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229 Dixon to Curtin

Cablegram S90 WASHINGTON, 24 June 1943, 9.45 p.m.


I had lunch with the President yesterday and during the
conversation he made a number of observations of interest. No one
else was present. He said that he regarded operations through
Burma as too difficult to give any hope of a successful attack on
Japan by that route: the use of China, however, as a means of
attacking Japan by air remained essential. He had been much
concerned at the reports from China and at the messages he had
received from the Generalissimo. [1] He had conferred with
Stilwell and Chennault as to what could be done and had insisted
that notwithstanding the difficulties 7,000 tons a month of
supplies and munitions should be transported by air for their

He had discussed with Churchill the possibility of operating
against the Japanese south of Rangoon. Churchill had raised the
question whether an approach might be made through Sumatra. He
himself felt that a better course might be [to] retake Timor. It
would protect the north western side of Australia and give air
bases for further attacks. He doubted whether the Japanese had
very large forces in Timor. He inquired about the state of
development of New Caledonia and the extent of French settlement
there. I told him that apart from some agriculture in the valleys,
the grazing of cattle, the nickel mines in the mountains and the
winning of chrome on alluvial flats, I had not seen much
development. He said that the whole French situation was a source
of trouble and it was a question how some of their possessions
were to be dealt with after the war. For example he had told
Churchill that Dakar must be secured against possible hostile use
against any part of South America. He felt that the idea of
trusteeship of many such places ought to be used. The world would
need what he might call police stations. The United Nations was a
conception of great potential usefulness. Indeed he had said to
Churchill that he wanted Dakar not for United States but for the
United Nations as a strategical point of security. The French
could have it for administrative, commercial and general purposes,
but its military character might for instance be placed under the
control of United States and Brazil for the United Nations.

From the point of view of the Pacific, New Caledonia presented the
same problem. He wondered how Australia and New Zealand felt about
New Caledonia remaining after the war an exposed and undefended
strategical point. Perhaps the same sort of thing might be done
with it. It might be left in French hands to administer but the
United Nations might place with Australia and New Zealand the care
of its strategical and military use.

The President asked whether there was anything further about
airways. I took the opportunity of telling him of the great need
of some additional D.C.3s to maintain air communication within the
continent. He said that he had meant to refer to air routes from
United States to Australia. I said that there appeared to be need
of an alternative route through the Marquesas and that this view
was confirmed by the recent bombing of Canton Island, the garrison
of which was not large.

The President obtained from me a description of the nature of the
country I had seen in New Guinea, of the work done in establishing
and strengthening positions, laying down airfields and opening
communication, and of the measures taken against malaria.

He also said that Mrs. Roosevelt had formed a desire of visiting
the South-West Pacific Area. He had discussed it with her. He had
told her that she ought not to go into the very forward areas
because of the difficulties her doing so would make for those
responsible there. Her idea included seeing as many United States
troops as possible. Any visit must be short but probably she could
go to various places on the East Coast of Australia. I mentioned
the flying times between Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra,

The President asked whether it was necessary to hold an election
and I replied that we had a written constitution which required


1 Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese Prime Minister.

[AA:A3300, 257]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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