198 Beavis to Shedden

Minute [MELBOURNE], 17 July 1947

TOP SECRET

PROGRAMME OF TESTS FOR LONG RANGE WEAPONS RANGE IN AUSTRALIA

With reference to the letter of Lieutenant-General Evetts to you dated 4th July, 1947 [1], which I return herewith, and copy of the latest programme of tests to be carried out in Australia, I attach a summary showing the comparison between the original programme communicated to you by Lieut.-General Evetts on 21St March, 1947- this programme dated January 1947 having been brought out from the Ministry of Supply by Mr.Butement [2] and the programme forwarded by Lieut.-General Evetts to you on 4th July-this programme resulting from a Ministry of Supply Conference held on 29th May, 1947.

2. I have underlined in red the guided missile tests, and in blue the tests for the bombing range. The Controlled Bombs come within the category of guided weapons, but will be tested on the bombing range. Although proposals were considered for a special bombing range in the neighbourhood of Adelaide, the latest proposal is that the bombing range should be in the vicinity of Woomera.

3. It will be noted that the proposals for guided missile trials have been put back, the earliest now being in June 1949, instead of late in 1947. I have included brief remarks in the summary relating to certain of the tests.

4. The position in the United Kingdom, broadly speaking, is that the stage of coordinated research and development has only recently been reached. To a large degree, work has followed on the results of German experience, learned after the end of the war, progress has been affected by the loss of scientists, and only recently has the work on the Air and Munitions (or Army) sides of the Ministry of Supply been organised with the object of avoiding duplication and uneconomic effort.

it will be necessary to plan the development of facilities in accordance with the new programme. [The present construction programme is unlikely to be completed for 12 months or more, and it is desirable this should be completed in advance rather than so late as to delay tests of equipment.] [3] It should be noted that the Australian range may be used earlier than set out in the 29th May Programme, if difficulties are experienced in undertaking the proposed trials in the United Kingdom.

6. In a preliminary discussion with Mr. Gardner, Director of Guided Weapons Research and Development, Ministry of Supply, on 9th July, he suggested that consideration might be given to a plan for carrying out parallel work to some degree in Australia during the next few years. The proposal is that we might manufacture certain of the test vehicles or weapons, in order to increase our manufacturing knowledge and capacity, to improve the overall rate of supply, and also to carry out tests with the equipment in order to develop a background of knowledge and experience to facilitate the changeover of the activities from the United Kingdom to Australia. if effect be given to this proposal, then the range may be used for guided missiles earlier than set out in 29th May Programme. Also, plans regarding equipment for observation of supersonic missiles are far from complete, and it is possible that useful work could be done in Australia in the field of development of Right observation equipment and techniques, in parallel with similar work in the United Kingdom.

7. General Evetts states-'whilst this new programme looks at first sight very different from the original version, it is virtually the same as regards the requirements; firstly, for a bomb ballistics range as soon as possible, and secondly for a range of 300 miles in three years'. The programme is the same for the broad requirements stated, but is very different in the phased programme of tests for guided missiles.

8. It would appear that, until the Joint Body is set up in London to consider and report on the programme of work and major projects, the position regarding policy control will not be entirely satisfactory. Commitments on construction and staff depend on decisions regarding these. As you know, Brigadier Nurse [4] has been pressing for action in London in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Prime Minister's Cable No.78 of 28th March, and I attach an extract from a letter from him indicating the progress being made.

9. I propose to discuss matters relating to the position outlined with Mr. Gardner when he returns to Melbourne. Probably you may wish to discuss some of them with him.

1 Evetts had assured Shedden that although the UK Ministry of Supply's revised weapons project program appeared significantly different, the range construction program should not be altered.

2 W.A.S. Butement, Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Superintendent, Long Range Weapons Establishment.

3 The words in square brackets were added in what appears to be Beavis's handwriting.

4 Brigadier H.S. Nurse, Australian Inter-Service Technical Officer, London.

[AA : A5954/1, 856/2]