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120 Curtin to Churchill

Cablegram Johcu 3 [1] CANBERRA, 17 February 1943


I am very grateful for your renewed invitation to visit the United
Kingdom. [2] The position at the moment is that Parliament is
faced with a rather lengthy session on an important list of bills.

2. In the immediate future the Government has also to make a
review of our war effort in regard to our resources in man and
womanpower and material means, in relation to the objectives we
have set before ourselves and our capacity to fulfil them. A new
feature of the maintenance of our land forces is the high rate of
wastage in tropical warfare. The casualties from tropical diseases
in the recent campaign were 23,000 as against 5,500 battle
casualties. This has an important bearing on our resources for
coping with a holding strategy in the Pacific with limited

3. I shall treat your invitation as an open one and keep it in
mind in the light of the circumstances here.

4. We greatly admire the energy displayed by you in maintaining
contact with the President, the Commanders in the African theatre,
and your enterprise in visiting our friends in Russia and Turkey.

[3] We were very heartened by your recent review [4], and I hope
that early and speedy success will come to you in Europe in 1943.

The Japanese have proved a tough nut to crack in New Guinea. They
are stubborn defenders and fight to the last. They have
practically to be rooted out and killed, and in jungle warfare
this is a difficult and costly business. The Japanese are now
concentrating on strengthening their line extending from Ambon,
Timor, Wewak, Madang, Finschhafen, Lae, Salamaua, Gasmata, Buin
and Faisi. These are the outer screen which protect the main base
at Rabaul. I hope our resources allotted to the South-West Pacific
Area will be sufficient to prevent them becoming too consolidated.

This consideration explains our recent submission regarding
additional operational and transport planes. [5]

5. With every good wish for sustained energy and strength in your
great responsibilities.


1 This cablegram was subsequently renumbered Johcu 56. See Prime
Minister's Dept outward cablegram register (AA:A3643, 8).

2 See Document 119.

3 After the Casablanca Conference Churchill went on to Turkey,
where he met President Inonu at Adana on 30 January. Churchill
returned to London on 7 February.

4 See the cablegrams cited in Document 117, note 2.

5 See Document 105.

[FA:A3196, 1943, 0.4751]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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