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252 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 16 WASHINGTON, 3 January 1942, 2.11 a.m.


1. Reference to Prime Minister's telegram No.2 and his similar
telegram to Churchill [1] which I have seen.

2. I had long discussion with Churchill and British Chiefs of
Staff today.

3. Prime Minister may expect early telegram from Churchill direct
replying to his 166 to Churchill [2] through me.

4. Prime Minister will also hear direct from Churchill on his
telegram No.2 to me and has asked me not to anticipate his
(Churchill's) reply. However I think I should let you and the
Prime Minister have my impressions privately as under.

5. I made my case with the aid of a map on which I had coloured
south-western Pacific theatre' in green; area from 142 degrees
east at equator (that is, at equator due north of the join between
Dutch and Australian New Guinea) thence eastwards along the
equator to the date line (180 degrees), thence south to below New
Zealand, thence westerly to the south point of Tasmania and
northerly up the east coast of Australia to Cape York, in blue;

and whole remainder of the Pacific Ocean north and east of this
area, red.

6. Across this map of the Pacific I had drawn 'air ferry' in the
belt from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Hawaiian Islands,
thence southwest including Palmyra Island, Canton Island, Samoa,
Fiji, New Caledonia, to include Brisbane and Townsville, cutting
broad swathe across the abovementioned 'blue' area.

7. Additionally I drew abroad 'sea transport' belt from San
Francisco and southward to the Society Islands thence south and
west to include New Zealand and through to include Sydney and

8. I emphasised that the United States Navy had consistently over
the last year disclaimed any responsibility for the area south of
the equator west of 180 degrees date line (my blue area), and that
this was not inconsistent with their present attitude as reflected
in Churchill's telegram to the Prime Minister [3] that the United
States will remain responsible for the whole of the Pacific Ocean
east Philippines and Australasia including United States approach
to Australia.

9. 'Australasia' is Australia and New Zealand, and above quoted
statement, taken by itself, does not commit United States Navy to
doing more than escorting their convoys through my 'blue' area to
the Australian coast.

10. The matter was thoroughly ventilated and I did not leave it
until it had been appreciated by Churchill and his Chiefs of
Staff. I left three copies of the abovementioned coloured map with

11. Churchill said that he would do his best with the Americans to
get them to accept direct naval responsibility for the 'blue' area
and if necessary British Navy would help too. Please do not quote
this as he wants to telegraph you himself in his own words.

12. I notice that Prime Minister says in last paragraph of his
telegram to Churchill 'our Chiefs of Staff are unable to see
anything except the endangering of our safety by the proposal to
exclude Australian mainland and territories from south-western
Pacific area'. My strong personal belief is that it would be much
more to our Australian advantage to have 'blue' area included in
American Pacific fleet area, with additional British naval
assistance, than to have 'blue' area included in south-western
Pacific theatre. Such naval forces as are allotted to south-
western Pacific theatre as now defined will be very fully occupied
and will have no time to spare for 'blue' area, whereas the United
States Pacific fleet now based on Honolulu should have the ships
and incentive to police the 'blue' area, particularly if they can
be got to accept formal responsibility.

13. Tentative 'letter of instructions' has been telegraphed in its
present form to General Wavell [4] for his comments and when
finally drafted will be telegraphed to you. I understand, however,
that this is unlikely to be within 36 hours.

1 John Curtin's cablegram to Churchill (which was a repeat of his
no. 2 to Casey) is published as Document 247.

2 Document 237
3 Document 240.

4 U.K. Commander-in-Chief, India. He arrived in Batavia on 10
January and assumed command of the A.B.D.A. Area on 15 January,
establishing his headquarters near Bandung.

[AA:A981, WAR 56A]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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