238 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 364 LONDON, 8 September 1945, 2.37 p.m.

TOP SECRET

We are anxious to economise in shipping and to reduce the length of time taken to send supplies to the British Pacific Fleet and it is therefore desirable that full use should be made of the base facilities which remain at Singapore and Hong Kong and that former installations should be put into working order as soon as possible.

We propose accordingly, that the base and supply organisation of the Fleet should be moved as practicable from Australia to Singapore and Hong Kong and that the Commander-in-Chief should establish his Headquarters at Hong Kong at an early date. This would enable the Fleet to make full use of the facilities available at these ports and would result in a considerable increase in operating efficiency.

The removal of the British Pacific Fleet from Australia would of course mean a curtailment of the works and services now being carried out by the Australian authorities and would go far to relieve the strain on Australia's resources in Manpower and materials. At the same time we realise that a sudden cessation of these works would inevitably cause some dislocation in the Australian economy. We therefore contemplate that the reorganisation should be a gradual process carried out in coordination with the Australian authorities.

Subject to your comments on this proposal, I suggest that the Admiralty should communicate accordingly with Admiral Fraser who would then take action in consultation with the Australian authorities. [1]

1 Chifley agreed that the proposed changes be carried out as suggested. See cablegram 304, dispatched 21 September, in AA :

A5954, box 588.

[AA : A3195, 1945, FOLDER, TOP SECRET, INWARDS FROM SECRETARY OF STATE. D1157-3/7/45 to D2033-2/11/45, 1.28976]