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

Cablegram ET33 [1] LONDON, 28 May 1942, 1.40 a.m.


Following is letter [2] just received from Prime Minister's [3]
Chief of Staff General Ismay referred to in previous cable. [4]
Paragraph [1 refers to the] [5] instruction to Dill [6] in

Begins-It may be of assistance, both to you and to us, if I set
down on paper the principal results which have arisen from your
discussions with the Prime Minister and the War Cabinet.

These results have not been achieved without sacrifice on the part
of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, but this
sacrifice is willingly made in the full spirit of brotherhood, and
in recognition of the support which the mother country has
received from Australia.

(1) Although Australia, forming part of the south-west Pacific
area, is in the sphere of United States strategical
responsibility, it is the firm intention of His Majesty's
Government in the United Kingdom that this circumstance will not
in any way lessen their regard for Australian interests and their
solicitude for her safety. Instructions to this effect have been
sent to Field Marshal Sir John Dill, and he has been told to press
the United States Chiefs of Staff for assurances that measures
will be taken to ensure the safety of Australia. This is in accord
with the statement made by War Cabinet to General Marshall [7]
during his recent visit, that the plan which he proposed was
accepted on the understanding that adequate forces must be
allocated to safeguard the defence of Australia and the island
bases connecting that country with the United States.

(2) Mr. Churchill reaffirmed, and the War Cabinet endorsed the
following undertaking given to the Prime Ministers of Australia
[8] and New Zealand [9] in his telegram of August 11th, 1940 [10]:

'If, however, contrary to prudence and self-interest Japan set
about invading Australia or New Zealand on a large scale, I have
the explicit authority of the Cabinet to assure you that we should
then cut losses in the Mediterranean and proceed to your aid,
sacrificing every interest except only the defence and feeding of
this island on which all depends.'
(3) Recognizing the need for accelerating the flow of army
equipment to Australia, to make good deficiencies, His Majesty's
Government in the United Kingdom have undertaken to assure
delivery for shipment in June or July of important equipment
agreed upon by yourself and Mr. Lyttelton. [11] This may entail
some slight diminution of assignments in [subsequent] month[s] but
it is the intention of His Majesty's Government in United Kingdom
to do their utmost to ensure that equipment which the Australian
forces need will be sent to them. Special steps have been, and
will continue to be, taken to speed up shipment of American
equipment assigned to Australia.

(4) Finally, at the instance of the Prime Minister, United Kingdom
Government has decided to adopt a special plan for air support of
Australia, under which a wing of three Spitfire squadrons complete
with aircraft, two of the squadrons being R.A.A.F. and one R.A.F.,
will be shipped to Australia in a convoy leaving in the middle of
June and will be fully maintained. This special reinforcement of
well established squadrons is over and above any assignment of
aircraft which may be made from United Kingdom, or which may be
secured for Australia from output of United States of America. It
is an expression of mutual support which should bind together the
countries of the Empire and will go some way towards repaying the
sacrifices made by Australia in Imperial cause. Ends.

1 Repeated to A. S. V. Smith, Secretary of the Supply and
Development Dept (in Washington) as no. 46 (see copy on file
AA:A3300, 228).

2 The original letter is in Flinders University Library: Evatt
Papers, Cables to and from Dr Evatt, March-May 1942.

3 Winston Churchill.

4 Document 500.

5 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the
copy of the cablegram on the file cited in note 2.

6 Leader of the U.K. Joint Staff Mission in Washington.

7 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

8 Then R. G. Menzies.

9 Peter Fraser.

10 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV,
Document 64.

11 U.K. Minister of Production.

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