257 Cranborne to Curtin Circular

Cablegram D1195 LONDON, 24 August 1944, 5.45 p.m.


Following for the Prime Minister.

You will remember that at the 4th meeting of Prime Ministers held on the 15th May, a discussion took place regarding the machinery of co-operation within the British Commonwealth. [1] On behalf of the United Kingdom Government, I put forward certain suggestions for consideration as to co-operation in the sphere of defence. Mr.

Curtin also made some proposals set out more fully in a paper [2] reproduced in memorandum one to the minutes of the meeting as to the general machinery for co-operation. It was agreed that consideration should be given to the setting up of a small technical committee representative of the United Kingdom and the Dominions to examine these proposals.

2. We have now been able to give further consideration to this matter and it seems to us that it might be difficult to arrange immediately for a special meeting to consider the more general aspects of the questions raised since the senior officers who would be needed for the purpose could probably be ill spared at the present moment. Moreover, some of the suggestions can be, and are being put into effect while others, e.g., the suggestion for a regular meeting of ministers concerned with External Affairs, who hardly lend themselves to discussion on the official level, could be discussed separately. There are, however, certain more detailed questions connected with the defence aspects as to which, in our view, it should be possible to make progress by discussions between technical officers. We should like to suggest therefore, for your consideration, that there should be joint discussions here of certain defence matters, e.g., those set out under (A), (C), (D) and (F) [3] in the record of my statement at the 4th meeting of Prime Ministers. The object would be to examine the ideas in detail and prepare a report for consideration of the respective governments.

3. We should be glad to learn whether this proposal commends itself to you. If so, you would, no doubt, wish to consider whether your military liaison officers at present in this country could represent you, or whether you would wish to send officers specially to this country for the purpose, and if so, when they would be available.

1 In AA:A6712, 1944, Top Secret, PMM(44) 14th Meeting. For Curtin's comments on this discussion see Document 151.

2 Document 152.

3 These points dealt with the creation of a standing committee on strategy and defence; an extended system for the interchange of military staffs; the expansion of the training of U.K. and Dominion officers; and the continuation of the organisation, equipment and training of Commonwealth forces on a common model.

[AA:A5954, BOX 6]