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265 Curtin to Churchill

Cablegram Johcu 82 CANBERRA, 1 September 1944


I thank you for your cablegram No. Winch 5 [1] and for the
information which you furnished me regarding the conclusions of
the Defence Committee on the strategy for the war against Japan.

2. I note the alternative suggestion in paragraph 10 of the
telegram to Washington for the formation of a British Empire Task
Force under a British Commander, consisting of British, Australian
and New Zealand land, sea and air forces, to operate in the
Southwest Pacific under General MacArthur's supreme command.

3. You will recall that when the question of basing United Kingdom
Forces on Australia was under discussion at the meeting of Prime
Ministers in London, I pointed out in my paper of 3rd May [2] that
it would be necessary to have regard to the existing Allied and
Australian set-up in the Southwest Pacific Area in respect of the
system of command. This aspect was previously mentioned in my
cablegram 68 of 22nd March, 1944. [3] In the subsequent discussion
at the Conference on 26th May [4] of the strategy for the war
against Japan, I indicated that it was not possible for me, in the
absence of any discussion with my colleagues in Australia, to
commit myself to any changes in the command arrangements for the
Southwest Pacific Area. I also stated that there was a danger of
the gravest misunderstanding with the United States if Australian
Forces were taken away from General MacArthur's direct command and
placed under a new Commander.

4. Upon my return to Australia, these aspects were brought to the
notice of War Cabinet [5] and the Advisory War Council [6], and
they have both affirmed that, in connection with the forthcoming
operations against the Philippines, there should be no variation
in the existing assignment to the Commander-in-Chief, Southwest
Pacific Area, of operational control of the Australian Defence

5. In view of the special significance to Australia of the
alternative suggestion in paragraph 10, and our discussions in
London, I feel that there should have been consultation between us
before communication of the proposal to the United States Chiefs
of Staff. I am sure you will appreciate the importance which we
attach to this matter and I trust that, when the views of the
United States Chiefs of Staff have been received, there will be
further consultation between us before any action is taken on this

6. You will be aware, from the cablegram despatched on the
official level to the Deputy Secretary (Military) to the United
Kingdom War Cabinet on 26th August [7] that the examination by
British and Australian staffs into the feasibility of basing
British Forces on Australia has been completed, and that a copy of
the report is being forwarded to London by air mail. [8] The
consideration of this report by our Governments and the further
detailed examination of the Service plans by the Australian civil
authorities concerned will now presumably await the decisions
reached on the strategical proposals outlined in your cablegram.


1 Document 254.

2 In AA:A6712, 1944, Top Secret, PMM(44)2.

3 Document 89.

4 Document 167.

5 See War Cabinet minute 3654 of 5 July, in AA:A2673, vol. 15.

6 See Advisory War Council minute 1402 of 5 July, in AA:A2682,
vol. 8.

7 See Shedden's cablegram 247 to Ismay, on file AA:A5954, box 590.

8 Report by the Chiefs of Staff entitled 'The Basing of U.K.

Forces on Australia', submitted to Curtin on 23 August. On file
AA:A5954, box 591.

[AA:A5954, BOX 560]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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