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106 Shedden to Wilson

Letter MELBOURNE, 1 April 1944


The Admiral [1] saw the Prime Minister this morning regarding the
variation of the intake into the R.A.N. to enable additional ships
to be manned. Before the Prime Minister saw him, he promised me
that he would not take any decision, and I furnished him with the
attached note of 31st March [2] relative to intakes. After the
Conference, the Admiral said that the Prime Minister had promised
to discuss the matter with Ministers next week.

2. I told the Admiral that I thought he was prejudicing whatever
merits his case might have by the way he was rushing the matter
and by following such an unusual procedure. [3] He agreed with
this view and said that all that he had asked the Prime Minister
was that he should keep the door open to take up the matter in
London, if it were ultimately decided to do so.

3. When the Prime Minister and I discussed the matter, we both
attached great importance to cablegram 267 of 8th October [4] to
the United Kingdom Government, relative to the re-balancing of the
war effort, to which we have not received any reply. The Prime
Minister went so far as to say that if Mr. Churchill did not
choose to reply to his representations about the concentration of
the Australian war effort in the Southwest Pacific by the return
of naval crews and R.A.A.F. squadrons, he certainly was not going
to adopt such a humble attitude as to offer him gifts by manning
additional ships. As you know from my minute of 23rd March [5], an
R.N. squadron is in the Indian Ocean awaiting transfer to the
Pacific, but this has not apparently been agreed to so far by the

4. Furthermore, the Prime Minister says that he must discuss the
war effort from all angles and ascertain whether food will be the
most effective contribution after a military effort of a certain
size, in which event we must get a solution of the problem of
manpower for the primary industries. This, of course, is wrapped
up with the consideration of the further report of the War
Commitments Committee [6] and the review of the Defence Committee.

weighed and this will take a lot of time and consideration.

5. In my opinion, therefore, it is quite wrong to take a hasty
decision about the acceptance of additional liabilities for any of
the Services, until we can see the whole picture clearly. You will
observe from my note of 31st March that, though the monthly
allotment for the Services is 5,000 men and women, this figure has
not been reached during any of the four months ending February.

6. You will observe in regard to the minute [8] signed by the
Commander-in-Chief, the Chief of the Naval Staff and the Chief of
the General Staff that the re-allocation is contingent on the
United Kingdom making available further ships, which is a far
different question from the Government deciding the thing as a
matter of policy after the all-in review to which I have referred.

7. I hope the foregoing will assist you to keep the matter on the
right lines.

[AA:A5954, BOX 657}

1 Admiral Sir Guy Royle.

2 Not published.

3 A reference in part to Royle's representations to the Advisory
War Council. See AWC minute 1322 of 21 March in AA:A2682, vol. 7.

4 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI,
Document 293.

5 See Shedden's minute to Curtin, on file AA:A5954, box 657.

6 Dated 19 February. On file AA:A2671, 80/1944.

7 Dated March 1944. On the file cited in note 5.

8 Dated 25 March. On the file cited in note 5. It appears
Shedden's reference to the Commander-in-Chief should have read the
Chief of the Air Staff.

[7] I should say off-hand that there are many factors to be
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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