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410 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram P66 LONDON, 13 March 1942, 1.23 a.m.


In my following telegram [1] is contained text of telegram
received by Churchill from Roosevelt, setting out completely new
proposals for general conduct of whole World War. In the absence
of any other reply to your telegram 166 [2] which was despatched
to Roosevelt by Churchill as advised in my P. 61 [3], this seems
to me, though not expressly stated, to be meant to cover the
substance of telegram 166.

2. To remove complexity and simplify responsibility the President
suggests that the World War theatre should be divided into three

(a) the Atlantic under joint British and American responsibility;

(b) the Indian, Middle East and Mediterranean areas under British

(c) the Pacific, including China, under United States operational

The Pacific area includes Australia and New Zealand. Its western
boundary, though not stated by the President, would be the
boundary indicated in your telegram 41 [4] [for] [5] the Anzac
Area and agreed by the Pacific War Council.

3. This proposal places the whole responsibility for all
operational decisions in the Pacific area in the hands of the
United States Chiefs of Staff, subject to the overriding proviso
that the grand strategy of actual operations in the three areas
would remain, as they are to-day, the subject of study and
decisions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff both in Washington and
London. The joint committees on raw materials, shipping and
munitions would continue to function as they do now, all subject
to joint approval of Churchill and Roosevelt.

[4. Churchill, who will send full telegram containing his views
tomorrow [6], favours in principle the American proposals. He
thinks that there should be in London an active Pacific War
Council following the whole course of the war, and especially
making certain that the problems of every constituent country are
seen in proper perspective and making recommendations to both the
United States and British Chiefs of Staff with regard to
operations which deal with zones adjoining the boundary line. It
is felt that decisions for many activities along this region may
have to be made by either body or jointly.] Churchill is replying
to the President saying that his proposals are being considered by
the Pacific War Council and are being forwarded to the respective
Governments immediately.

5. The Dutch Government feels that the proposals have the merit of
greatly simplifying procedure, but are very keen on the Pacific
War Council functioning vigorously in London. They point out that
the idea of the original agreement between the Prime Minister and
President envisaged twin control, in which balance was held
between Washington and London, and that, to keep the centre of
gravity right, the Pacific War Council must continue to function
in London especially in view of the possibility that the course of
recovery of the territory ravished by Japan maybe from the
western, just as well as from the eastern side, and [control] of
both offensives will need to be closely coordinated.

6. The initial offensive through China must be through territory
under British responsibility and China also feels that there
should be a live representative body in London. Both countries
would welcome as well the suggested advisory representation in

that the operational simplification will be a great advantage if
it can be obtained without undue disadvantage in regard to
lessened control by constituent Governments and if the best use
can be made immediately of the experienced staffs available. If
Australia became an American responsibility and garrisoned by
large forces of American troops, it [undoubtedly would get high
priority in supplies from U.S.A. Unfortunately the most critical
period for Australia is during the next two or three months while
the British and American naval strengths are being restored.

During that period it might be a grave disadvantage to be changing
actual operational control in such a radical way, and efforts
should be made to ensure that the British Chiefs of Staff, who
have the problem of Australia's direct defence immediately under
their consideration as well as the Combined Chiefs of Staff,
should continue to exercise control till the new organisation, if
agreed to, is actually functioning satisfactorily.]

[8.] Another disadvantage of American control which must be
overcome is the fact that Washington will not be as responsive or
as subject to pressure by Australia and New Zealand as London is
in respect of reinforcements and supplies. Australia is an
integral part of the British Empire. In Great Britain the Empire
tradition is very strong. Migration to Australia and New Zealand
has been principally from Britain and innumerable relatives still
live there, and Australia and its outlook are as well-known as
their own. Britain has also been our great market for our primary
products which creates a common interest, and Australia has been
one of the greatest countries for the investment of British
capital as well as a great consumer of British manufactured goods.

9. On the other hand, Australia has been a great competitor on
British markets with American primary products. It would be many
years, if ever, before there was the same mutual sympathy,
knowledge, understanding and common interest between the great
mass of the people of Australia and America as between those of
Britain and Australia.

10. Therefore, it is essential that we should mobilise the support
of the whole British Empire to bring maximum pressure on United
States to assure the fullest consideration and quickest attention
to our military problems and needs by the American Chiefs of Staff
11. The full functioning of the Empire clearing houses of the
various supply organisations for munitions, raw materials and
shipping brought into being by Roosevelt's and Churchill's
agreement and the establishment of an Empire Production Council,
as suggested in my telegram 2079 [7], would assist in doing this.

12. The continuance in London of the Pacific War Council, which
contains Britain and New Zealand as members as well as ourselves,
would help more in this direction than a Washington body which did
not include Britain.

13. Therefore, without committing myself to details, I generally
endorse the President's proposal as varied by the additional
safeguards I have set out. His proposal has the great merit of
setting out the whole picture in proper perspective.


[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10485]

1 Document 411.

2 Document 388.

3 Document 393.

4 Dispatched 9 March. On file AA:A816, 14/301/223A.

5 Material in square brackets has been inserted from the London
copy on file AA:A2937, Far East position 1942.

6 See Document 417
7 Dispatched 6 March (AA:A3195, 1942, 1.9681).

[7.] My own immediate reactions to the President's proposals are
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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