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1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference

1st Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference
Host country United Kingdom
Dates1 May 1944
16 May 1944
CitiesLondon
Heads of Government6
ChairWinston Churchill
(Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
Follows1937 Imperial Conference
Precedes1946
Key points
Supporting the Moscow Declaration
Coordination of war effort

The 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was the first Meeting of the Heads of Government of the British Commonwealth. It was held in the United Kingdom, between 1–16 May 1944, and was hosted by that country's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

The conference

Outline

The conference was attended by the Prime Ministers of all of the Dominions within the Commonwealth except Ireland and Newfoundland. Attendees included Prime Minister John Curtin of Australia, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King of Canada, Prime Minister Peter Fraser of New Zealand and Prime Minister Jan Smuts of South Africa. Also attending was Prime Minister Sir Godfrey Huggins of the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, and representing India was The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Members of the Churchill War Cabinet and the High Commissioners of the Dominions also attended.

Ireland did not participate although at the time the British Commonwealth still regarded Ireland as one of its members. Ireland had not participated in any equivalent conferences since 1932.

The British Commonwealth leaders agreed to support the Moscow Declaration and reached agreement regarding their respective roles in the overall Allied war effort.[1]

Prior to the conference, Robert McIntyre and Douglas Young, the leaders of the Scottish National Party, lobbied King, Fraser, Smuts, Huggins, and Curtin, asking them to raise the issue of Scottish independence at the conference and to invite Scotland to take part in it and all future Commonwealth Conferences. Curtin viewed it as an internal matter for the British government, King was sympathetic, and the remainder simply voiced their acknowledgement of the communiques.[2]

Participants

Ministers

Nation Name Portfolio
 United Kingdom Winston Churchill Prime Minister (chairman)[3]
Clement Attlee Deputy Prime Minister[4]
The Lord Beaverbrook Lord Privy Seal
Sir John Anderson Chancellor of the Exchequer
Anthony Eden Foreign Secretary[5]
Herbert Morrison Home Secretary[6]
The Viscount Cranborne Dominions Secretary
Oliver Stanley Colonial Secretary
Leo Amery India and Burma Secretary
Sir Percy Grigg War Secretary
A. V. Alexander First Lord of the Admiralty
Sir Archibald Sinclair, Bt Air Secretary
Sir Stafford Cripps Minister of Aircraft Production
Brendan Bracken Minister of Information
Ernest Bevin Minister of Labour and National Service
Oliver Lyttelton Minister of Production
The Lord Woolton Minister of Reconstruction
The Lord Cherwell Paymaster General
 Australia John Curtin Prime Minister[7]
Stanley Bruce High Commissioner
 Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King Prime Minister[8]
Vincent Massey High Commissioner
British Raj India Hari Singh The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir
Sir Feroz Khan Noon Delegate
 New Zealand Peter Fraser Prime Minister[9]
Bill Jordan High Commissioner
South Africa South Africa Jan Smuts Prime Minister[10]
Deneys Reitz High Commissioner
 Southern Rhodesia Sir Godfrey Huggins Prime Minister[11]

Military

Service Head Name
Army Chief of the Imperial General Staff Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke
Navy First Sea Lord Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham
RAF Chief of the Air Staff Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Charles Portal

Diplomats and civil servants

See also

References

  1. ^ Ehrman, John (1956). Grand Strategy Volume V, August 1943-September 1944. London: HMSO (British official history). p. 332.
  2. ^ National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Acc. 10090, Papers of Dr Robert Douglas McIntyre, MB ChB, DPH, Duniv, JP. File 19: Letters to Commonwealth Prime Ministers 1944, and argument with Douglas Young 1951. Accessed 6 August 2014.
  3. ^ Churchill at the time was Minister of Defence and First Lord of the Treasury
  4. ^ Attlee was at the time Lord President of the Council
  5. ^ Eden was at the time Leader of the House of Commons
  6. ^ Morrison was at the time Minister of Home Security
  7. ^ Curtin was at the time Minister for Defence Coordination
  8. ^ Mackenzie King was at the time Secretary of State for External Affairs and President of the Privy Council
  9. ^ Fraser was at the time Minister of Foreign Affairs
  10. ^ Smuts was at the time Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence
  11. ^ Huggins was also Minister for Native Affairs
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1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference
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