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

Cablegram 74 WASHINGTON, 14 January 1942, 12.04 a.m.


President [1] returned Washington Jan. 11th. I saw him and
represented to him substance of your telegram No. 37 [2] and
specified that Australia's great stake and responsibilities in
South-west Pacific warranted our having adequate voice in the
direction of campaign in Pacific area; that Australian reaction to
the present proposal for higher direction was very unfavourable
and that you were extremely desirous that organisation should be
broadened so as to be truly A-B-D-A.

His reply did not materially differ from what Churchill has said,
that it had been necessary to create organisation very hastily and
that it had unfortunately not been possible to consult all
Governments concerned adequately beforehand and that consultative
machinery had to include London and Washington with the best
arrangements for giving Australia and Dutch opportunity to make
their views known that could be devised. He (President) believed
present arrangements would undoubtedly be modified as experience]
[3] was [gained] of their working although his view was that it
was in the common interest to insure that speed [of] decision was
not sacrificed. He said that he appreciated your point of view but
that he was at a loss to suggest any method whereby Australian and
Dutch representation could be improved on the political side.

Geography created a difficulty. If we (Australia) wished to have
senior military naval and air officers here in Washington, so far
as he (President) was concerned, he would have no objection at all
although he would have to consult his Chiefs of Staff as to extent
to which they could be brought into continuous consultation as
apart from ad hoc discussion. He invited me to discuss this, if
you so desired, with his Chiefs of Staff.

He said that he had to take the blame for having speeded up the
discussions resulting in 'directive' to Wavell [4] to the extent
that satisfactory prior consultation all round had not been
possible. In this regard he was afraid he had offended the Dutch
who he understood had had even less opportunity than Australia to
become aware of the course of events here. His belief that speed
was a vital necessity in the circumstances was the sole reason for

He went on to discuss the 'Anzac area' and [the naval] proposals
directed towards ensuring its security. In addition to British and
American warships that it was proposed to allocate to this area he
said that from now on there would be almost continuous American
ships or convoys escorted by American warships passing through
this area [between] United States and Eastern Australian seaboard.

There were also proposals for the garrisoning of New Caledonia by
substantial American forces that had virtually been decided upon,
and particulars of which would be made known very shortly.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt. He had been at his home, Hyde Park, New

2 Document 260.

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

4 See Document 252, note 4. For Wavell's directive see Document
261, note 7.

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