421 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram SW 18 CANBERRA, 19 March 1942


For Minister for External Affairs from Prime Minister.

Begins: I shall be glad if you will seek an early opportunity of conveying the following message from me to the President [1]:-

The Commonwealth Government are of the opinion that attacks on Port Moresby, followed by attacks on the East coast of Australia or New Caledonia, may take place shortly.

2. Such attacks will undoubtedly be carried out by a force including carriers and transports.

3. Japanese forces already occupy forward bases on north coast of New Guinea, in addition to Gasmata, Kessa and Rabaul.

4. Evidence accumulates that Rabaul is being consolidated as a sub-marine base.

5. The above moves could be more satisfactorily countered if adequate naval forces, including at least two carriers and submarines, could be based nearer for a period.

6. Sydney provides a reasonably well protected base, with air cover and warning, and would shorten the distance for supplies and refuelling. 7. We wish to assure the President that we have every confidence in Admiral Leary [2] and are completely satisfied with the existing naval organisation, whereby Australian Naval forces are under his operational command. We feel, however, that Admiral Leary would be so much more in a position to strike effective blows at Japanese forces in this area, if he had at least the additional forces mentioned in paragraph 5 above, especially if they were operating from a base within the immediate command, but we venture to put forward this request directly through you. Ends.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 Commander, Allied naval forces in the Anzac Area.