415 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 295 WASHINGTON, 19 April 1941, 1.37 p.m.


For the Chief of the Naval Staff [1] from Naval Attache. [2]

Tropic [3] 3.

Report of conversations book 2, appendix 7, paragraph I I and B.U.S. (J) (41) fourth meeting [4], paragraph (2). Admiral Danckwerts [5] has now returned from his visit to Commander-in- Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet. [6]

(2) He reports that in the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief and his staff, direct operations against Japan by Naval or Naval Air Forces are not a practical proposition partly because the risk to forces engaged, both from enemy attack and from difficulties of refuelling, are not the ones they are prepared to accept, and partly because they hold theoretically that unless continuously repeated such raids are not of value.

(3) They are considering operations against Japanese bases in Marshall and Caroline Islands as a kind of step by step offensive South West but no definite plans to this end appear to be in existence nor do they appear to be in possession of detailed knowledge of Japanese defences and preparations there nor necessary means of overcoming Japanese shore resistance.

(4) They are not in favour of operations conducted in Aleutian Islands on account of bad weather in that neighbourhood and distance from Pearl Harbour but they are shortly sending a force to cruise in that neighbourhood as a supplementary gesture to recent cruise of their ships to Australia and New Zealand.

(5) In general they hold to a hope that mere existence of United States Pacific fleet based at Hawaii will produce a containing effect on Japanese naval forces but Admiral Danckwerts does not consider we can count upon any active demonstrations in Japanese waters.

(6) Admiral Danckwerts emphasised the need for diverting Japanese strength to northward and he is confident that Commander-in-Chief of United States Pacific Fleet will reinvestigate every possibility that can be suggested for more active operations calculated to have greater containing effect on Japanese naval forces.

(7) Admiral Danckwerts' telegraphed report to United Kingdom of which foregoing is a summary has been repeated to Commander-in- Chief, Far East. [7]


1 Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, but see Document 355, note 2.

2 Commander D. H. Harries.

3 The prefix 'Tropic' denoted cablegrams from the Naval Attache in Washington to the Chief of the Naval Staff in Melbourne. The first cablegram in the series was sent on 14 April 1941. See Casey's cablegram 281 of 14 April on file AA: A981, Far East 25B, i.

4 The papers known as B.U.S. {J} (41) are records of the joint British-U.S. staff conversations held in Washington from 29 January to 29 March 1941. This reference is to the minutes of the fourth meeting, held on 7 February 1941. A complete set of the minutes of these conversations is held in the Dept of Defence, Canberra.

5 Member of the U.K. delegation to the U.K.-U.S. staff conversations in Washington.

6 Admiral H. E. Kimmel.

7 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

[AA: A981, FAR EAST 25B, i]