499 Memorandum by Mr S. M. Bruce,

High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, for Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs


In my previous Note of the 3rd May on this subject [1] I set out under 1 to 5 at the end of the Note what the present position is.

The result of the situation therein described has been that great issues have been decided without the Australian Government having, in Churchill's words, 'fullest opportunity for knowing all the essential facts and putting forward suggestions and views.' (Winch No. 11 [2].) Outstanding examples are:-

(a) Basic strategic policy agreed in Washington between the President [3] and the Prime Minister in December last which was embodied in a document known as W.1. [4]

Australia was not informed and in fact had no knowledge as to the basic strategic policy agreed upon in Washington until May 13th when at his request W.1 was made available to Evatt.

Apart from the principle involved this non-disclosure and non- consultation with regard to the basic strategic policy places Australia in an impossible position in pressing for the Forces and equipment necessary for the defence of Australia and its subsequent utilisation as an offensive base.

It also places us in grave difficulty in maintaining our claims before the London and Washington Munitions Assignments Boards as these Boards are governed by the directions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff based upon a strategic policy in the framing of which we have had no voice.

(b) Decisions arrived at as a result of the discussions which took place during the visit to London of Hopkins [5] and Marshall [6] in April.

The first intimation that the Australian Government had officially of the purpose of the Hopkins and Marshall visit was contained in Dominions Office telegram No. Z. 57 of the 4th May 1942 [7] which gave a brief summary of the decisions arrived at.

(c) Seizure of Diego Suarez [8] involving the whole question of our relations with Vichy France.

We were not advised until after the event. Actually the Press were informed confidentially before any intimation was sent to the Dominions.

(d) The discussions with the Soviet in connection with the question of Russia's post-war boundaries.

Conversations involving the taking of a definite line on this important question have been carried on with the Soviet Government and Maisky [9] and the U.S.A. Government and Winant [10] without our having been consulted as to what that line should be. We have only been informed as to what has occurred at a time when it was too late for us to take any effective action if we had so desired.

(e) The question of supplies to Russia during the balance of the Protocol period and for the period subsequent to the expiry of the existing Protocol have recently been under consideration.

We have not been advised of what was contemplated nor consulted in any way.

The above instances are sufficient to show that we have not been in the past, nor are being at the present moment, afforded the representation that was contemplated so that in the Prime Minister's [11] words 'Australia's views and counsel might be heard directly in respect to the conduct of the war in total'.

This situation cannot be allowed to continue as in addition to not being in accord with what was agreed it conflicts with what the people, as a result of statements by the Prime Ministers both here and in Australia, believe to be the position. The question to be determined is what action should be taken.

As I see it there are two alternative courses open:-

(1) To formulate definite proposals and obtain the acceptance of them by the Prime Minister in writing.

(2) To put the position to the Prime Minister and obtain from him a general undertaking that he will remedy it.

On the basis of this general undertaking leave it to the Accredited Representative here to endeavour to bring about a more satisfactory position. The Government to determine its future line of action in the light of his reports.

[AA:M100, MAY 1942]

1 On file AA:M100, May 1942.

2 See Document 248, note 4.

3 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

4 See Document 497, paragraph 2.

5 Adviser to Roosevelt.

6 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

7 See Document 483, note 10.

8 Allied forces occupied the naval base at Diego Suarez in Madagascar on 5 May to forestall tile possibility of a similar operation by the Japanese.

9 U.S.S.R. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

10 U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

11 John Curtin. See the Note cited in note 1.

[LONDON], 27 May 1942