64 Curtin to Churchill

Cablegram 56 [1] CANBERRA, 4 March 1944


For the Prime Minister from the Prime Minister.

1. I received through the United Kingdom High Commissioner cablegram Z.121 of 15th December [2], forwarding a summary of the main conclusions on military matters approved at Cairo. [3] This message contained a brief statement of the operational measures proposed in order to achieve the defeat of Japan, and stated that the main British - United States effort will be made in the Pacific along the New Guinea Netherlands East Indies - Philippines axis and against the Mandated Islands. There are also the operations in the South East Asia Area.

2. Both General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz have recently expressed views in interviews with the press on the strategy required to bring about the defeat of Japan. Both have emphasised the necessity for combined efforts by all three forces-ground, naval and air. General MacArthur has stated that the strongest military element of Japan is the Army which must be defeated before our success is assured and that this can only be done by the use of large ground forces. Admiral Nimitz has stated in the press that his objective is to move both ground and air forces across the Pacific into China, as early as possible, because he does not believe that Japan can be defeated from the sea alone.

3. I would appreciate fuller information of the decisions reached at Sextant and the nature of the planning that is in hand to give effect to the broad strategic conception which was agreed upon there. I should be grateful if this information could be made available to me before leaving Australia, as I would like to be aware of the prospective strategic background of our war effort in this theatre and to have any necessary consultations with the Government and its military advisers.

4. In view of the recent attacks on Truk [4] and the movement of part of the Japanese Fleet from this base, could you inform me of the opinion of your naval advisers on the probability of Japanese incursions into the Indian Ocean and whether it is considered possible they are likely to attempt a diversion to relieve the pressure in the Pacific. If so, are they capable of or likely to attempt anything more than raids, what are the probable objectives and what is our capacity to repel such attacks?


1 Sent through the U.K. Dominions Secretary.

2 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VI, Document 340, note 4.

3 A fuller account of the conclusions reached at the November- December Cairo Conference (code named 'Sextant') was delayed. See Document 38.

4 See Document 63, note 2.

[AA:A5954, BOX 576]