Skip to main content

Historical documents

204 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, and to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 1167 WASHINGTON, 17 December 1941, 11.50 p.m.


Most important and most disturbing fact in the Pacific is that
United States Pacific Fleet based on Honolulu is on the defensive
and apparently cannot be induced to take [any] offensive action
even directed towards relieving the Philippines. Damage suffered
Honolulu though slightly less than originally believed is still
formidable. For public purposes it is being very much minimized as
you will have seen from Secretary of Navy's [2] public statement
yesterday. Naval Attache at this Legation [3] has signalled to
Australian Chief of Naval Staff [4] today United States Navy
Department plans for utilization United States Pacific Fleet based
Honolulu which is not pleasant reading for us and which explains
why the President [5] was unwilling to speak to me today (and has
shown the same unwillingness to speak to the British Ambassador
[6] and others) on any aspect of United States naval action in the

Some diversionary [raids and] movements designed to relieve the
pressure [on] United States islands under attack are possible to
westward and south-westward of Honolulu but will not be extended
to westward [of] 180 degrees south of the equator.

There is great bitterness among the senior people in the Army [and
other] Department[s] concerned who know the facts, and there is
considerable pressure being exerted to create a more [militant]
viewpoint so far without success.

The whole burden of seeking to try to relieve the Far Eastern
situation is at present being thrown on the United States Army Air
Corps by means that I have reported [7], and by flying heavy
bombers from United States of America across Atlantic and Africa
and through India to Philippines and to China.

It is possible that the outlook and attitude here may improve when
additional U.S.A. naval strength reaches the Pacific from the

No doubt you will restrict circulation of this telegram to a
minimum. I hope to see Secretary of Navy and Secretary of War [8]


1 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 101.

2 Colonel Franklin Knox.

3 Commander D. H. Harries.

4 Vice-Admiral Sir Guy Royle. The message has not been found.

5 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

6 Lord Halifax.

7 See cablegram 1163 of 17 December on the file cited in note 1.

8 H. L. Stimson.

[AA:A981, WAR 54]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top