Addison to Chifley

Cablegram D2214 LONDON, 11 December 1945, 9.15 p.m.


My telegram 22nd November D.2138. [1]

We have now given preliminary consideration to the United States request and the following represent our provisional views.

(a) It is clearly to our advantage and, indeed on particular grounds is of the highest importance, to take advantage of Mr.

Byrnes’ approach in order to associate the United States to the maximum extent in the defence of British Commonwealth territory.

It appears that the United States envisage dealing on a joint basis with at least a number of places in British territory where bases are being sought (full particulars of the actual United States requests are contained in my immediately following telegram [2]).

(b) As against this, Mr. Byrnes apparently contemplates concluding arrangements in advance of the international system of security under the United Nations Charter though apparently he envisages that all bases acquired thereunder would be made available to the Security Council on its call. This is clearly open to very serious objection. It is of military importance to us that the United Nations Organisation should be a success and therefore any action taken now which tended to prejudice the establishment or success of the world organisation must be subject to grave objections, military as well as political. We are not convinced of the need for hurried arrangements in advance of the Security Council. They might even make us appear guilty of sharp practice and would give the Russians gratuitous and justifiable cause for suspicion and ground for making difficulties when we start setting up the Security Council. It might also determine them to exert pressure to obtain bases that they may require for example in the Straits.

(c) We should take the opportunity to secure reciprocal support from the United States for our own requirements including the right of joint user of such United States bases as may be thought desirable.

(d) It is of great importance particularly in connection with the United States request for our support for their negotiations for bases in third party territories to know what if any demands they may intend to make on other countries such as France or the Netherlands.

(e) A clear definition must be drawn between the granting of rights for military bases and the granting of facilities for civil aviation. This should be borne in mind particularly as regards the disputed islands in the Pacific both from the point of view of preserving our right to facilities therein for civil aviation and of obtaining such facilities in territory in the Pacific under United States control.

2. We have put some of these points in a preliminary way to Mr.

Byrnes especially that under (b) above. Until he replies on that particular point we feel it difficult to go further into the matter with the United States. We should however, be very glad to have from you at this stage any comments which you feel able to offer. It seems to us of the greatest importance with a matter of this kind and should so far as possible keep in step.

3. I would emphasise again the importance attached to maintaining strictest secrecy in regard to this matter. Very special precautions are being taken here with this object in view.

4. Since the above was drafted a further communication has been received from Mr. Byrnes. We are examining this and will telegraph further as soon as possible.


1 Document 408.

2 Cablegram D2215, dispatched 11 December, on file AA : A1066, H45/779/3. The list comprised: Manus Island, under Australian mandate; Upolu, under New Zealand mandate; Ascension Island, Canton Island, Christmas Island, Espiritu Santo, Funafuti, Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Tarawa and Viti Levu, under various forms of British control. A further 25 islands were listed, in regard to which the U.S. Govt requested the U.K. and N.Z. Govts to withdraw claims and recognise U.S. sovereignty.


[AA : A1066, H45/779/3]