523 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram ES65 WASHINGTON, 10 June 1942, 2.19 p.m.


Personal for Curtin from Evatt.

Your telegram P.M.83. [1]

(1) I greatly value the message from you and my colleagues congratulating me on the success of the Mission. We owe much to the consistent support of yourself, as Prime Minister. Personally I owe very much indeed to Smith [2], Robinson [3] and my wife.

(2) I am glad to know that a revised strategy appreciation is being prepared in the light of the probable results of the recent Pacific battles. However, the present view held here is that the engagements are not yet finished.

(3) Sir Owen Dixon [4] has now been here for a week and is settling down to his new post. His formal reception by the President [5] will take place this morning. He has now been brought into personal contact with persons directly concerned with the problem of the South-West Pacific theatre and its supply needs. We have conferred with all the United States Chiefs of Staff and with Sir John Dill and his colleagues, also with Captain Lyttelton [6] of the British War Cabinet. Dixon has now been placed in full possession of all relevant cables and documents which bear upon the duties of his post which I regard as practically equivalent to that of War Minister in the United States.

(4) On the United States side, the attitude of the President has been most cordial to Australia and yourself. He is especially gratified at the warm relations between Australia and Churchill.

His attitude is reflected in that of his Chiefs of Staff.

(5) At the same time we are working out with the British Mission under Dill the best method of carrying into effect Churchill's undertaking that Dill should co-operate with the United States Chiefs of Staff for the purpose of ensuring the security of Australia. Dixon and I have discussed this important problem and in due course he will make suggestions and recommendations as to more regular communication between the Australian Chiefs of Staff and Dill as Head of the British Mission here.

(6) The results of the battle at Midway appear even better than newspaper reports first indicated. It seems that the aircraft carrier strength of the enemy has been grievously impaired. [7] More important still, Dill told us yesterday in confidence that General Marshall [8] now favours a more active policy against the enemy in the South-West Pacific. This will, of course, be in accord with General MacArthur's [9] desires and I strongly recommend that General MacArthur should communicate his views to General Marshall at the earliest possible opportunity without referring to Dill's statement to Dixon and myself (7) The success in Midway seems to have been gained largely through the very accurate intelligence work of the United States Navy. It is pointed out, however, that if the two carriers asked for [10] had been stationed in the South-West Pacific at the time of the engagement the Japanese might have been more successful.

(8) As you know, I think that on the strategical level the best results for Australia would. flow from General MacArthur's personal representations to General Marshall. This, of course, would not preclude you from communicating with the President through Dixon at the highest level. However, the President is always inclined to act on the recommendations of his Chiefs of Staff.

(9) Our mission is really completed and the new Minister is in a position to go straight ahead.

(10) Prior to receiving your telegram, all arrangements had been made for us to leave Washington and to proceed from there to the Pacific Coast, at the week-end. The battle started at Midway may again flare up and it is possible that we will be delayed either at San Francisco or en route. On the other hand, we have to be ready at the Pacific Coast by the week-end, otherwise we may miss the chance of transport home for some time. I think the personal information I have gained should be placed at your disposal at the earliest possible moment. At Washington we have had our farewells and our baggage is packed and some of it is on the way.

(11) If the revised strategy appreciation comes before I leave I shall at once make my comments available. You appreciate that any proposed alteration in the strategy of the Pacific would have to be approved by Marshall and King. [11] At the same time, opportunities will probably occur on the Pacific War Council and through Dixon's contacts with the President, Dill and the United States Chiefs of Staff to contend for a revised strategy for the South-West Pacific in an atmosphere which at present seems favourable to a modified offensive. However, you know that Marshall is the author of the plan for a Western European offensive and this fact may continue to tell against any alteration in the present strategy of the South-West Pacific area.

(12) I am about to attend my last meeting of the Pacific War Council and the President has specially permitted me to bring Dixon to the meeting so that there shall be no break of continuity so far as Australia is concerned. The formal presentation of his credentials takes place before the meeting.

(13) The President has discussed with me alternative proposals for the further exchange of visits which I think I should discuss more fully with you in person.

(14) Dixon has seen this telegram and he agrees with it.

1 Dispatched 9 June. On file AA:A981, Defence 171 It requested Evatt to remain in Washington to await the receipt of a revised appreciation of the strategic situation in the Pacific.

2 Secretary of the Supply and Development Dept (in Washington).

3 Australian businessman and adviser to Evatt on his overseas mission.

4 Minister to the United States.

5 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

6 U.K Minister of Production.

7 The battle of Midway Island on 4-5 June marked the end of Japanese supremacy in the naval war in the Pacific. Japan lost four aircraft carriers and a cruiser, the United States only one aircraft carrier.

8 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

9 Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area.

10 U.S.S. Enterprise and U.S.S. Hornet, which had taken part in the raid on Tokyo on 18 April and later played a vital role in the battle of Midway Island.

11 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy.