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319 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 102 [1] CANBERRA, 6 February 1942


Following for the Prime Minister [2] from the Prime Minister.

Your telegram 126. [3]

1. As Australian representation in the United Kingdom War Cabinet
has now been agreed to we consider that any views as to
constitutional practice or procedure can be settled as we go
along. As you said in the House of Commons, there should be no
problems which cannot be got over with goodwill. [4]

2. I desire to have it on record, however, that the Advisory War
Council does not agree with your view on the constitutional
position. This, in its opinion, depends upon the convention
existing at any particular time and is necessarily subject to
development and change. [5]

3. We still adhere to our view regarding a Pacific War Council
constituted as proposed by us, with functions as suggested and
located at Washington. However, in view of the urgency of the
position in the Pacific, we agree to the Council being established
in London. The accredited Australian representative [6] will be
our member.

4. We cannot fail to point out, however, the following experiences
which support our view on the need for a body for the direction of
the whole war in the Pacific and not only the A.B.D.A. Area:-

(i) The original failure to provide for the Anzac Naval Area and
its protection and to relate it to the remainder of the Pacific

(ii) The interrelation of naval operations against Japanese bases
in the Pacific Islands and operations against the Japanese
southwards advance against New Guinea.

(iii) The importance of the maintenance of the American line of
communication across the Pacific and the security of Australia as
a base for operations as exemplified by the following:-

(a) The threat to Port Moresby, which controls the Torres Strait
as the line of supply to Darwin, the Netherlands East Indies and
Australia, and the request for American aid from aircraft in

(b) Representations for American aid for the defence of New
Caledonia which, with the Solomons and New Hebrides, are astride
the direct line of supply from United States of America and offer
advanced bases for an attack on Australia.

(c) Representations for American aid through you to ensure the
security of Australia as a base for offensive operations against
Japan and a reinsurance against the loss of Singapore, the islands
of the Malay Barrier or seapower through a fleet action.

(iv) The request of the Supreme Commander [7] for an A.I.F.

battalion for Koepang, following the despatch of a machine gun
battalion to Singapore, and the consequential redistribution of
forces between the Darwin area and other parts of Australia.

5. We consider that our vital interests and the strength of our
forces in the A.B.D.A. Area, the continent of Australia and the
Anzac Area are indissolubly linked and that a Supreme Council and
a combined staff on which we are represented afford the
appropriate machinery for the higher direction of the war in the

6. We do not agree with the President's [8] view in No. 144 [9]
that it is the best method to deal with the political and
governmental aspects in London and the military in Washington. The
instances quoted above do not support the view quoted that the
present organisation is functioning efficiently in relation to
Dominion as well as United Kingdom matters.

7. We appreciate the President's suggestion regarding
collaboration with the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee at
Washington on matters relating to the A.B.D.A. Area, and are
considering strengthening our Service representation in
Washington. The limitations of the Committee's functions to the
A.B.D.A. Area emphasizes our view on the too limited approach to
Pacific strategy.

8. In regard to the Anglo-American machinery to deal with
munitions assignments and raw materials, it is noted from D.40
[10] that these bodies will confer with other representatives of
the United Nations, but that no provision is made for our
representation on the controlling authority. We desire the fullest
opportunity for stating what we can contribute to the common pool
from Australian productive capacity and resources of raw materials
and what we require to meet our needs to make our war effort fully
effective. We are appointing the accredited representatives [sic]
of the Government in London and the Director-General of War
Supplies Procurement [11] in Washington as our representatives for
consultation by the Raw Materials and Munitions Assignment


1 Repeated to the Minister to the United States as no. 23 (see
copy on file AA:A3300, 220).

2 Winston Churchill.

3 Dispatched 28 January. On file AA:A2680, 14/1942. It stated that
formal 'membership' of the U.K. War Cabinet by a member of another
Govt was constitutionally impossible, as the U.K. Cabinet was
directly responsible to the U.K. Parliament. However, the
accredited representative of the Commonwealth Govt would have a
full right to be heard in the U.K. War Cabinet in the formulation
and direction of policy.

4 See Churchill's speech of 27 January in House of Commons
Parliamentary Debates, 5th series, vol. 377, col. 614.

5 See Advisory War Council minute 725 of 30 January in AA:A2682,
vol. 4.

6 Sir Earle Page.

7 General Sir Archibald Wavell.

8 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

9 Dispatched 2 February. In Flinders University Library: Evatt
Papers, Attorney-General's Dept file M2, Machinery including
Australian New Zealand plan.

10 Dispatched 26 January. On file AA:A1608, L41/1/5. It outlined
pooling arrangements for munitions, shipping and raw materials
between the United States and the United Kingdom.

11 L. R. Macgregor.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.3709]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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