THE AUSTRALIAN WAR EFFORT AND BRITISH COMMONWEALTH FORCES FOR THE
1. I have now received a copy of Paper COS(44)408(0) of 10th May
, which arose from the suggestion made by me to the meeting of
Prime Ministers on 3rd May  that General Blamey and the
Australian Naval and Air representatives in London should discuss
with the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff the technical aspects of
the basing of United Kingdom Forces on Australia, with a view to
reaching agreement on the procedure to be followed in the
examination of this matter.
2. It is noted:-
(a) That the document is a statement of the British Commonwealth
Forces likely to be available and the estimated dates on which
they might be operational in the Far East.
(b) That the statement does not imply any commitment or the
adoption of any specific policy or plan of operations in the
(c) That it is assumed that Australia can mount for operations the
forces envisaged and that they can be maintained. It is added that
until further information is available on Australia's
potentialities as a base this cannot be confirmed.
As I said at the Conference, Australia warmly welcomes the idea of
basing British Forces on Australia and will extend the fullest
collaboration and co-operation. I desire, however, to offer
certain remarks on the above points and to raise with you the
question of the procedure to be followed in order to resolve this
question, which is of vital importance to British prestige in the
Pacific and to the form and nature of the Australian war effort.
3. I mentioned at the Conference, that Australia, in addition to
maintaining forces of considerable strength in the Southwest
Pacific Area, as well as continuing its part in the Empire Air
Scheme and manning certain ships for the Royal Navy, has accepted
responsibilities for the provision of works, supplies and services
for the American Forces as well as its own. It has also to
maintain the civil economy on certain austerity standards, and to
meet commitments for the supply of foodstuffs to the United
Kingdom which the representative of the Ministry of Food  is
constantly pressing us to increase.
4. In my cablegram No. 267 of 8th October , I said that it was
evident that we did not have the manpower and material resources
to meet all the demands being made upon us. The Government had
accordingly decided to reduce slightly the strength of the Army
and the number of men and women engaged in munitions and aircraft
production to meet the following needs:-
(a) A shortage of manpower to provide for the level of activity in
a number of basic industries on which the Australian direct
military effort ultimately depends (transport, power, timber,
minerals, food, clothing, etc.), in order to ensure a proper
balance between the direct military programme and its industrial
(b) A shortage of manpower for the production of food for Britain,
and of food and general supplies for rapidly growing Allied Forces
in Pacific Areas.
As the manpower reserves have long since been exhausted the
maintenance of the naval, land and air forces is governed by the
available intake of manpower and womanpower. This has been fixed
at 3,000 men and 2,000 women per month, but I regret to say this
total is not being attained.
5. The Australian Government also decided that the Commander-in-
Chief of the Southwest Pacific Area should be informed of the
definite limits to which commitments can be accepted for United
States requirements of supplies and services and the alternative
choices which such limits impose. The dimensions of United States
demands may be illustrated by the fact that in October last they
involved the employment of 75,000 Australian personnel, and this
figure is expected to rise to 100,000 by June 1944. Also the cost
of Reciprocal Lend-Lease for this financial year will reach close
6. (a) It is therefore clear, in regard to the statement of the
Chiefs of Staff referred to in 2(c) above, that Australia can only
maintain additional forces by adjusting her war effort in some
other direction. I am sure the Government will be quite prepared
to do this provided the Australian military effort is not
permitted to fall below a certain point.
(b) Furthermore it is presumed that if strategical considerations
indicate that additional forces should be sent to Australia, the
resources of the United Nations will be capable of making good
deficiencies which cannot be supplied by the Commonwealth.
(c) In regard to Australia's capacity to mount for operations the
forces envisaged, the Government's naval, military and air
advisers have stated that the fullest information is in their
possession in the light of the experience of this war. Much
detailed information was supplied to the Lethbridge Mission ,
and there are additional sources of information readily available
through the Australian Service representatives in London and
through the United Kingdom Army and Air Force Liaison Staff in
7. The initial step in the whole matter appears to be the need for
a decision by the Combined Chiefs of Staff in the realm of higher
strategy as to whether these additional forces are, ultimately, to
be sent to the Pacific. It is realised that any date must be
provisional and dependent on a variety of contingencies. The
planning of the measures necessary by the Australian Government to
meet demands for supply and maintenance must be taken in hand
early. For example, the targets of food production will have to be
raised and all the factors of production provided for. These may
range from the rural labour force and the material supplies of the
man on the land, to the capacity of canning factories, and the
manpower and material requirements of the food processing
industry. Even if the forces are not ultimately based on Australia
other demands could no doubt absorb supplies such as foodstuffs,
but if plans are not laid now the supplies will not be available,
when they are required. It should not be overlooked that food
production has to harmonize with the seasons of the year, which
are different in the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere.
8. As we speak with experience on the problem of the supply and
maintenance of forces based on Australia, I enclose a copy of a
document which outlines the procedure which has been established
for the co-ordination of the requirements of the Australian and
United States Forces.  Any British Forces would, of course,
similarly work through the agency of the Australian Government
machinery in respect of supplies and services required from
9. To complete the various questions raised in my cablegram of 8th
October, I would refer to the following-
(a) Naval Overseas Commitments
'The Government would be glad to have your observations on the
question of returning Australian Naval personnel serving overseas,
in the light of the general picture of the Australian manpower
situation as outlined in this cablegram.'
(b) Air Force Overseas Commitments
'The Government urges that the precedent initiated by yourself and
Dr. Evatt for transferring R.A.A.F. squadrons from overseas be
carried further by the transfer of additional squadrons.' 'In
order to avoid disrupting the Empire Air Training Scheme, the
Government is agreeable to continue the outflow of personnel, but
this will be on a diminishing basis, as the number of R.A.A.F.
overseas is reduced.'
The Government has asked me to clear up these matters while I am
10. In the case of the Navy, we have a request from the Australian
Naval Staff for the provision of an increased intake to provide
for wastage and new commitments such as the manning of new ships
which are now being completed. This can only be done at the
expense of the Army and Air Force. The question referred to in
sub-paragraph 9(a) is still unresolved, and I shall be glad to
know the views of the Admiralty.
11. In regard to the Air Force, it is noted from document
COS(44)408(0) that 11 Article XV Squadrons of the R.A.A.F. would
be transferred to the Pacific.
12. Finally, it is noted from the Chiefs of Staff document that
the Australian naval, land and air forces are included in the
'statement of forces available to implement a Pacific strategy'.
They have of course been assigned to the Commander-in-Chief,
Southwest Pacific Area, and any variation of this arrangement
could only be made on the recommendation of the Combined Chiefs of
Staff and with the approval of the Commonwealth Government.
13. I would summarize the various points raised by me as follows:-
(a) It is highly desirable to obtain a decision by the Combined
Chiefs of Staff as to whether additional forces are ultimately to
be sent to the Pacific, in order that the Australian Government
may proceed with the measures necessary for supply and
maintenance. If such a decision is not possible, the Combined
Chiefs of Staff should express a general view on the desirability
of Australia proceeding with these measures, in view of the fact
that the resources can be absorbed in other directions in the war
effort of the United Nations. A precise assessment of what
Australia is capable of doing can then be worked out and
communicated to the United Kingdom Government. The decision as to
the nature and extent of its war effort is of course a matter for
the Australian Government. (Paragraph 7.)
(b) The Admiralty to furnish its views on the outstanding matter
referred to in sub-paragraph 9(a).
(c) The Air Ministry to furnish its views on the outstanding
matter referred to in sub-paragraph 9(b).
It is suggested that the foregoing matters be discussed at a
meeting of you and myself and our advisers, together with the
Service Ministers and the Minister of Production. 
Alternatively, if you agree with 13(a), you could instruct Field
Marshal Dill  on the matter accordingly and I shall discuss it
with the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington. I can then deal
with 13(b) and (c) directly with the First Lord of the Admiralty
 and the Secretary of State for Air  respectively.