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354 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 182 CANBERRA, 20 December 1943

MOST SECRET

Your 220 [1] and 221 [2] of 17th and 18th November.

PART I

After full consideration of the views put forward by the Air
Ministry concerning the proposed transfer to Australia of R.A.A.F.

squadrons and R.A.A.F. personnel with R.A.F. squadrons [3], the
following views are furnished:-

A. Further training of aircrew should be limited to the number
required for the R.A.A.F. development for service in the South-
West Pacific Area and for the maintenance of R.A.A.F. squadrons
including Article XV [4] squadrons serving overseas. It is
estimated that this will require an output of 350 per month for
R.A.A.F. in South-West Pacific Area and 360 per month for R.A.A.F.

units serving overseas. Continuance at this rate will be dependent
on the availability of recruits which is uncertain.

The requirements of the R.A.A.F. in South-West Pacific Area to
have priority over the supply of aircrew for R.A.A.F. squadrons
overseas. To meet this commitment, the aircrew to be called up in
Australia must be of the order of 1,000 per month, which is 400
per month below the original commitment under the existing
Agreement.

Recent intakes of aircrew, however, have been considerably below
the required 1,000 per month, and in order to achieve the numbers,
it would be necessary to obtain approximately 450 per month from
Army sources, subject to replacement by new recruits from R.A.A.F.

allocation of new enlistments. The question of releases from the
Army is now under review. It is hoped to reach finality shortly
when it will be possible to indicate the extent to which we will
be able to continue the outflow of personnel under the Empire Air
Training Scheme.

B. Regarding the transfer of further R.A.A.F. squadrons from
overseas, the view of the Government as set out in Cable No. 267
of 8th October [5] has not been varied.

It is agreed that Lancaster squadrons would be of the most value.

It is appreciated that the return of R.A.A.F. units overseas,
including Article XV squadrons, would present difficulties to
R.A.F. and that of any squadrons returned, it will be necessary to
select those whose role and equipment are suitable for employment
in this theatre. Moreover, Australia would be required to make up
deficiencies in ground staff in these squadrons.

In order that this could be arranged, it would be necessary for
the squadrons to be made available in a manner and at a rate that
fitted in-with planned developments of the striking force in this
theatre; otherwise we would be embarrassed on account of the
limited numbers of ground staff available to the R.A.A.F. and the
necessary training of these personnel before they could be
employed in operational units.

C. If the United Kingdom Government cannot see its way clear to
provide aircraft for R.A.A.F. units to return to Australia, they
would no doubt agree for the British Chiefs of Staff, acting
through the Combined Chiefs of Staff, to strongly support our bids
for aircraft from U.S.A.

PART II

The following statement of R.A.A.F. personnel providing services
for United States Forces is forwarded for your information:-

A. Direct services, in aircraft erection and maintenance, signals
and communications, fighter sectors, M/T [6] drivers -Total 920.

B. Joint and reciprocal services, signals and communications, air
transport control, works units-Total 7,325.

C. Joint services in which division between R.A.A.F. and United
States Forces is not possible, meteorological services, radar
organisation, intelligence, air transport, operational base staffs
and convoy organisation.

It will be seen that only a comparatively small number of R.A.A.F.

staffs would be relieved by provision of U.S.A. personnel. The
possibility of reducing certain of these services is now being
taken up with General MacArthur.

PART III

The Government has now agreed to the development of the R.A.A.F.

in Australia to 53 squadrons by December, 1944. [7] This is
exclusive of three R.A.F. Spitfire squadrons, and two Netherlands
East Indies squadrons, for which we will be required to provide
ground staffs.

In the meantime, an expanded return of aircrew with operational
experience as a nucleus of new squadrons to form in this area
should be sought. Approximately 50 per cent of aircrew required
for units to form in 1944 might be provided in this way. Return of
ground staff should be of the order of 100 per month, according to
length of service and without replacement.

In view of our inability to replace any ground staff personnel now
overseas, no prospect can be seen of providing any relief for them
unless they can be withdrawn progressively without replacement
from here.

Subject to further consideration regarding the Torpedo/Bomber and
Fleet Co-operation Squadrons [8], the proposed composition of the
force is as follows:-

General Reconnaissance/Bomber 9
Torpedo/Bomber 1
General Reconnaissance/Flying Boat 5
Heavy Bomber 7
Intercepter/Fighter 12
Attack 7
Photographic Reconnaissance 1
Army Co-operation 2
Fleet Co-operation 1
Transport Land 6
Transport Sea 2

Total 53

Details of the aircraft for which bids are to be made at the
allocation conference at Washington in December have already been
forwarded to Williams. This is to be for endorsement by General
MacArthur.

CURTIN

1 Document 329.

2 Dispatched 18 November. On file AA:A816, 31/301/301.

3 See files AA:A816, 31/301/301 and AA:A2671, 457/1943.

4 See Document 329, note 3.

5 Document 293.

6 i.e. motor transport.

7 See War Cabinet minute 3180 of 24 November in AA:A2673, vol. 14.

8 MacArthur had queried the necessity of these squadrons. See his
letter to Curtin of 28 November on the file cited in note 2.


[AA:A816, 31/301/301]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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