169 Hollis to Shedden

Letter LONDON, 10 March 1947


I have been thinking how we can make the new defence liaison arrangements really effective. The Dominion Liaison Officers are now beginning to arrive in London and I am really anxious that we here should give them a good send-off.

The first essential, to my mind, to give real life to the liaison arrangements is that we here should treat the Dominion Liaison Officers in London with complete frankness. By this I mean that we should show them all our Planning and Intelligence papers and give them a complete insight into the way our minds are working on the Staff level. Anything less than this will, in my view, merely mean that the tie-up between the U.K. and the Dominions is a facade.

Some of the older hands, e.g. Hankey [1] and Chatfield [2], are bemoaning the superseding of the old Committee of Imperial Defence by our present day Defence Committee. They argue that the old C.I.D. provided the machinery for Dominion defence co-operation.

In point of fact, we know perfectly well that this was not the case. At any rate the C.I.D. system whereby High Commissioners attended occasional meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence is not, in my opinion, adaptable to present day requirements.

The real point, however, on which I seek your advice and help is as follows. If we here are going to give Dominion liaison officers a real insight into the way our minds are working on the Staff level, it does not seem to me that this information will be much use to them unless they can pass it on to their respective Chiefs of Staff. Is it possible to do this and at the same time keep the information on the Staff level? You will, I am sure, appreciate the difficulty of this. If, for example, we put the Dominion liaison officers fully into the picture as to how we are thinking about our long term future defence policy, and this information reaches Dominion Ministers before our own Ministers in the United Kingdom have been in on the matter, we shall be in for trouble.

Similarly, if Dominion Chiefs of Staff were to tell us in London, on the Staff level, how they were thinking, and this information came out on the Governmental level here, the flow of information from the Dominions would immediately dry up.

Would the solution be, as far as Australia is concerned, if your liaison officers in London were to pass on any information to their respective Chiefs of Staff through you? I take it that in any case communications from London to Australia by the Commonwealth Liaison Officers would come to you. I should feel perfectly happy to know that you were the guardian of any material sent by Commonwealth Liaison Officers in London which had not reached the Ministerial level at this end. Similarly, any information imparted by the Australian Chiefs of Staff to the U.K.

liaison officers in Australia could be sent to the Secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee here, or to me personally, whichever was considered more convenient. Will you please let me know what you think of this arrangement?

[matter omitted]

1 Lord Hankey; (as Sir Maurice Hankey) Secretary, UK Cabinet, 1919-38, and Committee of Imperial Defence, 1912-38 2 Lord Chatfield, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, 1933-38.

[AA: A5954/1,1847/1]