106 Shedden to Wilson

Letter MELBOURNE, 1 April 1944

SECRET

The Admiral [1] saw the Prime Minister this morning regarding the variation of the intake into the R.A.N. to enable additional ships to be manned. Before the Prime Minister saw him, he promised me that he would not take any decision, and I furnished him with the attached note of 31st March [2] relative to intakes. After the Conference, the Admiral said that the Prime Minister had promised to discuss the matter with Ministers next week.

2. I told the Admiral that I thought he was prejudicing whatever merits his case might have by the way he was rushing the matter and by following such an unusual procedure. [3] He agreed with this view and said that all that he had asked the Prime Minister was that he should keep the door open to take up the matter in London, if it were ultimately decided to do so.

3. When the Prime Minister and I discussed the matter, we both attached great importance to cablegram 267 of 8th October [4] to the United Kingdom Government, relative to the re-balancing of the war effort, to which we have not received any reply. The Prime Minister went so far as to say that if Mr. Churchill did not choose to reply to his representations about the concentration of the Australian war effort in the Southwest Pacific by the return of naval crews and R.A.A.F. squadrons, he certainly was not going to adopt such a humble attitude as to offer him gifts by manning additional ships. As you know from my minute of 23rd March [5], an R.N. squadron is in the Indian Ocean awaiting transfer to the Pacific, but this has not apparently been agreed to so far by the Americans.

4. Furthermore, the Prime Minister says that he must discuss the war effort from all angles and ascertain whether food will be the most effective contribution after a military effort of a certain size, in which event we must get a solution of the problem of manpower for the primary industries. This, of course, is wrapped up with the consideration of the further report of the War Commitments Committee [6] and the review of the Defence Committee.

weighed and this will take a lot of time and consideration.

5. In my opinion, therefore, it is quite wrong to take a hasty decision about the acceptance of additional liabilities for any of the Services, until we can see the whole picture clearly. You will observe from my note of 31st March that, though the monthly allotment for the Services is 5,000 men and women, this figure has not been reached during any of the four months ending February.

6. You will observe in regard to the minute [8] signed by the Commander-in-Chief, the Chief of the Naval Staff and the Chief of the General Staff that the re-allocation is contingent on the United Kingdom making available further ships, which is a far different question from the Government deciding the thing as a matter of policy after the all-in review to which I have referred.

7. I hope the foregoing will assist you to keep the matter on the right lines.

[AA:A5954, BOX 657}

1 Admiral Sir Guy Royle.

2 Not published.

3 A reference in part to Royle's representations to the Advisory War Council. See AWC minute 1322 of 21 March in AA:A2682, vol. 7.

4 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI, Document 293.

5 See Shedden's minute to Curtin, on file AA:A5954, box 657.

6 Dated 19 February. On file AA:A2671, 80/1944.

7 Dated March 1944. On the file cited in note 5.

8 Dated 25 March. On the file cited in note 5. It appears Shedden's reference to the Commander-in-Chief should have read the Chief of the Air Staff.

[7] I should say off-hand that there are many factors to be