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

Cablegram 74 WASHINGTON, 14 January 1942, 12.04 a.m.


President [1] returned Washington Jan. 11th. I saw him and represented to him substance of your telegram No. 37 [2] and specified that Australia's great stake and responsibilities in South-west Pacific warranted our having adequate voice in the direction of campaign in Pacific area; that Australian reaction to the present proposal for higher direction was very unfavourable and that you were extremely desirous that organisation should be broadened so as to be truly A-B-D-A.

His reply did not materially differ from what Churchill has said, that it had been necessary to create organisation very hastily and that it had unfortunately not been possible to consult all Governments concerned adequately beforehand and that consultative machinery had to include London and Washington with the best arrangements for giving Australia and Dutch opportunity to make their views known that could be devised. He (President) believed present arrangements would undoubtedly be modified as experience] [3] was [gained] of their working although his view was that it was in the common interest to insure that speed [of] decision was not sacrificed. He said that he appreciated your point of view but that he was at a loss to suggest any method whereby Australian and Dutch representation could be improved on the political side.

Geography created a difficulty. If we (Australia) wished to have senior military naval and air officers here in Washington, so far as he (President) was concerned, he would have no objection at all although he would have to consult his Chiefs of Staff as to extent to which they could be brought into continuous consultation as apart from ad hoc discussion. He invited me to discuss this, if you so desired, with his Chiefs of Staff.

He said that he had to take the blame for having speeded up the discussions resulting in 'directive' to Wavell [4] to the extent that satisfactory prior consultation all round had not been possible. In this regard he was afraid he had offended the Dutch who he understood had had even less opportunity than Australia to become aware of the course of events here. His belief that speed was a vital necessity in the circumstances was the sole reason for this.

He went on to discuss the 'Anzac area' and [the naval] proposals directed towards ensuring its security. In addition to British and American warships that it was proposed to allocate to this area he said that from now on there would be almost continuous American ships or convoys escorted by American warships passing through this area [between] United States and Eastern Australian seaboard.

There were also proposals for the garrisoning of New Caledonia by substantial American forces that had virtually been decided upon, and particulars of which would be made known very shortly.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt. He had been at his home, Hyde Park, New York.

2 Document 260.

3 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 219.

4 See Document 252, note 4. For Wavell's directive see Document 261, note 7.

[AA:A981, WAR 54]