ORGANISATION which is responsible to- JOINT INTELLIGENCE COMMITEE which, in turn, is responsible for the gathering of all kinds of information for submission to the- COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF COMMITTEE IN SOUTH EAST ASIA, also for advice to the BRITISH DEFENCE COMMITTEE.

In between the British Defence Committee in South East Asia and the Joint Intelligence Committee, there is the- CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE which is really a sub-committee of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia. This committee (Co- ordination Committee) has been authorised by the parent committee to make decisions on behalf of the British Defence Committee in South East Asia and thus relieve the parent committee of some of the routine work which otherwise would clutter up its activities.

4. The various committees, leading up as they do to the British Defence Committee in South East Asia, are doing extremely important work and the matters they are considering at the present time are of vital importance to Australia.

5. As you are aware, I sit in as Australia's representative in the form of an observer and liaison officer on the parent committee, and I also attend each of the other committees, and thus I am informed on practically every matter of importance which is occurring in South East Asia.

6. Following conversations with Mr. Dedman and Mr. Ward who passed through here yesterday, doubt has arisen in my mind as to the amount of information you are getting from here, and I thought I would drop a line to you just to see to what extent you are being kept informed of the various happenings. I don't want in any way to burden you with unnecessary information but, in view of a report which appeared in Thursday's Press to the effect that an amount of 250,000,000 of good Australian money will be spent within the next few years on Defence matters, I feel that you should have the best information possible from this area to help you to come to decisions on matters of vital importance. I need not say that the British Defence Committee in South East Asia is at present dealing with matters of the greatest importance which must be of interest to Australia.

7. I might say that, even though I am Australia's observer on the British Defence Committee in South East Asia, the Governor-General invariably treats me as a member and, on many occasions, before arriving at a decision, seeks my help and advice either in committee or personally which, I feel, is all to Australia's good.

On the other committees, I take part in discussions but I am careful not to express an opinion as that of Australia unless I have already been instructed from Australia. Personal discussions, however, have been most valuable and I feel that we are well on top in matters of this kind.

8. If you would kindly drop me a personal line on any matter you feel that you would like further information, I will do my best to supply it in whatever form may be required. [2]

9. The various Ministerial parties passing through appear to be in good form and I feel will give a good account of themselves on behalf of Australia.

10. Would you kindly treat this letter as a personal one.

1 Marshal of the Royal Air Force; Chief of the Air Staff 2 In a letter dated 30 August Shedden expressed his satisfaction with arrangements and thanked Massey for his offer of assistance.

[AA : A5954/1, 1908/6]