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41 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram 594 [1] LONDON, 8 September 1942, 6.43 p.m.


Your telegram of 26th August, No. 407. [2]

I have consulted the Chiefs of Staff and the following are their

2. Since the despatch of the Dominions Office cablegram No. 362 of
the 6th April to which you refer [3] the situation has altered
considerably. There is no doubt that the offensive recently
undertaken by the Americans in the Solomon Islands area will do
much to contain the Japanese naval forces in the Pacific and will
therefore reduce the likelihood of an enemy sortie in strength
into the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless until operations in south-west
Pacific have developed further a Japanese incursion into the
Indian Ocean, even if only as a diversion, cannot be ruled out of

3. Our present views on the conditions in the Indian Ocean area
are as follows:-

(a) The land strength in India has steadily increased but you will
note that we have recently had to move one division and one
armoured brigade from India to the Persia-Iraq command.

(b) The flow of shore based aircraft into the Indian Ocean area
had to be held up in the Middle East when a critical situation
developed there in July and it is still not possible to release
more than a small proportion of them. We are therefore still short
of what we consider should be the minimum shore based air force
strength in the Indian Ocean theatre.

(c) Our plans for naval reinforcements of the Eastern Fleet have
had to be withheld, firstly on account of the need for
replenishing Malta and again for operations contemplated in the
near future. The present strength of the Eastern Fleet is two
modernised battleships, one aircraft carrier and a bare minimum of
cruisers and destroyers. In addition there are two of the 'R'
class [4], unmodernised and short of destroyer screen.

4. It is for the above reasons that in our view the possible
transfer of British naval forces from the Indian Ocean to the
Pacific is not yet opportune.

5. With the recent heavy losses sustained by the Royal Australian
Navy we fully realise your anxiety in this matter but for the
reasons given above no concentration of combined British and
American naval forces in the South-West Pacific Area is under
contemplation at present.

6. Administrative plans and preparations for an emergency move of
a portion of the Eastern Fleet capital ship and carrier strength
to the SouthWest Pacific Area or, in certain circumstances,
temporarily to the Atlantic and Mediterranean are, however, in
train, and the A.C.N.B. [5] is being kept informed. [6]

1 Sent through the U.K. Dominions Office.

2 Document 27.

3 See Document 27, notes 2 and 3.

4 Battleships.

5 Australian Commonwealth Naval Board.

6 Commenting on this cablegram, Bruce said: 'This matter has now
been the subject of exhaustive examination and discussion and I
see no prospect of altering the views set out in the Chiefs of
Staff Appreciation.' See cablegram 150A of 8 September on file
AA:M100, September 1942.


Memorandum by McDougall


The purpose of the United Nations is first to win the war and then
to win the peace.

To win the war we must pass from the defensive to the offensive
and utterly destroy the German and Japanese military despotisms.

To win the peace, we must, during the war, reach agreements which
will determine the pattern of the post war world.

The simultaneous prosecution of these two purposes is necessary
since the factor of political warfare can be of tremendous

President Wilson's Fourteen Points undermined the will of the
German people to continue the war and did so during a period of
German victories.

In January 1918 the German High Command, having fought the Anglo-
French offensives to a standstill and having been relieved by the
Russian revolution of all anxiety about the Eastern Front, were
preparing to attack in the West.

In March, April and June 1918 the British and French armies
suffered heavy defeats but the German people were surfeited by
barren victories; civilian morale had become affected by the
length of the war, and by the food and clothing shortages; the
nation was war weary. The effect of the Fourteen Points was to
convince the German people that there was hope for them even in an
Allied victory. The way was thus prepared for the final Allied
offensives and for the German revolution.

If, in 1918, we had relied upon military means alone and neglected
political warfare the war might well have lasted another year and
cost another million lives.

After the frustrations of 1919-1939 our political warfare must be
based upon more concrete plans than the Wilsonian Fourteen Points
or the Atlantic Charter.

We must throw energy into the winning of the war and this requires
that we simultaneously prepare to win the peace.

The vigorous prosecution of the War of Ideas is essential because:

Our own peoples need the stimulus of positive ideas if they are to
give full support for an all-out offensive effort. If we are to
save the world by democracy we must frame concrete measures to
secure [sic] that political freedom is matched by economic freedom
and legal justice by social justice. We must demonstrate how we
propose to translate the President's Four Freedoms into concrete

Further, the current fears of some business men, trade unionists
and farmers that the war production programme will be followed by
surplus capacity and unemployment is proving a psychological
obstacle to an all-out war effort. We must convince them that an
expanding world economy will bring them freedom from these fears.

Our political warfare directed towards enemy and enemy occupied
countries lacks ammunition. Those engaged upon political warfare
feel that, unless they are given more concrete information about
United Nations' intentions after victory, they are fighting with
their right arms tied behind their backs. We need a munitions
factory for the War of Ideas. The occupied countries, neutrals and
even many people in enemy countries long to know what use the
United Nations propose to make of their victory.

To win peace we must secure agreement now regarding methods of
international co-operation. If we delay until the end of the war,
we are almost certain to fail. Once the war is over, the problems
of demobilisation and of renewed competition for markets will
arouse all the nationalistic element in Parliaments and in
Congress. Shortsighted policies will be enacted. If we thus fail
to win the coming peace we shall be heading straight for World War
No. 3.

We must lighten the task of our armed forces by so waging the War
of Ideas as to inspire our own people, gain every possible ally in
every country, and weaken the will to resist of the enemy

The Time Factor
It will be for our political leaders to decide upon the favourable
moment for launching our psychological offensive. Many
considerations will have to be weighed and these must include the
fact that the process of getting ideas over to the German people
is more difficult in 1942 than it was in 1918.

The coming winter may provide the proper moment. The economy of
occupied Europe has been severely strained in order to enable the
Axis to throw all its resources into the present campaigns.

Transport systems have been overtaxed, the armies have made
excessive demands upon man power to the detriment of production,
machinery has not been replaced, there is an acute shortage of
consumer goods. Europe must face the cold with inadequate
clothing; the reserves of warm clothes were depleted by the
demands of last winter's campaigns in Russia. The oil situation
will probably demand a period of military inactivity to build up
reserves. The European harvest of 1942 is not likely to be more
than 85% of the normal and this is at a time when the war stocks
of bread grains and fats are disappearing. This winter the German
people will, for the first time, have to experience real food
shortages, along with the rest of the urban population of occupied
Europe. It is known that the Italians are heartily sick of the
war. The Germans may this winter be asking, as in 1918, what is
the use of victories that do not bring them nearer a victorious

Such conditions would create the right atmosphere for our
psychological offensive and we may need to launch this late in
November or in December.

Ammunition for the War of Ideas
If we are to be in a position to make the most of this
opportunity, we must, within the next three months, determine how
we are to give concrete meaning to some, at least, of the general
phrases of the Atlantic Charter.

Between now and the oncoming of winter we cannot hope to obtain a
United Nations front on all aspects of political and economic
reconstruction. Fortunately it is not necessary to attempt to do
so. What must be done is to obtain general agreement on our
approach to certain questions which will be of the greatest
popular interest to our own peoples, to Europe and to the world.

The common peoples of all countries are vitally concerned to know
about the provision of post war relief, the maintenance of full
employment, the assurement of adequate diets, the progressive
improvement of standards of living and the prevention of future

The peoples of backward areas, such as Southeast Europe, the Near
East, India and China, are also vitally concerned to know how the
United Nations can assist them towards better levels of economic

If, therefore, the United Nations are to place themselves in a
position to wage effective psychological warfare in the coming
winter, immediate steps must be taken to reach agreement on our
method of approach to a sufficient number of these issues to
provide the ammunition for the psychological campaigns.

Our intentions should be put forward not as American ideas and not
even as Anglo-American proposals but rather as the joint
intentions of the United Nations. This is necessary if the danger
of suggestions about American imperialism or of an Anglo-American
hegemony are to be avoided.

The Immediate Programme
There is general agreement that we must secure an expanding world
economy. This means full employment in industry and agriculture
rising standards of living. Once it is more generally realised.

that these things can be secured, the problems of balances of
payments, export markets, international competition, and the like
will appear far less formidable than if world economy is envisaged
as being in a strait-jacket.

Among the things we ought therefore to do now are:

To assess the requirements of all countries for food, if diets
adequate for health are to be attained.

To assess the requirements for housing, sanitation, etc. if
minimum standards of decency are to become possible.

To consider, in the light of this assessment, how far the
agriculture, or the industry of each country can efficiently meet
these requirements, what technical and capital assistance may be
needed, and the contribution of international trade.

To consider the special problems of the backward areas of the
world and the steps necessary to make such areas effective
contributors to the welfare of their own peoples and to general
world economy. To consider methods for dealing with such
commodities as grain, oil seeds, fats, rubber, and other raw
materials, so as to safeguard the world consumers by ensuring the
efficiency of production. We should also consider whether the
methods adopted can be made to contribute both to economic
stability and to political security. One subject which most
urgently requires our immediate joint attention is that of Food
and Agriculture.

This winter, men's minds everywhere will be concerned with food.

This will be the time for the United Nations to present to the
world the picture of how they propose, on the food front, to
secure 'Freedom from want, everywhere in the world'.

We are about to constitute a United Nations organisation for
Relief. This will deal with the most urgent needs of the immediate
post war period but we must carry straight on through
rehabilitation to reconstruction; from hunger and malnutrition
through the bare provision of relief necessities, to enabling
countries to achieve from their own agriculture or through
international trade the food requirements of abundant health.

In this way, we can also show our own farmers how their war time
efforts can be correlated with the health requirements of our own
peoples and of the rest of the world.

For countries such as the U.S.A., the U.K., and most other lands
of Western Civilisation, the goal of diets fully adequate for
health can be achieved within a few years; for other densely
populated Asiatic countries, or for backward areas, we can only
aim at a progressive approach to this practical ideal.

Food is only one of the many needs to be met if Freedom from Want
is to become real. It is, however, the most essential. It is also
a measurable factor. There are many advantages in starting the
United Nations' campaign against poverty with a realisable

Method of Progress
A method of securing immediate progress would be the establishment
of technical expert commissions for the United Nations to study
and report on some of the factors mentioned in the preceding
section. Immediate action along such lines would demonstrate to
the world that we are not thinking in terms of Relief alone but
are determined to give real meaning to the Atlantic Charter, and
to the terms of the Mutual Aid Agreements.

These technical commissions should report to an Economic Council
of the United Nations, which would take decisions based upon their
reports and decide when publicity should be given to their

Given these initial steps, the American O.W.I. [1] and the British
Ministry of Information should arrange for the widest discussion
of these issues in the press, on the radio, etc. The interest of
voluntary organisations in America, the United Kingdom and the
Dominions should be enlisted and it should be the task of those
engaged in political warfare to see that the vigorous discussion
of our aims is reflected to enemy and enemy occupied countries.

It is essential to draw the peoples of the world into the process
of discussion and this because out hope of actually achieving the
Four Freedoms [2] will depend upon the peoples wanting them

[AA:M104, 10]

1 Office of War Information.

2 In his message to Congress on 6 January 1941 Roosevelt mooted
the Lend-Lease idea and also set out his ideal of 'Four Freedoms'.

These were 'freedom of speech and expression; freedom of every
person to worship God in his own way-everywhere in the world;

freedom from want and freedom from fear'.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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