Skip to main content

Historical documents

293 Report of Discussions between Service Officers and Hasluck

20 September 1944


In Minute No. 297/1944 [2], the Defence Committee considered the
proposal by the Department of External Affairs that an officer
from that Department should discuss, with officers of the
Department of Defence and the Services, military aspects of Post-
Hostilities Planning and of proposals for World Organization. It
was agreed that each Chief of Staff should appoint an officer to
consider Defence Committee Agendum No. 184/1944 [3] with the
officers appointed by the other Chiefs of Staff, and that
arrangements should be made for the Officer-in-Charge of the Post-
Hostilities Division of the Department of External Affairs to meet
these officers together. These Service officers should form a
committee to report to the Defence Committee on these matters.

2. Discussions took place with Mr. P. Hasluck, Department of
External Affairs, on the 19th and 20th September, the following
Service officers being present:

Navy-Commander G. G. O. Gatacre
Army-Lieutenant-Colonel A. A. Conlon
Lieutenant-Colonel J. R. Kerr
Air-Wing-Commander V. S. Vincent.

The Chief of the Air Staff and Mr P. E. Coleman, Department of
Defence, were also present during the discussions. The Committee's
report is contained in the following paragraphs.

3. The Committee examined in detail Section 8 of the draft
recommendations from the Dumbarton Oaks Conference regarding
arrangements to be made within the proposed world organization for
the maintenance of peace and security (Telegram D.1338 [4]). At
the same time, it had in mind the invitation given by the Prime
Minister of New Zealand for an early conference on matters arising
out of the Australia - New Zealand Agreement (Telegram 151 [5]
from the Prime Minister of New Zealand) and the request made by
the Department of External Affairs in its memorandum of 8th
September [6] that further attention might be given to the
armistices and armistice control machinery in the Far East.

4. It was represented to the Committee by the representative of
the Department of External Affairs that there was an immediate
(a) to advise the Government at an early date whether or not there
were any military objections to the Government's assenting to the
terms of the Dumbarton Oaks draft;

(b) to complete within the next fortnight a preliminary
examination of the matters related to defence and security,
armistices and postarmistice control likely to arise at the
Wellington Conference.

It was stated that the Wellington Conference might take place as
early as the middle of October.

5. Questions relating to the armistices and armistice control
machinery were not considered in detail, it being understood that
these would come before the Post-Hostilities Planning Committee
now being set up by the Defence Committee, and that the
representative of the Department of External Affairs would have an
early opportunity of discussing such questions with the Post-
Hostilities Planning Committee.

6. The Committee suggest that among the matters which should be
covered by the discussions referred to in para. 5 are the

(a) the co-ordination of Australian and New Zealand post-
hostilities planning as envisaged in Clause 11 of the Australia -
New Zealand Agreement, including the exchange of plans and
documents and joint staff arrangements for consideration of post-
hostilities planning problems;

(b) the selection of matters of special interest to Australia and
New Zealand, which after the Conference should receive the
continual attention of their respective Post-Hostilities
Committees, e.g.

(i) inter-allied machinery comparable to European Advisory
Commission for consultation as between Governments on armistice
terms for the Par East and the structure and representative
character of armistice control machinery;

(ii) Australian and New Zealand views on Armistice terms and
Armistice Control Machinery; and particularly on such Armistice
terms as-
Return of prisoners of war and Internees;

Disarmament of Japan and Thailand and disposal of arms, equipment,
shipping, and other war material of the enemy.

(iii) Participation of Australian and New Zealand personnel in
Civil Affairs arrangements for the Far East during the period of
military occupation;

(iv) Participation of Australian and New Zealand personnel in
garrisoning and for policing enemy territory after the Armistices.

7. The representative of the Department of External Affairs
referred to developments since the Australia - New Zealand
Conference of January, 1944, particularly the proposals for a
World Organization, and asked that in preparation for discussions
at Wellington, consideration might be given during the next
fortnight to the following matters-
(a) In what respects, if any, does the Defence Committee wish in
the light of developments to amplify its report of Defence
Committee Minute No. 2/1944 [7] relative to the defence of the
Southwest Pacific Region, particularly as regards the sections of
the report dealing with the following aspects-
(i) the strategical location of forces;

(ii) the strength of forces available for defence of the island

(iii) the policy of achieving security by a synthesis of national
defence, empire co-operation and international security.

(b) the relationship of the proposal in the Australia - New
Zealand Agreement for a regional defence zone (Clause 13) to
proposals for regional arrangements as part of the World
Organization (Clause 8(c) of Dumbarton Oaks Draft);

(c) arrangements in accordance with Clause 35(a) of the Australia
- New Zealand Agreement for co-operation for defence; and the
desirability of and machinery for early joint-staff discussions on
matters raised-
(i) in Clause 35(a); and
(ii) in connection with the military aspects of World

(d) Suggestions regarding items to be discussed under the Security
and Defence Section of the Agenda at the Wellington Conference.

The view of the Committee was that these were matters which should
be brought before the Defence Committee for consideration.

8. It is suggested that the work done as a matter of urgency under
the above paragraphs might merge in due course with the more
comprehensive studies to be undertaken by the Post-Hostilities
Planning Committee of the Defence Committee.

9. The greater part of the time of the Committee was devoted to an
examination of Section 8 of the Dumbarton Oaks draft

The Committee considers that there are no objections on military
grounds to assenting to sub-sections A and D of Section 8 and to
paragraphs 1 to 4 and 7 to 11 of sub-section B of Section 8. The
Committee sees no objection to the proposal in para. 9 of sub-
section B setting up a military staff committee, assuming that the
Australian Services are kept advised by the British Service
Representatives of developments on the Military Staff Committee,
but it considers that the circumstances under which Australia
should be invited to be associated with the work of the Committee
should be further examined before any military commitment is

Paragraph 5 of sub-section B, which concerns the contribution of
forces, bases or facilities from national resources, calls for
further examination. The procedure envisaged in the draft is that
in clue course an agreement or agreements will be negotiated
between member nations to govern these matters, and, therefore, it
is suggested that the examination of the military aspects of the
problem might proceed with the definite objective of reaching an
agreed opinion regarding the Australian interests to be served in
such agreements. In the meantime, there would appear to be no
objection to assenting to the paragraph. Of the alternative drafts
put forward regarding the establishment of bases, the Committee
prefers the one proposed by the United Kingdom and United States.

Paragraph 6 of sub-section B [8] also requires further
examination. Of the three alternative drafts, the Committee
prefers the British draft at this stage, because it affords
opportunity for further consideration of the question, but it is
considered that as an ultimate objective, the United States draft
is preferable.

Some of the objections to the Russian proposal would be-
(a) International controversies would arise on such matters as
command, location, composition and maintenance (see para. 7 of the
U.K. Memorandum C-Security [9]).

(b) The International Air Force would probably disintegrate at a
time of crisis owing to the National components of the Force
taking opposite sides in the current dispute (particularly if
their respective countries were concerned).

(c) The disinclination of a State to make available its latest
developments and inventions on aircraft and equipment for the
common knowledge and usage of the international Force.

With regard to the whole of the proposals for an international air
force, it is pointed out that a land-based international air force
would not be effective as a striking force in the Pacific; and in
such ocean areas, it would have to be carrier-borne.

Sub-section C (Regional arrangements) is still not agreed upon by
Britain, U.S. & U.S.S.R., and calls for further examination (see
also para. 7(b) above).

Sub-section E, (Interim arrangements) calls for further
examination, particularly in conjunction with Clause 15, of the
Australia - New Zealand Agreement.

10. The Committee discussed at length the lines on which the
further examination of the Dumbarton Oaks Draft and of related
matters might proceed, and reached the following conclusions:-

(a) That it is impossible to indicate at this stage what armed
forces, facilities and assistance could be made available under
the terms of an agreement negotiated pursuant to Clause 8(B)(5) of
the Dumbarton Oaks Draft. The answer to this question is dependent
upon knowledge of the size, structure and general task of the
armed forces of the Commonwealth in the post-war world, number and
location of bases to be maintained from national resources and the
structure of the Australian post-war supply and defence
industries. Government policy on any of these matters has not yet
been communicated to the Services.

(b) As to size, structure and general task of the armed forces,
preparation of Service plans in this field depends upon some
indication of Government policy with regard to the finance to be
available for the post-war forces and an indication by the
Government of the national purposes to be served by the armed
forces in the post-war world.

(c) As to number and location of bases-this is dependent upon
policy decisions as to the defence task and the finance available
to carry it out.

(d) As to the structure of post-war supply and defence industries,
the Committee invites attention to the fact the present war has
shown that Australia's strategical position and resources make it
likely that the Commonwealth will in any future war in this area
again be an important base for operations. In negotiating any
agreement under Clause 8(B)(5), attention should therefore be
given to this problem in connection with the 'facilities and
assistance' which the Commonwealth might agree to make available.

This raises the important question of the extent to which
Australia's defence industries should be maintained and developed,
pursuant to any such agreement.

(e) The above matters require attention at two levels:-

(i) An indication is necessary from the Government of policy in
the several fields outlined; and
(ii) Detailed planning by the Services and Departments concerned
with defence and foreign policy, finance, supply and defence

The Service representative stressed that the important limiting
factor is finance, and that until some indication is given by the
Government on this head, it will be impossible to come to final
conclusions about commitments to the World Organization. 11. The
Committee expressed the view that developments in connection with
Clauses 8(B)(5), (13)(6), and (C) and (E) should receive the
urgent and continued attention of the appropriate Post-Hostilities
Planning Authorities to be set up.

12. After completion of this report, the Committee received
telegrams 874 and 884 [10] from Washington reporting the
probability of a breakdown of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. It is
recognized that while this will defer the prospective
international conference on World Organization, it does not lessen
the necessity for examining the issues raised above. [11]

Navy Representative

Army Representatives

Air Representative

1 Document 26.

2 Dated 15 September. In AA:A2031, vol. 13.

3 Dated 11 September. On file AA:A5799, 184/1944.

4 Dispatched 12 September. On file AA:A989, 44/630/5/1/11/5. The
U.K. proposals were on most points similar to those agreed to by
the U.K., U.S. and Soviet representatives at Dumbarton Oaks. See
Document 311. The substance of sub-sections D and E of section 8
of the U.K. proposals was incorporated in an altered form in Ch.

12 of the Dumbarton Oaks proposals.

5 Document 268.

6 On file AA:A816, 146/301/1.

7 Dated 5 January. In AA:A2031, vol. 12.

8 Paragraph 6 of sub-section B contained alternative U.K., U.S.

and Soviet drafts on the nature of a proposed international air

9 See Document 48 for the list of memoranda A to E.

10 Dispatched 16 and 17 September, respectively. On the file cited
in note 6.

11 This report was submitted by the Secretary of the Defence
Committee, Douglas I. Menzies, on 26 September.

[AA:A5954, BOX 1821]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top