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

Cablegram 44 WASHINGTON, 8 January 1942, 9.47 p.m.


Your telegram 37. [1] I discussed with British Chiefs of Staff
here this morning Prime Minister's [2] telegram to Churchill
(contain[ed in] [3] your telegram 37) and first draft [of] reply
that Churchill had drafted himself and telegraphed from his
present location [4] to Chiefs of Staff for their views. I also
had communicated to Churchill (and to Chiefs of Staff here)
substance of first eight paragraphs of your telegram No. 37
omitting paragraphs 3 and 6.

I made strong representation on lines of your views as to
inadequacy of Churchill's draft reply in meeting your points. This
was communicated to Churchill but as his final reply will be sent
to you via London from his present location, I have not yet seen
it. He is over 1,000 miles away from Washington at present.

Chiefs of Staff asked where Australia wanted more consultative
representation, at 'Wavell [5] end' or at 'London end'. I said
that I believed at both ends. Their attitude in effect was that
advantages of having a 'supreme commander' would be whittled down
if he has to consult with several governments. He will be fully
engaged in directing the campaign and is not equipped to discuss
matters with governments. They pointed out that he would
undoubtedly have senior Australian officers on his staff but I
said they would have their staff functions to perform and would
not represent a consultative link between Wavell and Australian
Government. I asked if there was to be any provision for a senior
Australian liaison officer between Wavell and Australian Chiefs of
Staff. Field Marshal Dill [6] said that he saw [no] difficulty in
this although this would need to be discussed with Churchill and
the President.

However, I said that I believed that Australian Government's
principal concern was to have adequate representation on 'body'
that issued instructions to Wavell. Their answer was that
arrangements proposed in annex 2 of 'directive' or 'letter of
instructions' to Wavell [7] was the best they could work out
bearing in mind the fact that the British Government was in London
and the United States Government in Washington. There could be no
one self-contained 'body' in one place that would satisfy all
governments concerned. Australian viewpoint could be put through
Page [8] (or whoever was Commonwealth Government representative in
London with ministerial status) to War Cabinet. Wherever
Australian view was presented (i.e. in London or Washington)
somewhat the same method of presenting Australian view was

Dependent on what Churchill says to you in reply, I would suggest
that the time is ripe to press for some more adequate standing as
regards the War Cabinet in London for Page or whoever is to be
your representative with ministerial status in London,
particularly in view of the clear necessity for the Commonwealth
Government's views to be heard in respect of the South-west
Pacific and indeed in respect of the other areas in which
Australian forces are engaged. I do not know Page's present status
as regards War Cabinet and I am assuming it is not satisfactory.

It appears probable that neither Churchill nor the President will
be back in Washington before the night of January 9th at the
earliest. [9] Meanwhile, if you will let me have any positive
proposals that may arise from the above reactions and/or [from]
Churchill's reply, I can work on United Kingdom and United States
staffs prior to my seeing Churchill and the President.

As regards paragraph 6 of your telegram No. 37 I can assure you
that there is no misapprehension in high quarters here. I have
kept them informed confidentially from the monthly telegrams from
Australia of production and numbers of men under arms and in
training. The great difficulty has been to get them to appreciate
what has been done by way of numbers in services and munitions
production. Until I started giving them precise confidential
information a few months ago, they were incredulous about what had
been achieved. You can be assured that I appreciate your attitude
on this.


1 Document 260.

2 John Curtin's cablegram is published as Document 259.

3 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
Washington copy on file AA:A3300,219.

4 Churchill spent 4-9 January at the Palm Beach, Florida, home of
Edward E. Stettinius, U.S. Lend Lease Administrator and special
assistant to President Roosevelt.

5 See Document 252, note 4.

6 Leader of the U.K. Joint Staff Mission in Washington.

7 The directive to Wavell (dated 2 January) is on file AA:A3300,
219 and was communicated to the Commonwealth Govt in cablegram
Winch 1 of 4 January (on file AA:A981, War 54). Annex 2 outlined
the decision-making responsibilities shared between London and

8 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

9 President Roosevelt was at his Hyde Park, New York, home.

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