213 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, and to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 1188 WASHINGTON, 22 December 1941, 12.38 a.m.


Reference my telegram No. 1167. [2] Certain discussions will start here on December 22/23, of which you will be aware. [3] I was made aware of them by the British Ambassador [4] and by the President on condition I made no reference to them by telegram in any way until today for security reasons. In accepting this limitation, I asked that the Australian Government might be advised from direct sources which I was assured would be done.

I sent my telegram No. 1185 [5] in the light of the above- mentioned forthcoming discussions.

Initial contact is likely to begin at the equivalent of 11a.m.

December 23rd Australian Eastern Standard Time.

One early important matter that will undoubtedly be discussed will be that of [regional] commands. Although naturally I have no direct authoritative information, I have reason to believe that the President will try very hard to have an American accepted as commander-in-chief in the Pacific and the Far East theatre, and that General MacArthur [6] (now in the Philippines) will probably be the individual nominated. I understand that, although not devoid of human frailities, he is a good man.

It seems clear that the President will insist that one or other of the important regional commands (European, Atlantic, African combined or Pacific Far East) must go to America and Pacific Far East Command seems the obvious one.

If I am right in the above surmise (and it is no more than a surmise) then I venture to suggest that the interests of all concerned will be served by accepting the situation gracefully, even to the extent of making the suggestion ourselves in the interest of future harmonious working together.

I would assume (this is surmise) that the countries principally concerned would have a senior staff officer or officers on the staff of each commander-in-chief and that our Australian interests would be looked after in that way.

It occurs to me as not impossible that the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of the Pacific and the Far East might be in Australia. It seems reasonably clear that the Japanese operations which will have to be coped with will be in the western and probably particularly in the south-western Pacific rather than in the Pacific generally. The references by the President and others to Australia being used as a 'Bridge-head or Base' would seem to indicate the desirability of the commander-in-chief being located there.

I would expect, however, that Honolulu or San Fancisco would be considered as possibilities (possibly in the American eye a more desirable possibility) than Australia, with a deputy of the commander-in-chief in Australia to exercise local command.

In any event it seems to me that Singapore or Manila are too localised to be desirable headquarters. Subject to your views, I would think that there are obvious advantages in the commander-in- chief being located in Australia.

No doubt you will advise me of your views and instructions on this and related matters. If you agree generally with the contents of this telegram I would be grateful for the earliest possible advice as the seed will need to be sown.

1 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 101.

2 Document 204 3 Winston Churchill arrived in Washington on 22 December for meetings with President Roosevelt. The Commonwealth Govt does not appear to have been informed of Churchill's mission prior to the receipt of this cablegram.

4 Lord Halifax.

5 Document 210.

6 Commander, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East.

[AA:A981, WAR 54]