229 Dixon to Curtin

Cablegram S90 WASHINGTON, 24 June 1943, 9.45 p.m.


I had lunch with the President yesterday and during the conversation he made a number of observations of interest. No one else was present. He said that he regarded operations through Burma as too difficult to give any hope of a successful attack on Japan by that route: the use of China, however, as a means of attacking Japan by air remained essential. He had been much concerned at the reports from China and at the messages he had received from the Generalissimo. [1] He had conferred with Stilwell and Chennault as to what could be done and had insisted that notwithstanding the difficulties 7,000 tons a month of supplies and munitions should be transported by air for their needs.

He had discussed with Churchill the possibility of operating against the Japanese south of Rangoon. Churchill had raised the question whether an approach might be made through Sumatra. He himself felt that a better course might be [to] retake Timor. It would protect the north western side of Australia and give air bases for further attacks. He doubted whether the Japanese had very large forces in Timor. He inquired about the state of development of New Caledonia and the extent of French settlement there. I told him that apart from some agriculture in the valleys, the grazing of cattle, the nickel mines in the mountains and the winning of chrome on alluvial flats, I had not seen much development. He said that the whole French situation was a source of trouble and it was a question how some of their possessions were to be dealt with after the war. For example he had told Churchill that Dakar must be secured against possible hostile use against any part of South America. He felt that the idea of trusteeship of many such places ought to be used. The world would need what he might call police stations. The United Nations was a conception of great potential usefulness. Indeed he had said to Churchill that he wanted Dakar not for United States but for the United Nations as a strategical point of security. The French could have it for administrative, commercial and general purposes, but its military character might for instance be placed under the control of United States and Brazil for the United Nations.

From the point of view of the Pacific, New Caledonia presented the same problem. He wondered how Australia and New Zealand felt about New Caledonia remaining after the war an exposed and undefended strategical point. Perhaps the same sort of thing might be done with it. It might be left in French hands to administer but the United Nations might place with Australia and New Zealand the care of its strategical and military use.

The President asked whether there was anything further about airways. I took the opportunity of telling him of the great need of some additional D.C.3s to maintain air communication within the continent. He said that he had meant to refer to air routes from United States to Australia. I said that there appeared to be need of an alternative route through the Marquesas and that this view was confirmed by the recent bombing of Canton Island, the garrison of which was not large.

The President obtained from me a description of the nature of the country I had seen in New Guinea, of the work done in establishing and strengthening positions, laying down airfields and opening communication, and of the measures taken against malaria.

He also said that Mrs. Roosevelt had formed a desire of visiting the South-West Pacific Area. He had discussed it with her. He had told her that she ought not to go into the very forward areas because of the difficulties her doing so would make for those responsible there. Her idea included seeing as many United States troops as possible. Any visit must be short but probably she could go to various places on the East Coast of Australia. I mentioned the flying times between Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne.

The President asked whether it was necessary to hold an election and I replied that we had a written constitution which required it.


1 Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese Prime Minister.

[AA:A3300, 257]