Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

Cablegram 64 WASHINGTON, 12 January 1942, 12.21 a.m.


(1) Reference my telegram 53. [1] 1 flew south afternoon January
10th, boarded Churchill's train that night and had some hours with
him, returning in his train to Washington January 11th.

(2) I repeated and returned to principal points in your telegram
37 [2] over course of several hours and made every possible
endeavour to bring about what is wanted. From notes that I made
immediately afterwards I reproduce hereunder in paragraphs (3) to
(6) inclusive the general lines of Churchill's reply and

(3) Churchill believes that it is impossible to End any other
workable arrangement for the higher direction of the Wavell [3]
campaign than that put forward by the President [4] and himself
Wavell has his instructions and the freer he is left to do his job
the better. Apart from reporting his situation and how he proposes
to meet it Wavell's principal reference to higher authority will
be for reinforcements and his needs in this connection will be
anticipated as far as their availability and means of getting them
to him allow. Advantage of a single command would be nullified if
he was required to seek authority for every move.

(4) Wavell's campaign is not a self-[contained] [5] and separate
campaign with no relation to the rest of the war. The higher
authority or authorities to which Wavell reports have to be same
higher authority or authorities that are responsible for the rest
of the campaign as a whole if only by reason of necessity of
allocating reinforcements of men and weapons and transport
shipping from a pool which is large but by no means inexhaustible.

(5) Churchill states it is difficult enough to have to rely on co-
relation of views between the 'London end' and 'Washington end' by
use of existing machinery (Chiefs of Staff advising War Cabinet or
its equivalent) at these places but situation would become bogged
down if it were to become necessary to set up a third major
consultative body (containing British, Americans, Australians and
Dutch in Australia). This is what he interprets your telegram as
[wanting]. At least London and Washington have before them the
hour to hour situation of the war as a whole (as well as knowledge
of forces and munitions available and likely to become available)
and are also in constant consultation regarding plans for the
future in the existing and potential theatres of war.

Considerations of security and pressure [on] communications mean
that all of this vast mass of most secret information cannot be
made available to another centre (Australia) [in the] necessary
detail to enable Wavell's campaign to be seen in perspective in
relation to the war as a whole.

(6) Germans and Japanese have single commands and can act quickly
in consequence. We have to so arrange ourselves that we can get as
close as we can to very great advantage that they have in this
respect whilst having due regard to views, intentions and needs of
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and [the] Dutch as well as those of
Russia and China.

(7) As regards 'blue area' or 'Anzac triangle' Churchill is
agreeable to making a British aircraft carrier available for its
defence and hopes today or tomorrow to get the Americans to agree
to some United States naval forces being made available also. I
emphasized importance of time in this connection and also in
respect of reinforcement of New Caledonia.

Please do not quote above as Churchill wishes to tell you himself
of all the proposed reinforcements of the 'blue area'.


1 See Document 265, note 3
2 Document 260.

3 See Document 252, note 4.

4 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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

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