By Christopher Baxter (auth.)
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Extra info for The Great Power Struggle in East Asia, 1944–50: Britain, America and Post-War Rivalry
The United States was prepared to discuss strategy but the ﬁnal decisions would rest with them. 92 The discrepancies in forces available to the United States and Britain were clear for all to see. The Joint Staff Planners estimated that the Americans would have 36 divisions available for the main assaults on Japan; the British Commonwealth force would initially comprise three divisions for Coronet (a division each from Britain, Australia and Canada). 94 Truman’s main concern was to save American lives, even with the atomic weapons card in his hand (now a reality), which had so excited both Churchill and the US Secretary of State James Byrnes in the realm of bargaining power with the Soviets.
Lord Cherwell, the paymaster general and close friend of the prime minister, expanded these arguments in July, informing Churchill that Britain now needed extra manpower to begin the revival of British exports, otherwise the outlook for the civilian during the coming winter would become ‘most serious’. It therefore seemed ‘quite out of the question’ to consider any expansion of Far Eastern commitments without a genuine guarantee from the armed services that this would not inﬂate still further their manpower demands.
V. 68 Alexander expressed sympathy and told Bruce that the Admiralty fully realised Australia’s difﬁculties but he was sure a solution could be easily reached. Sir Frederick Shedden, secretary of the Australian Department of Defence (who travelled with Curtin to London in May and was responsible for re-shaping Australia’s war effort), thought Alexander’s reply either ‘stupid’ or ‘cunning’, convinced that the British were attempting to ofﬂoad their own manpower problems on the Australians. As the British pressed ahead, the result was serious friction between the Australian government and Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, the commander of the British Paciﬁc Fleet.