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

Cablegram [PM]10 [1] CANBERRA, 29 March 1942


Your cablegram P.M. 5 of 25th March. [2] New Zealand have repeated
to us their comments to Nash [3] on the proposal of the Combined
Chiefs of Staff Committee for the division of the Pacific theatre
into a south-west Pacific area under General MacArthur and a
southern Pacific area directly under Washington. Our Chiefs of
Staff have considered this proposal in the light of the New
Zealand Government's observations and have submitted the following

'The Chiefs of Staff are strongly opposed to the proposed
subdivision of the Pacific area. We agree with the comments of the
Prime Minister of New Zealand and would urge the following
additional considerations against the proposal. It is essential to
Australia that New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia should be in
the same area as Australia, because they are all interdependent
and from every point of view must be considered together.

Australia's line of communications with the United States is
through New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia, and the most
effective and economic use of the forces available to defend the
whole area depends upon there being unity of command so that the
speedy reinforcement of any points threatened can be effected as
2. For the reasons set out in the above report, we are opposed to
the proposed division of the Pacific theatre, involving the
separation of Australia from New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia.

It is desired that you co-operate with Nash on this question. [4]

3. The Chiefs of Staff have also furnished the following
additional observations, which are communicated for your
information and for discussion with the Combined Chiefs of Staff
or Admiral King [5] [as] appropriate:-

'While adhering to the proposals already made by the Governments
of Australia and New Zealand for the creation of an Anzac Area
rather than what is now proposed from Washington, we would prefer
that all the naval forces in the Pacific should be put directly
under the command of the United States Chiefs of Staff with a view
to ensuring the greatest concentration of naval forces at the
right place and time. This, of course, would involve Admiral
Glassford's [6] force (comprising United States units from ABDA
Area now based on Fremantle) being placed under the command of
Admiral Leary.' [7]


1 Repeated to the N.Z. Prime Minister (Peter Fraser) as No. 105.

2 Document 440.

3 N.Z. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Washington. See
Fraser's cablegram 96 of 26 March (AA:A3195, 1942, 1.12299), which
outlined New Zealand's objections to the separation of the
Australian and New Zealand strategical area.

4 Evatt replied on 30 March (cablegram PMS15 on file AA:A816,
14/30/223A) that he entirely agreed with the Chiefs of Staff
appraisal and would take up the matter with Nash and the
appropriate authorities. He added: 'The real trouble seems to lie
in the fact that the American Army and Navy are somewhat jealous
of each other's authority. The question however would be rendered
more susceptible of solution once the Pacific Council is
5 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy.

6 Commander, U.S. naval forces, South-West Pacific.

7 Commander, Anzac Naval Force. Evatt replied on 31 March
(cablegram PMS20 on the file cited in note 4) that 'an order has
been given to Admiral Glassford placing his forces under the
command of Admiral Leary, and Admiral Leary has been directed to
co-ordinate all of his activities under the Supreme Command of
General MacArthur'.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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