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213 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 1188 WASHINGTON, 22 December 1941, 12.38 a.m.


Reference my telegram No. 1167. [2] Certain discussions will start
here on December 22/23, of which you will be aware. [3] I was made
aware of them by the British Ambassador [4] and by the President
on condition I made no reference to them by telegram in any way
until today for security reasons. In accepting this limitation, I
asked that the Australian Government might be advised from direct
sources which I was assured would be done.

I sent my telegram No. 1185 [5] in the light of the above-
mentioned forthcoming discussions.

Initial contact is likely to begin at the equivalent of 11a.m.

December 23rd Australian Eastern Standard Time.

One early important matter that will undoubtedly be discussed will
be that of [regional] commands. Although naturally I have no
direct authoritative information, I have reason to believe that
the President will try very hard to have an American accepted as
commander-in-chief in the Pacific and the Far East theatre, and
that General MacArthur [6] (now in the Philippines) will probably
be the individual nominated. I understand that, although not
devoid of human frailities, he is a good man.

It seems clear that the President will insist that one or other of
the important regional commands (European, Atlantic, African
combined or Pacific Far East) must go to America and Pacific Far
East Command seems the obvious one.

If I am right in the above surmise (and it is no more than a
surmise) then I venture to suggest that the interests of all
concerned will be served by accepting the situation gracefully,
even to the extent of making the suggestion ourselves in the
interest of future harmonious working together.

I would assume (this is surmise) that the countries principally
concerned would have a senior staff officer or officers on the
staff of each commander-in-chief and that our Australian interests
would be looked after in that way.

It occurs to me as not impossible that the headquarters of the
commander-in-chief of the Pacific and the Far East might be in
Australia. It seems reasonably clear that the Japanese operations
which will have to be coped with will be in the western and
probably particularly in the south-western Pacific rather than in
the Pacific generally. The references by the President and others
to Australia being used as a 'Bridge-head or Base' would seem to
indicate the desirability of the commander-in-chief being located

I would expect, however, that Honolulu or San Fancisco would be
considered as possibilities (possibly in the American eye a more
desirable possibility) than Australia, with a deputy of the
commander-in-chief in Australia to exercise local command.

In any event it seems to me that Singapore or Manila are too
localised to be desirable headquarters. Subject to your views, I
would think that there are obvious advantages in the commander-in-
chief being located in Australia.

No doubt you will advise me of your views and instructions on this
and related matters. If you agree generally with the contents of
this telegram I would be grateful for the earliest possible advice
as the seed will need to be sown.

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

2 Document 204
3 Winston Churchill arrived in Washington on 22 December for
meetings with President Roosevelt. The Commonwealth Govt does not
appear to have been informed of Churchill's mission prior to the
receipt of this cablegram.

4 Lord Halifax.

5 Document 210.

6 Commander, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East.

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