184 War Cabinet Submission by Mr R. G. Menzies, Minister for Defence Co-ordination

Agendum 243/1940 31 October 1940



Proposals of United Kingdom Government 1. In a cablegram dated 25th October, No. 351 (Annex 'A') [1] the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs [2] advises that, with a view to securing fuller co-ordination in the defence of Malaya, Burma and Hong Kong, a post of Commander-in-Chief, Far East is being created.

2. The Commander-in-Chief will be responsible to the Chiefs of Staff for the operational control and general direction of the training of all British land and air forces in Malaya, Burma and Hong Kong, and for the co-ordination of plans for the defence of these territories. He is to deal primarily with matters of major military policy and strategy and will not assume the administrative responsibility at present exercised by the General Officers Commanding Malaya, Burma and Hong Kong, and Air Officer Commanding Far East, although these officers will be under his command.

3. The Commander-in-Chief will consult and co-operate with Commanders-in-Chief China, East Indies and India, and it is intended that, subject to the concurrence of the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, he should also be authorised to maintain direct communication with the Defence Departments of the Commonwealth and New Zealand on all matters of interest to them.

4. The United Kingdom Government hope that the above arrangements will be welcomed by the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, and that they will be acceptable to any Australian and New Zealand personnel who may serve in the area concerned. The proposal for direct communication by the Commander-in-Chief with the Defence Departments in the Commonwealth is submitted for the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government.

Report by Chiefs of Staff 5. The Chiefs of Staff, in the attached report (Annex 'B') [3] welcome the proposal for the creation of a post of Commander-in- Chief, Far East. They are in agreement with the suggestion that he should be authorised to communicate direct with the Defence Services in Australia on all matters of interest to them, but consider that matters of major policy should be referred to the Services through the Commonwealth Government.

Submission to War Cabinet 6. The above arrangements for the fuller co-ordination of defence in the Far East and the reports of the Chiefs of Staff are submitted for the information and concurrence of War Cabinet. [4]


1 Not printed. On file AA:A2671, 243/1940.

2 Lord Cranborne.

3 Not printed. On file cited in note 1.

4 The report and recommendations of the Chiefs of Staff were accepted on 4 November and the U.K. Govt advised of the decision on 8 November. See War Cabinet Minute 616 and cablegram 581 on file cited in note 1.

[AA:A2671, 243/1940]