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Historical documents

6 Dixon to Eggleston

Letter WASHINGTON, 13 July 1942

Many thanks for your letter of 10th June [1] enclosing your letter

to Sir Earle Page. [2]

I have never had enough information to form any reasoned judgment

about the causes of the disasters in Singapore and Burmah and my

instinctive forebodings springing from such isolated facts as I

have learned from trustworthy sources are of a kind that it is

better to suppress. In considering the Allied central organization

for the conduct of the war, it is, I think, necessary to

distinguish between the past and the present. Up till very

recently London was, I believe, the centre controlling world

strategy: now I think that it is Washington. It is here that the

Combined Chiefs of Staff meet-and here that the order of battle

for each theatre is settled and it is here that the primary

allocation of the pooled production is decided and the detailed

allocation of the United States production takes place. of course

the Chiefs of Staff in London exert a powerful influence. I am not

in a position to assess the part played by Roosevelt and


The first I have now seen a number of times; my first-hand

knowledge of the second is confined to one day. But I am inclined

to the view that neither plays such an original or such a dominant

part as in Australia we were led to suppose. When there has been

an opposition between the professional advice of the services and

political exigencies or considerations of a mixed nature, as in

the cases of Greece, and of convoys to Murmansk, the decision has

been that of the Prime Minister and the President. But I think

that now at all events it is the professional advisers who mould

the strategical opinion of the governments. Once a theatre of war

is put under American control, there is a great reluctance on the

part of the British Chiefs of Staff to raise questions about what

is being done and this, though to a less extent, is true in the

converse case.

To my mind the fundamental cause of all our troubles is the simple

fact that the enemy continues to have a marked superiority in arms

and trained troops in all theatres. The cry for aeroplanes comes

in from every commander and day by day attempts are made to find

planes to help this or that command or theatre. In the planning,

how to divide a deficiency is always the question. of course

production is expanding rapidly now.

I am by no means satisfied with the central organization for the

control of the war on the part of the Allies, and I don't really

know whose are the decisive minds. Indeed I cannot feel that

operation of mind in action of which I think you are always

conscious when powerful intelligences are directing events. Much

of the organization is just a facade forming part of the make-

believe which democratic governments seem to find indispensable.

But I doubt whether any attempt to improve the organization

existing now would lead to anything more satisfactory.

There is no lack of interest either in Australia or in China. The

President continually reverts to the question of China and T. V.

Soong [3] is active. But it always appears to me to come back to

the question of arms, trained troops and transport. General plans

are, I know, made with much consideration and care though the

soldiers seldom allow us to know with any accuracy what exactly

they are, but the urgent necessity repeatedly arising of meeting

desperate demands from one threatened front after another makes me

very sceptical about the practical value of the general plans.

Naturally I feel very anxious about Australia's position.

MacArthur's representations have some weight and so do those of

our government, but it remains very difficult to obtain what we

should have. We are sticking to the question and I am glad to say

we are receiving the support of Sir John Dill who is one of the

Combined Chiefs of Staff

I hope this letter is not too depressing but at present I feel the

difficulties and the want of a solution.


1 Not found.

2 Eggleston's letter of 9 June to Page (formerly Special

Representative in the United Kingdom) is on file AA:A4144, 608


3 Chinese Foreign Minister.

[AA:A4144, 608 (1942-43)]

Last Updated: 2 February 2011
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