196 Attlee to Chifley

Cablegram 102 LONDON, 24 May 1947, 11 p.m.


Your telegram No. 111 of 6th May.

I should like to say how greatly we welcome this approach and how anxious we are to give all the help we can. it is as you know our view that Commonwealth defence will be greatly strengthened if responsibility for research and development is shared as widely as possible between all the countries of the Commonwealth. Your decision makes it possible to attain this object more quickly.

2. In particular our experts would like to discuss with yours as soon as possible an accelerated programme for the development of guided and air launched weapons. We should also like you to consider the design of small unmanned experimental aircraft capable to sub-sonic speeds and eventually of super-sonic speeds.

3. A large programme in these directions would necessarily involve research in the field of radar and particularly of radio valve design and manufacture.

4. Further suggestions at this stage are:-

(a) The design of high velocity and short range rockets as substitutes for field army weapons (e.g. anti-tank and field artillery weapons). We attach great importance to this.

(b) To develop methods of rapid construction of ships particularly of the escort vessel type.

(c) Chemical and medical research into the possibility of reducing the bulk of essential foods.

5. In addition there are most important fields of extramural research on which we should welcome the assistance of Australian Universities.

6. One matter of the greatest importance to the Army is to increase substantially the cross-country mobility of all kinds of vehicles. We have made little progress in this direction. New ideas are called for.

7. If these ideas appeal to you we suggest that you might send suitable experts to this country to discuss them in detail.

Alternatively we will send experts to Australia if you prefer.

Policy can also be discussed at the meeting of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on defence science which we hope to hold in London in November next. In the meantime any points of detail which you wished to pursue might be taken up by your advisers with Sir Henry Tizard. [1]

1 Chairman, Defence Research Policy Committee, UK Ministry of Defence.

[AA: A3195,1947,1.10436]