273 Curtin to Hankinson

Letter CANBERRA, 7 September 1944

TOP SECRET

Reference is made to the Aide-Memoire [1] relative to the question of providing from Empire sources garrisons for British Islands in the Pacific recaptured from the enemy, which you handed to me on 15th July, 1944. It is noted that Borneo is mentioned as well as Pacific Islands proper.

The general policy of developing Australian interests in the South East Asia and Southwest Pacific areas would make it desirable that Australia should contribute to the garrisoning of points in these areas, if other considerations permit. Moreover, Clause 15 of the Australian - New Zealand Agreement [2] contemplates Australian participation in the policing of agreed areas in this region, pending the inauguration of a system of general security.

The position is, however, that the whole of the Australian Forces that might be available for garrisoning the recaptured territories have been assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area and are under the operational control of General MacArthur, and tasks given to the Australian Army by the Commander-in-Chief, S.W.P.A., involve very considerable commitments in the Solomon Islands and in New Britain, in addition to garrison forces required in New Guinea.

Having regard to the considerations referred to in the previous paragraph it is the opinion of my advisers that it is not possible for Australia to undertake responsibility for garrisoning British possessions in the Pacific recaptured from the Japanese, other than those within the Southwest Pacific Area in accordance with such directions as are given by the Commander-in-Chief, Southwest Pacific Area.

JOHN CURTIN

1 Dated 14 July. On file AA:A1608, S41/1/9, i.

2 Document 26.

[AA:A1608, S41/1/9, i]