401 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 42[A] LONDON, 9 March 1942, 9.50 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER PERSONAL FOR HIMSELF ONLY

The following is referred to in my previous telegram. [1]

Assumptions 1. Australia is a vital base in the Pacific.

2. She must be reinforced with men and equipment.

On these assumptions-(1) the route must be kept open for the flow of these reinforcements both by sea and air, (2) the scale and time of arrival of these reinforcements must be determined-(a) immediately for the defence of Australia (b) at the earliest possible date for a counter offensive against Japan.

Question Is the primary direction and formulation of plans to give effect to (1) and (2) above to be (a) in London, (b) in Washington? The creation of the Pacific Council was designed to ensure that the primary direction and formulation of plans would be in London.

I had hoped when the present Council was formed that the Chiefs of Staff here would be prepared to submit for approval of the Council definite plans which would contemplate the utilisation of United States forces so far as necessary and that these plans would be submitted to the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington. By this means I hoped that more rapid planning with consequent action would be achieved than by leaving the formulation of plans to Washington where adequate machinery for their preparation is only in the course of being created. These plans would no doubt have had to be modified to conform to the availability of American forces and to meet any objections of the United States Government to the manner in which it was proposed to employ them. They would, however, have provided an immediate working basis.

Experience has shown that the method I had in mind will not be adopted here. The argument against it is that there is no adequate information upon which to formulate strategic plans available in London as to the present position or contemplated expansion of the United States Naval, Land and Air Forces which would have to be mainly employed.

In these circumstances it would appear essential that the proposal contained in the Prime Minister's telegram to the Dominions Office, 166 [2], should be agreed to without any delay and the contemplated machinery put into operation in Washington immediately.

BRUCE

1 Document 400.

2 John Curtin's cablegram is published as Document 388.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10046]