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

Cablegram 42[A] LONDON, 9 March 1942, 9.50 p.m.


The following is referred to in my previous telegram. [1]

1. Australia is a vital base in the Pacific.

2. She must be reinforced with men and equipment.

On these assumptions-(1) the route must be kept open for the flow
of these reinforcements both by sea and air, (2) the scale and
time of arrival of these reinforcements must be determined-(a)
immediately for the defence of Australia (b) at the earliest
possible date for a counter offensive against Japan.

Is the primary direction and formulation of plans to give effect
to (1) and (2) above to be (a) in London, (b) in Washington?
The creation of the Pacific Council was designed to ensure that
the primary direction and formulation of plans would be in London.

I had hoped when the present Council was formed that the Chiefs of
Staff here would be prepared to submit for approval of the Council
definite plans which would contemplate the utilisation of United
States forces so far as necessary and that these plans would be
submitted to the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington. By this
means I hoped that more rapid planning with consequent action
would be achieved than by leaving the formulation of plans to
Washington where adequate machinery for their preparation is only
in the course of being created. These plans would no doubt have
had to be modified to conform to the availability of American
forces and to meet any objections of the United States Government
to the manner in which it was proposed to employ them. They would,
however, have provided an immediate working basis.

Experience has shown that the method I had in mind will not be
adopted here. The argument against it is that there is no adequate
information upon which to formulate strategic plans available in
London as to the present position or contemplated expansion of the
United States Naval, Land and Air Forces which would have to be
mainly employed.

In these circumstances it would appear essential that the proposal
contained in the Prime Minister's telegram to the Dominions
Office, 166 [2], should be agreed to without any delay and the
contemplated machinery put into operation in Washington


1 Document 400.

2 John Curtin's cablegram is published as Document 388.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10046]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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