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444 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram E4 LONDON, 26 March 1942


Your telegram No.44. [1] I entirely agree with your views as set
out in paragraph 3 and I feel that too much emphasis cannot be
laid upon the vital importance of immediate as against future
deliveries. The problem however is how to achieve this. The
shipping available is the vital consideration.

At the end of my telegram of to-day's date [2] I have asked for
your views as to the provision of shipping in relation to supplies
from the United States. In the light of your reply we can
determine what further releases we should press the United Kingdom
to make from their allocation in the United States.

With regard to shipping from here total space available in vessels
sailing up to early May already allocated in respect to aircraft
and while limited amount of space still not taken up for other
types of munitions, amount available beyond that necessary for
deliveries of vital war requirements already in sight will be, if
any, only fractional.

In view of this position additional ships would have to be placed
on the berth if flow is to be augmented. Even this would not meet
the aircraft situation to any material extent as the only
operational type we are drawing from the United Kingdom is the

Unfortunately the Beaufighter can only be carried on the larger
type of vessel and the maximum number that can be taken is four
even by the largest type and the average would probably be only
three. This fact is the explanation of the apparent slow shipment
referred to in paragraph (1) of your telegram. it also suggests
the necessity for some reconsideration of Australia's
concentration on the Beaufighter, and of the order recently sent
for 432, which even if they were available could only be shipped
over an extremely long period. Incidentally the deliveries of our
original order are not behind schedule as the whole 54 will be
shipped within the stipulated period. Possibly something
substantial could be done in other directions e.g. Spitfires or
Hurricanes but the present Government policy under which we are
operating is to draw these types from America and not create
complicated organisation and maintenance problems by introducing
different types.

With regard to your paragraph (2) we have to be guided here by the
instructions received from the Air Board in Australia. Up to date
the Air Ministry has co-operated satisfactorily and we have been
able to give effect without difficulty to these instructions.

While I am doing everything I can to get for Australia the maximum
of assistance at the earliest possible moment I am in difficulty
in seeing any big scale proposition that I can put forward and
press Churchill to accept. I am continuing however to explore
every possibility.

Best regards and I hope you will come on here as soon as you feel
you can be spared from Washington.


1 Document 443.

2 Document 441.

[AA:M100, MARCH 1942]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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