299 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs
Cablegram 148 WASHINGTON, 24 January 1942, 8.36 p.m.
IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET
1. I saw President  today and gave him copy of telegram to
Churchill contain[ed in]  P.M.'s Dept: Telegram 15. 
2. As information regarding American naval operation detail[ed] in
your numbered paragraph 8 is being treated as of highest order of
secrecy and is not supposed to be known to us here, I altered
early part of your paragraph 8 to read 'any projected American
naval operations in vicinity of [Gilbert] Islands if carried on
towards Japanese bases etc'.
3. President read your telegram carefully and said he could give
no immediate reply to specific matter[s] concerning United States
action (notably paragraphs 9, 11, 12, 13) but that he would have
whole telegram and particularly abovementioned paragraphs examined
by his Chiefs of Staff.
4. President's personal comments were as under.
5. He said that he had no knowledge of any proposed evacuation of
Malaya and Singapore but he assumed that in ordinary prudence such
plans would be prepared so as to be in a position to carry out
such an operation with least confusion should unfortunate
necessity arise. The drawing up of plans for evacuation did not
imply intention to evacuate.
6. He said that off-hand he could not agree that in [the] general
[interest] reinforcements should automatically go to N.E.I. and
not to Burma. Without detracting from importance of N.E.I. it was
essential to hold Burma as only link with China. He said
confidentially that China (with some American help and possibly
leadership) would very soon be in a position to attack Japanese
bases in Northern Indo-China.
7. President recognised the reference in your para. (8) (as
amended by me) and saw point and said that he would have it
considered at once.
8. He went on to speak of convoy carrying American forces for New
Caledonia and said during next fortnight while they were on water
if it were thought that any other area was in greater need of
reinforcements than New Caledonia it would be perfectly possible
to divert them to where they could be most usefully employed even
to Port Moresby, necessity to hold which he fully recognised.
9. In general he said they were doing all they could as quickly as
they could. The point was that at present there were not enough
aircraft or anything else to reinforce all threatened points.
United States was straining every nerve particularly to produce
aircraft, but for a couple of months there would be substantial
shortages in many theatres. He pointed out opening sentence of
your para. 11 and said 'urgent necessity for fighter aircraft
immediately' was cry from every quarter. So far as Australia and
A-B-D-A was concerned he thought they had done pretty well and
gave figures for American aircraft there and what was on the way.
President said he appreciated your concern but that looking at war
picture as a whole, as he was obliged to, and with knowledge of
what was in preparation, he had very little anxiety for security
of Australia itself. 10. American Chiefs of Staff will undoubtedly
discuss your proposals with British Chiefs of Staff
representatives here and as latter will get copy from London of
your telegram Johcu 21 , I have given copies to British Chiefs
of Staff here.
[AA:A981, WAR 33, ATTACHMENT B]