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Historical documents

18 Attlee to Curtin

Cablegram 548 LONDON, 6 August 1942, 9 p.m.


Your Johcu No. 38. [1]

The Prime Minister has asked me to send you the following

I much appreciate your decision to provide additional drafts for
your 9th Division. I am informing the Commander-in-Chief, Middle

2. I can assure you that the importance of the Pacific, both as
regards the defence of Australia and future offensive operations
against Japan, is fully realised both by myself and the Chiefs of
Staff, and I hoped that this was made clear to Dr. Evatt at the
War Cabinet meeting in May at which strategic considerations
affecting the defence of Australia were discussed. I then stated
that, though Australia was placed in an American sphere of
strategic responsibility, we did not regard our obligations to do
what we could to help Australia as being lessened in any way.

Practical proof of this was our agreement to despatch, at real
sacrifice to ourselves, the three Spitfire squadrons from the
United Kingdom as a special contribution to Australia, despite
numerous and pressing commitments elsewhere.

3. The review of the Chiefs of Staff contained in my No. 532 [2]
dwelt mainly on the strategic position in the Middle East because
it was considered that when you sent your Johcu 37 [3] you might

not be aware of the very critical situation existing in the Middle
East and the importance of safeguarding the oil supplies at
Abadan, on which depend the security of India and the Indian
Ocean, the loss of which would seriously affect Australia. It did
not therefore set out to be an appreciation of the position in the
Pacific, which, however, I can assure you is very much in our
minds in every stage of planning.

4. We share your concern about developing the necessary air
strength in Australia and are in constant communication with our
representatives in Washington on the subject. Both during the
negotiation of the new air agreement and since its conclusion, the
United States of America Chiefs of Staff have been pressed to
give, and have given, assurances that adequate measures would be
taken to ensure the safety of Australia and the provision of the
necessary equipment. As an essential first step United States of
America Chiefs of Staff have been urged to define, and present for
the agreement of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the minimum
strategic requirements for the defence of the South-West Pacific
Area which is a sphere of United States of America strategic
responsibility. We know this problem is now under consideration by
the United States of America Chiefs of Staff who, no doubt, give
due weight to the opinions of General MacArthur, but as you are
aware there has not been up to the present any decision as to the
specific number of squadrons to be allocated to the R.A.A.F. in

As soon as the strategic requirements are defined, they will be
presented to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on which body our
representatives have instructions to ensure that the interests of
the Dominions are adequately safeguarded.

1 Document 12.

2 Document 10.

3 Document 7.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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