Skip to main content

Historical documents

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

Cablegram S33 WASHINGTON, 7 April 1942, 11.37 p.m.


Meeting of the Pacific War Council took place this morning with
all representatives present.

(2) President [1] stated that 63,000 American troops were now in
Australia; 17,000 in New Caledonia will shortly be increased to
24,000 and [Fiji] [2] contained about 12,000 New Zealand and
Australian troops. He also stated that there were 1,000 American
aircraft in Australia of which 500 could be put into the air for
immediate operations. Whether this aircraft figure is correct I do
not know.

(3) The most important matter determined at the Council arose out
of an analysis of the munitions allocation position which I had
prepared for the President some days ago. [3] Briefly it advocated
the allotment of munitions to theatres of war rather than to
Governments as at present. The matter was discussed at length and
at the conclusion the President sent a direction to the Chiefs of
Staff to report immediately upon a system of allocation based on
theatres on the lines of my suggestions. Such a system would have
distinct advantages in that it would ensure allocation of
munitions to various theatres according to strategic needs.

Further it would ensure that full information of military facts of
each theatre including the munitions on hand would be before the
allocating authorities and should thus ensure more scientific
allocations. Finally it would simplify the present complex and
confused system of allocation and generally lead to a better
appreciation of the position and more direct action.

(4) At present the whole of Canada's allocation goes under
contract arrangements to the United Kingdom and other countries
not including Australia. In reply to my representations Canada has
expressed a desire to assist Australia and I am endeavouring to
get Mackenzie King [4] to support the immediate adoption of the
new allocations system at the next War Council meeting.

(5) A possible limiting factor in obtaining increased supplies is
the proposal regarding the new front [5] and the need for
collecting reserves for operations thereon.

(6) I have cabled separately on the Russian boundary position. [6]
The President stated he was doing everything possible in
connection with the protection of Madagascar but he emphasized
that during this year we have got to take calculated risks in
certain places, otherwise we will be unsafe in every place.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 233
3 See Evatt's memorandum of 5 April on the file cited in note 2.

4 Canadian Prime Minister.

5 In northern Europe. See also Document 462, note 2.

6 See Document 459.

[AA:A981, WAR 41B]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top