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48 Dixon to Curtin

Cablegram S140 WASHINGTON, 16 September 1942, 2.49 p.m.


I have received this morning the following reply dated yesterday
to your communications to the President. [1] Begins.

My dear Mr. Curtin. I have given very careful consideration to the
situation in the South-West Pacific Area as presented in your two
messages of Sept. 11th and fully appreciate the anxiety which you
must naturally feel with regard to the security of Australia.

It would appear from your messages that Mr. Churchill has already
communicated to you the decisions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff
in regard to the immediate employment of the British Eastern
Fleet. [2] This employment precludes reinforcement by British
forces of the United States Pacific Fleet at the present time.

Since it is clear that the United States Pacific Fleet is unable
to provide a superior naval force solely concerned with the
defence of Australia and New Zealand, the Combined Chiefs of Staff
have carefully considered the necessity for and possibility of
increasing the ground and air forces required for the territorial
defence of Australia.

On December 7th, 1941, Japan's gross shipping tonnage amounted to
6,350,000. By Sept. 1st, 1942, she had lost through sinkings about
990,000 tons, she had acquired through new construction 250,000
tons, capture and seizure 550,000 tons, resulting in a net loss of
190,000 tons. Present plans contemplate ever-increasing attacks by
United States Naval Forces against the Japanese lines of
communication, merchant shipping as well as naval units. If air
forces available in the South-West Pacific Area are similarly
concentrated on Japanese shipping, I anticipate the extent to
which the Japanese can assume and support operations in the South-
West Pacific Area will be continually decreasing.

It is estimated that the Japanese have at this time a maximum of
700,000 tons of shipping available for employment in large-scale
military operations, and that this shipping could support about
200,000 troops.

After considering all of the factors involved, I agree with the
conclusions of the Combined Chiefs of Staff that your present
armed forces, assuming that they are fully equipped and

effectively trained, are sufficient to defeat the present Japanese
force in New Guinea and to provide for the security of Australia
against an invasion on the scale that the Japanese are capable of
launching at this time or in the immediate future.

The present operations in the Solomons area are designed to
strengthen our position in lines of communications leading to
Australia and therefore, if successful, should contribute to its
security. Projected reinforcements for these operations will

further strengthen the Allied position in the South-West Pacific
and will create favourable conditions for more extensive
operations against the enemy as appropriate means become

Present commitments of shipping are such that it is not possible
to move additional troops to Australia now or in the immediate
future. Every effort is being made to ensure uninterrupted flow of
supplies, equipment and forces committed to your area, and I can
assure you that it will be my personal obligation that these
commitments will be fulfilled to alleviate the present position. I
regret that my reply cannot be more favourable. However, I am
confident that you appreciate fully the necessity of rigidly
pursuing our over-all strategy that envisages the early and
decisive defeat of Germany in order that we can quickly undertake
an 'all-out' effort in the Pacific.

Very sincerely, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ends.


1 See Document 43 and Document 44, note 8.

2 See Document 41.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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