205 Note by Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, of Conversation with Mr John G. Winant, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom

I went to see the American Ambassador this morning. I had a long talk with him, the principal point being the necessity for the co- ordination of the Allies' efforts in the military, political and economic fields.

Winant opened the conversation by giving me a picture of how things were going in America and contrasted her position now with what it was when she came into the war in 1917. This latter was distinctly encouraging as from Winant's account the Americans do appear to have a very considerable number of trained and partially trained men, whereas in 1917 they had practically nothing.

Winant also referred to the powers which the President now has and intimated that vast as Wilson's [1] powers were, all of which Congress has conferred upon Roosevelt, he has additional powers which he had already obtained. The bulk of the conversation, however, concentrated around the method of coordinating the Allies' effort.

I told Winant of my anxieties and preoccupations on this question and told him how greatly I welcomed the evidences of President Roosevelt's appreciation of the necessity, as shown by his action in his communications to Chiang Kai-shek [2] and Stalin suggesting the local Allied conferences in their two countries, reporting back to the main conference in Washington by the 20th December.

I then dealt with the question very much down the lines of my Memorandum cabled to Australia last Saturday. [3] At the end of the conversation I promised Winant to let him have a copy of the Memorandum, and this I subsequently sent him, somewhat altered in the paragraph which deals with the question of leadership. Copy of the Memorandum as sent is attached. [4]

I stressed to Winant the danger of our all looking at the problems from the point of view of our own immediate interest and anxieties and urged that in the conference at Washington there should be the plainest speaking. In this regard I instanced to Winant the necessity of the Americans being perfectly frank with us in regard to any tendency to over-insure the British Isles, and of our being perfectly frank with the Americans when they showed a tendency to protect their West coast rather than utilising their submarine forces to go and help the Dutch in the vital Far Eastern area.

I also stressed to him the part that America could play in removing the suspicions which I told him I appreciated Russia felt with regard to Great Britain.

I also frankly admitted to him that while the closest contact would have to be maintained between the President and the Prime Minister here [5], the centre of co-ordination of the Allies' effort would probably have to be in Washington.

Winant was in agreement with what I was putting forward and discussed the various aspects of the problem quite fully as they arose. He indicated that as a result of our talk he would cable to the President stressing the points that I had been making and this I am sure he will do. This will be most important as I am convinced that the President takes a lot of heed of what Winant says. [6]


[AA:M100, DECEMBER 1941]

1 U.S. President 1913-21.

2 Chinese Prime Minister.

3 See Document 189, note 5.

4 On file AA:M100, December 1941.

5 Winston Churchill.

6 Bruce briefly reported this conversation to the Prime Minister John Curtin, in cablegram 131 on 18 December. He had a further meeting with Winant on 23 December (reported to Curtin in cablegram 135) at which he stressed 'that U.S.A. had to think in terms of the common cause and not only of the U.S.A. and the safety of her own coasts'. Both cablegrams are on the file cited in note 4.

[LONDON], 18 December 1941