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301 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 16A LONDON, 25 January 1942, 9.30 p.m.


I feel it is desirable I should send you my personal views on
question of control in Far East and Pacific areas and Wavell's [2]
command. When the decision was taken in Washington to appoint
Wavell the idea of Allied Council sitting in Washington to whom he
would be responsible was also adopted. Subsequently it was
recognised that as Churchill and United Kingdom Government with
Chiefs of Staff would be in London and Dutch Government, with its
Service Advisers, was here United Kingdom and Dutch influence on
Far East strategy would be more effective if exercised from London
than by appointing representatives to sit on an Allied Council in
Washington who would have to take their instructions from London.

When this was recognised the proposal for the special body
composed of United Kingdom, Dutch, Australian and New Zealand
representatives referred to in 12 of 19th January [3] was evolved
and was submitted to you without proper explanation as to the
reason for adopting this procedure in place of the original
proposal for an Allied Council in Washington.

In my view it provides a better method than an Allied Council in
Washington of ensuring a full recognition of the importance of the
Far East and the Pacific and the development in these areas of a
sound and progressive strategy in the formulation and
implementation of which Australia will have an effective voice. My
reasons for this view are:-

A. Lead on policy and strategy must come from one or other of
great Powers concerned, i.e. United Kingdom or United States of

B. United Kingdom more promising as United States of America has
as yet no war experience and her naval policy and thought
notoriously timid and conservative.

C. United Kingdom will need stimulating in leadership in Far East.

D. This stimulus can best be applied here where Government and
particularly Churchill can be worked on and Chiefs of Staff are
available. United Kingdom representatives in Washington whether
political or Service would be only second strings acting on
instructions from here.

E. Dutch Government are strongly in favour of the proposal.

F. Australia can co-operate more effectively here with Dutch in
influencing United Kingdom, owing to Dutch Government with its
Service Advisers being located here. My contacts with Dutch are
excellent and would be strengthened if contemplated exchange of
Ministers takes place.

As I see it real drive and direction in regard to Far East must
come either from Washington or here. In my view best results will
be obtained if it comes from here.

If this is adopted it will be for Casey [4] and his Service
Advisers, Dill [5] and those associated with him on Chiefs of
Staff Committee and Dutch representatives in Washington to bring
United States of America Administration and Chiefs of Staff into

Imperative question should be settled immediately. Present
proposals have been agreed between President [6] and Prime
Minister. [7] To get them altered even if it were possible would
involve time which cannot be afforded.


1 See editorial note before Document 294.

2 Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area.

3 This appears to be an incorrect reference to cablegram 72,
published as Document 283.

4 Minister to the United States.

5 Leader of the U.K. Joint Staff Mission in Washington.

6 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

7 Winston Churchill.

[AA:A2937, A.B.D.A. STRATEGIC AREA, 1941-1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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