222 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram Winch 2 LONDON, 14 July 1944, 9.40 p.m.

PERSONAL AND TOP SECRET IMPORTANT

The President has sent us my immediately following telegram. We all think here it would be right to do this now in spite of the divers and the pilots. Here we are getting more divers than pilots. All good wishes and congratulations on your safe return.

Attachment

Cablegram Winch 3

Following is the message referred to in my immediately preceding telegram.

'Both you and we are negotiating to exchange Japanese civilian prisoners held by each of us for British and American civilians held by Japan. The likelihood is that such an exchange may be the only way of saving the lives of hundreds of your and our nationals.

There is a snag on both sides. The Japanese want us to release three hundred odd divers and pilots held in Australia, my military people do not agree to their release, and as a result your exchange negotiations have bogged down.

In our exchange the snag is that the Japanese Government insists that Japanese officials coming out shall not be searched while your people insist on search. The immediate case concerns officials coming out of Argentina. in result, our negotiations will bog down when we inform the Japanese of this requirement.

It seems to me that the military considerations in either case are now very small. Japanese officials cannot carry any effective quantities even of valuable contraband. On the other hand, our naval affairs in the Pacific are proceeding well and the Japanese divers and pilots held in Australia cannot be of great help to the Japanese even in respect to Far Eastern installations in view of our present sea and air superiority.

My suggestion is that you give directions to your people to waive the search of Japanese officials, I will be prepared to recommend to our people that they let the divers and pilots be exchanged.

This, at least, will give a reasonable chance that both exchanges might go through, saving many hundreds of both American and British from slow death.

Please cable me of your views. I think the technical people are over-emphasising the importance of considerations quite proper in themselves but which should be overriden by the higher humanitarian interest.'

CHURCHILL

[AA:A989, 43/460/10/2, iii]