247 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister (in the United States)

Cablegram Johcu 141 Taut 335 [1],


CANBERRA, [1 January 1942] [2]

Have cabled Australian Minister in U.S. [3] in following terms.


Reference your No. 1240. [4] The Chiefs of Staff have submitted undermentioned views on following proposals in your telegram:

(a) That Australian mainland and territories should be excluded from South Western Pacific Area.

(b) That 'Australian Area' should include Australia, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides and Fiji.

(c) That Australian Area should be excluded from Area in Pacific for which U.S. fleet based on Honolulu is responsible. 'Our view of these proposals is that their adoption would result in Australia and New Zealand being isolated and left to defend Australia[n] [5] Area without allied assistance and with entirely inadequate naval military and air resources thereby endangering line of sea and air communications between U.S. and Australia upon which defence of South Western Pacific Area mainly depend[s].' (ii) My Government point out that the attitude of the U.S.-British Planning Staffs is quite out of harmony with cable received by Prime Minister from Churchill regarding agreement reached with President. [6] In seeking our assent CHURCHILL referred to 'These arrangements designed largely for [your] interest and safety' and clause (H) states 'The U.S. Navy will remain responsible for the whole of Pacific Ocean cast of Philippines, and Australasia including U.S. approaches to Australasia'.

(iii) It would appear that general terms of agreement have now been turned over to technical advisers to work out the strategic plan and they are proceeding to whittle the agreement down by their own conception of how effect should be given to it. If this is the case, no protest you make can be too strong and you should immediately seek an interview with CHURCHILL and PRESIDENT to place our view before them in most emphatic manner possible.

(iv) It appears to us to be an amazing paradox, following declaration framed to express unity of our aims and efforts, that a plan should be put forward which viewed defence situation in Pacific in such a piecemeal manner.

(v) In our [opinion the plan is] strategically unsound. [The] Japanese have only to avoid main allied concentration in South West Pacific Theatre and attack Australian Area which will be weakly held in order to block line of communication from America and prevent the use of Australia as base.

(vi) This would frustrate vitally important aim of clause [g] of agreement to use Australia as channel through which men and material from America could be moved into South West Pacific Theatre. Ends.

In your telegram to myself seeking our assent to [our] [7] unified command and plan of collaboration you introduce matter as involving arrangement designed to safeguard our interests and safety. Our Chiefs of Staff are unable to see anything except endangering of our safety by proposal to exclude Australian mainland and territories from South West Pacific Area.

I do strongly press your personal examination of our advisers' view.

1 This cablegram was transmitted to Churchill through the U.K.


2 Inserted from the Prime Minister's Dept outward cablegram register (AA:A3643, 4).

3 R. G. Casey, to whom this cablegram was dispatched as no. 2 on 1 January. See file AA:A981, War 54.

4 Document 243 5 Material in square brackets (unless otherwise annotated) has been corrected/inserted from the cablegram cited in note 3.

6 Franklin D. Roosevelt. See Document 240.

7 Corrected from the London copy on file AA:A2937, A.B.D.A.

Strategic Area, 1941-1942.

[AA:A3300, 219]