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

Cablegram ET32 [1] LONDON, 28 May 1942, 1.55 a.m.


My telegrams Nos. E.T. 30 [2] and 31. [3]

Annexure B

Aide-memoire on strategy.

(1) The broad strategic policy of the United Nations was agreed
when the Prime Minister [4] and Chiefs of Staff visited America.

(2) This is contained in W.W.(1) and remains fundamentally
unchanged. (Note: W.W.(1) is code reference to Annex A. [5])
General Strategy
(3) Security of the United States and the United Kingdom as chief
armament producers of the Allied Nations.

(4) Security of sea communications essential as highways for raw
materials to producers and for moving armaments and forces to
fighting areas.

(5) Defeat of Germany whilst holding Japan. Only after Germany's
defeat can the United Nations assemble superior force against

(6) Keep Russia fighting effectively as the greatest single
contribution to the rapid defeat of Germany. This involves high
priority in provision and despatch of arms and equipment to the
Russians for the Eastern front, combined with raids and intensive
air operations on the Western front, with the object of containing
German land and air forces.

Middle East and India
(7) Strategically one theatre. Major enemy success in either
endangers the other since it would prejudice vital oil supplies
and communications on which both theatres depend. The loss of
either would lead eventually to the Germans and the Japanese
joining hands and thus to the indefinite postponement of the final

The Middle East
(8) The Axis threat now present in the Western Desert up to 14
divisions. Potential threat to the northern flank following the
defeat of Russia and the failure of Turkey to preserve neutrality.

(9) The strength of forces now in the Middle East seriously
reduced by reinforcements sent to the Far East and India and is
now quite insufficient to secure the Middle East both in the West
and in the North where we are compelled to rely on the Russians
holding in the Caucasus.

Malta-keypoint for both defence and offence-now seriously
threatened by shortage of supplies.

(10) If Japan adopts a bold policy, India and consequently Middle
East are in grave danger. Japanese now on threshold of North East
India-forces available to us inadequate in training and equipment
and particularly weak in the air. We are building up our forces as
fast as we can to meet this immediate threat.

Indian Ocean
(11) Upon secur[e] [6] sea [communications] in the Indian Ocean
depend[s] our ability to maintain forces in both India and Middle
East, supply these theatres with oil from Persia and keep open the
Western supply routes to Australia.

(12) Despite all our efforts naval forces which can be
concentrated in Indian Ocean for some time to come will be
inadequate to meet the possible scale of Japanese attack as
evidenced by recent penetration into the Bay of Bengal.

Policy for the time being is to retain the fleet in being as a
deterrent whilst the Americans [contain] as much of the Japanese
Naval Force in the Pacific as the[ir] mean[s] allow.

(13) Capture of Diego Suarez was a[n] essential insurance against
Japanese aggression or Vichy collaboration providing the Axis with
a base from which to cut our Indian Ocean communications.

(14) Full scale invasion of Australia unlikely because:-

(a) It involves an enormous additional commitment.

(b) Lack of communications rules out land invasion from Northern

(c) It would involve great risks to the invader of eastern or
southern Australia by sea in the face of the United States Fleet,
with the probable addition of strong British Naval Forces.

(d) Japan can probably accomplish her main object, the
consolidation of her Asiatic co-prosperity sphere, more easily and
cheaply by placing herself astride the American-Australian lines
of communication.

(e) Japanese must be prepared for conflict with Russia.

(f) Operations against India and China from [Burma] would bring
greater profit to the Japanese than would the control of Australia
and with infinitely less risk to their naval forces, on which they
must count to retain their ill-gotten gains.

(15) Apart from our intention of giving Australia all practicable
help, we depend on her as a base for the final offensive against
Japan. Nevertheless vitally essential that the utmost care is
taken in relating her defence requirements to our general war
strategy and to our forecast of enemy intentions.

1 Repeated to the Legation in Washington (see copy on file
AA:A3300, 228).

2 Document 500.

3 See Document 497, note 2.

4 Winston Churchill.

5 i.e. cablegram ET31 (cited in note 3).

6 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
copy in Flinders University Library: Evatt Papers, Cables to and
from Dr Evatt, March-May 1942.

[AA:A4764, 2]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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