189 MacArthur to Curtin

Teleprinter message BXM343 BRISBANE, 13 May 1943

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Received 13 May 1943, 12.10 p.m.

[In the light of both the successful Allied offensive in the Mediterranean and of the lack of progress in the war against Japan Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to meet in Washington to discuss future Allied strategy. At the ensuing conference, held between 11 and 26 May, it was decided that greater emphasis was to be placed upon Pacific operations, although the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers in Europe at the earliest possible date was reconfirmed as the paramount objective of Allied strategy.]

My estimate of the situation in Washington is as follows:-

The British Empire plans for the next phase of the war have been in process of formulation during the last month and are now completed. The visit of the Churchill party is for the purpose of the presentation of this plan to the United States authorities for concurrence. The size and makeup of the group give rise to the belief that the current conference is comparable in scope to that of Casablanca [1] and indicates to me that the Empire plans unquestionably differ both in basic control and in concept from those now being projected in Washington based upon agreement arrived at in Casablanca. At that time, the project envisioned a movement on Sardinia under Eisenhower. It is my belief that the Empire plan now being presented envisions a movement through the Middle East under British command. The conference now being held is probably to decide which concept will be accepted after what may involve considerable frictional discussion. [2]

I do not believe that the Pacific theatre will figure in the current discussions except in a minor way, nor do I believe there is the slightest chance to change the basic decisions which have made this a secondary area since both groups now in Washington are in agreement on that point. I believe that any injection at this time of the demands of this theatre, unless specifically called for, would not only be hopeless of success but might possibly arouse harmful resentment, especially from the London group who, rightly or wrongly, are unquestionably assuming the prerogative of speaking for the British Empire and who have gone to Washington with a completely thought-out and crystallized plan in which, so far as the Empire is concerned, all decisions have been made.

The Sutherland Mission [3] and Dr. Evatt have acquainted the Washington authorities with our situation, our hopes, our fears, our requirements and our recommendations. Dr. Evatt is on the spot, is immediately available if called for and is fully prepared to present our viewpoint if the opportunity should present itself.

My advice, therefore, would be to attempt nothing from Australia at this stage unless called upon by the conference. I am sure that I will be requested to submit my views if any questions arise with reference to this area which have not already been presented and fully considered. Nothing whatsoever has come as yet, nor do I expect it. I can give you almost instantly a full estimate of the situation, but insofar as Washington is concerned, they already have it in great detail. Evatt will naturally take every precaution to protect us to the extent possible, but I am sure that the decisions are completed and accomplished already insofar as our own immediate future is concerned.

Nevertheless, let me know as soon as possible your views and wishes so that I can comply at once therewith.

MAC ARTHUR

1 See Document 108.

2 The decisions of the conference are set out in Document 213.

3 See Document 138, note 3.

[DEFENCE: SPECIAL COLLECTION II, GLOBAL STRATEGY DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN ROOSEVELT AND CHURCHILL MAY 1943]