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Letter LONDON, 27 May 1944
Following our discussion at the Staff Conference on Friday, May 26
2. With reference to paragraph 13(a) of your letter about the
basis on which the Australian Government are to make their future
plans, you will find a good deal of the material you require in
two papers which you already have, namely, the record of the
meeting which we had at Chequers on Sunday, May 21
(C.O.S.(44)447(0)) ; and the report dated May 10 which the
Chiefs of Staff prepared in accordance with your request
3. To take the Australian war effort first, we agreed at Chequers
that the apportionment should be as follows:-
(a) the maintenance of six divisions for active operations;
(b) the maintenance of the Royal Australian Navy at its present
strength, plus additions arising from the Australian Naval
construction programme (see my later comments on the naval
(c) the maintenance of the Royal Australian Air Force at the
strength of 53 squadrons, to be achieved under the present
programme by December 1944;
(d) Food for Great Britain (with a possible addition for India) to
be exported on the 1944 scale.
4. On the question of the additional British forces which may
ultimately be sent to the Pacific, no firm estimate can be made
until the strategy for the war against Japan and our post-war
commitments in Europe have been decided. Meanwhile, however, the
report which the Chiefs of Staff prepared at your request
(C.O.S.(44)408(0)) sets out the best forecast that they have been
able to make of the naval, land and air forces which might be
available to be sent to the war against Japan, and the dates by
which they might become operational. Although these forecasts are
of an essentially provisional character and do not imply any
commitment or the adoption of any specific plan, we are agreed, I
think, on the desirability of Australia proceeding with the
measures necessary for their supply and maintenance, observing, as
you point out in paragraph 13(a) of your letter, that these
resources could be absorbed in other directions in the war effort
of the United Nations if it is ultimately decided that all or part
of the British forces in question should not be based on
5. We are agreed, I think, that whatever strategic policy may be
decided upon for the conduct of the war against Japan, it would be
prudent to commence the further development of Darwin and
Fremantle as a base of operations at an early date. The precise
form that this development should take will, of course, depend
upon the reports we receive from the Australian Staff after they
have consulted with the British Reconnaissance Mission which is
now on its way to Australia.
6. With reference to paragraphs 9(a) and 13(b) of your letter
under reply, the First Sea Lord has, I think, explained the
present position to you. There are approximately 3,000 Royal
Australian Naval personnel overseas, manning six destroyers and
twenty minesweepers belonging to the Royal Navy. The majority of
these ships are now serving in the Indian Ocean. The return of
these personnel to Australia would present the Admiralty with a
most serious manning problem and would, in fact, mean the
demobilization of the destroyers and minesweepers manned by the
Royal Australian Navy or of an equivalent number of ships in the
Royal Navy. It should, however, be possible, if the Eastern Fleet
establishes an advance base in the waters to the north of
Australia, for the six Australian-manned destroyers to be the
first to move in that direction. You mentioned to me on Sunday,
and again on Friday, that some proposal had been made for
Australia to provide additional naval personnel to the tune of
three or four thousand men. I think there must have been some
misunderstanding on this, since I am assured by the First Sea Lord
that no such proposal emanated from the Admiralty. Nevertheless,
if the Australian Government could see their way to provide the
personnel, the Admiralty would be most willing to turn over to
Australia an aircraft carrier and one or more cruisers. A more
detailed statement prepared by the Admiralty is attached. 
7. With reference to paragraphs 9(b) and 13(c) of your letter, I
fully realize the desire of the R.A.A.F. squadrons to get back to
Australia and take part in the fighting against Japan.
Nevertheless, to send them back at the present moment could not be
justified, since releases would be at the expense of the impact on
Germany. This does not mean, of course, that we shall hold these
squadrons a day later than is necessary. There are certain
complications concerning the admixture of R.A.F. personnel within
these squadrons with the R.A.A.F. personnel. These difficulties
can, I am sure, be overcome when the time comes for the squadrons
8. As regards the Empire Air Training Scheme, the recent reduction
in the Training Organization already allows a very considerable
reduction (approximately 40 per cent) on previous contributions of
Australian trainees. The Air Ministry would however be prepared to
go further and forego any Australian contribution above what is
required to maintain the R.A.A.F. regular and Article 15
squadrons. In effect this would mean a complete stoppage of
despatch of Australian trainees to Canada for further training,
except for those you wish to have trained for your own squadrons.
This question is now for you to decide.
9. I gladly agree to the Australian Cabinet's proposal  that we
should release 100 men a month from amongst those who have served
two or three years away from home. I am most grateful for the
undertaking that 100 men shall be sent monthly from Australia as
replacements. This arrangement will be put in hand forthwith.
10. A further Air Force point which you mentioned at the meeting
on Friday was your desire to have a senior Royal Air Force Officer
posted to Australia. The Chief of the Air Staff said that his
Secretary of State proposes to submit some names to you before you
leave. I trust that this matter will be satisfactorily settled.
11. Towards the end of the meeting on Friday, Lord Leathers 
explained the difficulties in the way of accepting your generous
offer to increase the supplies of butter and sugar to this
country. He undertook, on your request, to let you have a separate
note on the general transport aspect of Australian exports.
12. Finally there is one further matter which I would like to
place on record. just before the meeting on Friday, we gave you a
copy of a memorandum entitled 'THE WAR AGAINST JAPAN'.  I wish
again to emphasise that this paper does not purport to do more
than give an indication of the way our minds are working. We
propose to press on with our study of the proposition with which
it deals with a view to discussing it with the United States
Chiefs of Staff round the table at the first available
opportunity. Meanwhile I am sure that you will understand my
desire that you should not make any reference to this project in
your forthcoming discussions in Washington. Similarly I should be
glad if you would keep to yourself the very provisional estimates
contained in the report by the Chiefs of Staff (C.O.S.(44)408(0))
in regard to the British forces which might be based on Australia.
The apportionment of the Australian war effort is, of course,
quite another matter, and so far as I am concerned there would not
be the slightest objection to discussing the propositions on which
you and I agreed with the United States Authorities.
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL
P.S. Upon further reflection, I think it would be best if you read
and studied 'THE WAR AGAINST JAPAN' on the basis that it is not an
agreed document here, and then destroyed it by fire, as otherwise
it may some day fall into hands that do not know the basis on
which it has been delivered and tend to confuse.
[AA:A5954, BOX 5]
1 See Document 167.
2 Document 153.
3 This number refers to a note from Maj Gen L. C. Hollis, U.K.
Senior Assistant Secretary in the War Cabinet Office, covering the
minutes published as Document 161.
4 On file AA:A5954, box 5.
5 Dated 26 May. On the file cited in note 4.
6 See War Cabinet minute 3541 of 9 May in AA:A2673, vol. 14.
7 U.K. Minister of War Transport.
8 Undated. On the file cited in note 4.
Category: International relations