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458 Mr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram S31 WASHINGTON, 7 April 1942, 1.45 a.m.


1. There are several matters to which I desire to draw your

(a) Press accounts from Australia of air fighting are still in
very optimistic terms as though air reserves were very great and
we were in a position to commence an offensive. I know this is not
the true position and extravagant colour such as this handicaps us
at this end. On the other hand I realize equally the danger of
gloomy comment. Care will need to be exercised and a balanced view
struck and presented. [1]

(b) Two newspaper representatives saw me on Saturday and asked if
there were any truth in statements which had been made to them
from Australia that there was trouble between MacArthur [2] and
some Australian generals. I firmly denied this and cannot believe
that there is any substance in it. MacArthur is our pivot and it
would be disastrous if he did not receive the fullest measure of
support from all. He is a national hero here and from all accounts
he seems the type to have the courage to declare publicly if
necessary that he was not receiving adequate support from
Australia or that dissension existed. Any such action on his part
would of course react disadvantageously against us. I said that
there was no truth in the suggestion. In view of the personal
interrogation by these pressmen I feel it is necessary that you
should be fully aware of the rumours so that all concerned can be
on their guard and strong action taken should there be the
slightest suggestion of non-cooperation. [3]

(c) Van Mook's [4] last comments much publicised here and are most
disturbing. He over-emphasizes Australia's safety and stresses the
parlous position of Burma. Hodgson [5] knows there is a certain
Dutch official [6] in Australia from whom Australia can expect
nothing but opposition and I imagine Van Mook still has contact
with that person. We have had a great deal of trouble here over
the Dutch aircraft and I regret to say that there is little
evidence of substantial support from Van Mook.

2. With reference to paragraph (7) my telegram P.M.S. 23 [7] I
have been informed by Nash [8] that he actually did approach
Marshall [9] and press that the first division should go to New
Zealand rather than to Australia. I thought it expedient not to
raise an open dispute with New Zealand before the army authorities
or council here and I at once told Nash that both countries would
be prejudiced if this kind of lobbying continued. I take it that,
as suggested in my telegram referred to above, General MacArthur
has taken such action as he deems necessary.

3. I shall probably see the President [10] today regarding
MacArthur-Brett appreciation. [11]

4. War Council meets on Tuesday morning and I am leaving for
Canada in the afternoon at Mackenzie King's [12] express
invitation. I will meet his War Cabinet on Wednesday and Thursday,
returning here at the week-end. My main object of the visit to
Canada is to endeavour to get some contribution to Australia on
the lines suggested by Odlum [13] and to review the system of
munitions allocations. Canada's Minister of Munitions has written
to me stating that the Canadian Government greatly desires to send
us munitions but that they are prevented from doing so by binding
commitments to the United Kingdom. [14]

5. Mackenzie King will probably attend Pacific Council here on
Monday week. After that meeting I propose to prepare to leave for
England together with my wife, Smith [15] and Robinson. [1]6 While
I am in England meetings of the War Council could temporarily be
attended by Glasgow[17] with Smart [18] who because of their long
experience will be of assistance. I shall instruct them closely as
to the position.

6. I have carefully considered question of a permanent successor
to Casey' 9 and think you should seriously consider Gorman. [20]
He is a good advocate with practical experience of war. He has
also a thorough Australian outlook which is absolutely essential
here. You know his qualities. We made a contract with him for the
Netherlands East Indies and I believe his appointment here would
be very popular with Americans. The matter need not be settled
finally for a little time.

1 Evatt had previously cabled Curtin on 31 March to warn him that
over-optimistic statements on the war situation made it more
difficult to obtain supplies in the United States. Evatt added:

'Immediately any success is reported here, it is seized upon by
other contenders for supplies as a reason for cutting down ours
and increasing theirs'. See cablegram PMS18 (AA: A3195, 1942,

2 Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area.

3 Curtin replied on 11 April that there was no truth in these
suggestions and that: 'On the contrary statements have been
published regarding the cordial manner in which they are
cooperating.' See cablegram [PM]39 on file AA:A981, War 33,
attachment C.

4 Former Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East

5 Secretary of the External Affairs Dept.

6 Probably Tom Elink Schuurman, Netherlands Consul-General in
Australia. Evatt had earlier opposed a suggestion that Elink
Schuurman should be appointed Netherlands Minister to Australia
(see Evatt's cablegram 353 to S. M. Bruce of 15 November 1941 on
file AA:M100, November 1941)
7 Document 451.

8 N.Z. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Washington.

9 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

10 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

11 See Document 456.

12 Canadian Prime Minister.

13 Canadian High Commissioner in Australia.

14 C. D. Howe's letter has not been found.

15 A. S. V. Smith, Secretary of the Supply and Development Dept.

16 Australian businessman and adviser to Evatt on his overseas

17 High Commissioner in Canada.

18 Head of Australian Military Mission to Combined Chiefs of
Staff, Washington.

19 As Minister to the United States.

20 See Document 279, note 2.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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