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188 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

CANBERRA, 13 December 1941 Cablegram 153


Please convey the following personal message to the President

'On the entry of the United States of America into the war against
Germany and Italy as well as Japan I desire, on behalf of the
people of Australia, to express to you as the representative of
the people of America how greatly we have been heartened and
strengthened by the knowledge that the English-speaking world and
the majority of mankind are now arrayed against the common foe.

2. We in Australia are firmly resolved, come what may, to do our
utmost to defend to the limit of our capacity the Commonwealth and
adjacent territories in the South-Western Pacific and to co-
operate in the general plan for the defeat of the enemy. As you
are no doubt aware, we have land, sea and air forces in the
Malaya-East Indies area.

3. When the risks to Australia were not as great as at the present
time, we sent some of our Naval and Air forces as far afield as
Britain and we have three Army divisions and Air forces in the
Middle East. We have also contributed several thousand men to the
Empire Air Training scheme and hope to be able to continue our
part in it.

4. As a nation bordering the Pacific Ocean, the entry of Japan
into the war has brought a new threat near to our country. We
deeply deplore the losses sustained by your Naval and Air forces
at Hawaii and by the British Navy at Malaya. For some time, these
events will no doubt minimise the otherwise deterrent effect of
American and British seapower on Japanese operations.

5. The Commonwealth Government has warmly welcomed the opportunity
to co-operate with the United States forces in the provision of a
naval base at Rabaul and aerodrome facilities in territories under
the control of the Commonwealth and at New Caledonia. However, the
changed naval situation has had such repercussions on our local
defence position and co-operation in overseas theatres that our
Military resources are insufficient to meet the commitments for
the defence of the Pacific Islands in which you and we are vitally
interested. I am forwarding separately to the Australian Minister
a review of the position as it has been put to us by our Service
Advisers [2] and it would deeply be appreciated if you and your
Service Authorities could consider what help you may be able to
give in providing forces to deny these bases to the enemy. [3]

John Curtin
Prime Minister.'


1 Franklin D. Roosevelt. Evatt had previously dispatched to Casey
a message for the U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, conveying
the Commonwealth Govt's 'profound appreciation of the initiative,
courage and patience displayed by the President and Secretary of
State in their endeavours to prevent war in the Pacific'. See
cablegram 1060, of 9 December on file AA:A981, War 53A and Casey's
letter 269/41 to Hull of 11 December on file AA:A3300, 100.

On 11 December Roosevelt sent a short message of good wishes to
the Govt and people of Australia, apparently on Casey's
suggestion. See Casey's cablegrams 1127 and 1129 of 11 December
and 1137 of 12 December on file AA:A981, War 49, i.

2 See cablegram 154 of 13 December on file AA:A1608, L41/1/5.

3 Casey reported on 15 December (cablegram 1149) that he had
immediately conveyed the contents of cablegrams 153-4 to
Roosevelt. On 18 December (cablegram 1170) he transmitted the
following reply from the President:

I want to thank you most deeply for your message of courage and
inspiration and of firm resolution to stand fast against the

The question of the defence of Rabaul and New Caledonia is now
being studied by our War and Navy Departments to determine in what
way we may be of assistance. In the meantime I am sure that your
forces are taking all possible steps to protect these areas
against enemy attack.

Both cablegrams are on file AA:A3300, 218A. See also Document 203,
paragraph 1.

[AA:A981, WAR 53A]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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