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421 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram SW 18 CANBERRA, 19 March 1942


For Minister for External Affairs from Prime Minister.

Begins: I shall be glad if you will seek an early opportunity of
conveying the following message from me to the President [1]:-

The Commonwealth Government are of the opinion that attacks on
Port Moresby, followed by attacks on the East coast of Australia
or New Caledonia, may take place shortly.

2. Such attacks will undoubtedly be carried out by a force
including carriers and transports.

3. Japanese forces already occupy forward bases on north coast of
New Guinea, in addition to Gasmata, Kessa and Rabaul.

4. Evidence accumulates that Rabaul is being consolidated as a
sub-marine base.

5. The above moves could be more satisfactorily countered if
adequate naval forces, including at least two carriers and
submarines, could be based nearer for a period.

6. Sydney provides a reasonably well protected base, with air
cover and warning, and would shorten the distance for supplies and
refuelling. 7. We wish to assure the President that we have every
confidence in Admiral Leary [2] and are completely satisfied with
the existing naval organisation, whereby Australian Naval forces
are under his operational command. We feel, however, that Admiral
Leary would be so much more in a position to strike effective
blows at Japanese forces in this area, if he had at least the
additional forces mentioned in paragraph 5 above, especially if
they were operating from a base within the immediate command, but
we venture to put forward this request directly through you. Ends.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 Commander, Allied naval forces in the Anzac Area.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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