Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 13[A] LONDON, 26 January 1945, 7.37 p.m.


The forthcoming meeting of the Big Three, which is now imminent, has for some time been causing me considerable concern. So far as I am aware no information has been sent to you even by the method of a Prime Minister to Prime Minister telegram giving you an indication of the subjects likely to be discussed and the line which the Prime Minister proposes to take with regard to them. [1] This is embarrassing for us as there will certainly be a number of questions discussed at the meeting which are of vital concern to Australia.

While one can indicate the probable subjects that will be dealt with and can give you some indication of the trend of thought here upon them, including in some cases the recommendations embodied in papers that have been prepared on the departmental level, not even the members of the War Cabinet here know the line the Prime Minister will take when they are under discussion. This is particularly true in respect to all matters concerning the prosecution of the war. As clearly plans for the conduct of the war in the Pacific will be a major preoccupation of the conference, Australia is again placed in a position similar to that prior to the Cairo and Quebec meetings.

While the issues that will have to be determined in respect to the Pacific and Far East will be present to your mind, I would emphasise the following:

(1) Possible re-arrangement of commands between Nimitz, MacArthur and Mountbatten.

(2) Direction of future operations in the South West Pacific Area- MacArthur in his drive to the Philippines having reached the northern limit of his command.

(3) Employment of the British fleet under Bruce Fraser.

(4) Employment of Dutch, French and even Portuguese forces for the reconquest of their respective territories with possible demands on Australia for assistance in accommodation, equipment and supplies.

(5) The part to be played by Australian air, sea and land forces in implementing the strategy agreed.

It is clearly intolerable that we should be faced with a series of faits accomplis but this would appear to be what is again going to happen.

The future of Germany, Soviet-Polish relations, Yugoslavia, Greece, and, in fact, the Balkan problem in its widest aspects, the basis of world organisation, in addition to the conduct of the war, are some of the subjects which are certain to be considered.

The question of Russo-Japanese relations may also arise.

While the need for maintaining the utmost secrecy is, I recognise, imperative, it should not extend to consultation on the highest level with Dominion Governments.

I suggest for your consideration, if, indeed, you have not already done so, that a telegram from yourself to the Prime Minister reminding him of Australia’s vital concern in the questions to be discussed at the meeting would be most valuable. [2]


1 In cablegram D176, dispatched 30 January, Cranborne listed some probable agenda items. On file AA:A1066, H45/1016/4.

2 Curtin replied that there was little point in repeating views already expressed to the U.K. Govt, the more when repetition might cause misunderstandings with Churchill. See his cablegram 31, dispatched 8 February, on file AA:M100, February 1945.


[AA: A5954, BOX 577]