260 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram 37 (extract) CANBERRA, 7 January 1942


I am quoting at the end of this cablegram the substance of a cable from the Prime Minister [1] to Churchill on the directive sent to Wavell [2] and certain supplementary observations, communicated by Churchill.

2. You will understand from the cablegram quoted that we are much disturbed at the procedure proposed to be adopted in relation to the highest decisions affecting the south-west Pacific. The method proposed not only fails to recognise our status, which might be overlooked; but also our great stake and tremendous responsibilities in connection with the area. In that area our soldiers will be engaged to an increasing extent. The unanimous opinion of the Advisory War Council here, which, as you know, includes both sides in politics, is that we cannot allow the scheme to go ahead without amendments designed to give us an equal voice in the final decisions. [3]

3. My general impression is that we are likely to get greater support from Roosevelt than from Churchill. In fact, I can hardly believe that President Roosevelt can know of the unfavourable reaction here to the scheme as agreed upon between himself and Churchill.

4. Our general point of view is shared by the N.E.I. Government, whatever may be said about the Netherlands Government in London.

We have told Dr. van Mook [4] who is leaving for Washington today what our views are.

5. I am certain that, unless the organisation is broadened out to be a true A.B.D.A. organisation instead of an A.B. organisation, the reaction will be very hostile indeed, especially in the event of further and probable setbacks.

6. I greatly fear that the propaganda of our Information Department as sent to you and broadcast to some extent from here to the United States has produced the impression that we are far stronger from a military point of view than is the actual case. I think some frank confession of the true position to President Roosevelt himself is desirable. To a large extent our resources have been devoted to theatres other than the south-west Pacific.

7. I need not add that you should present our views on this topic with the utmost vigour, with a view to ensuring that the machinery of collaboration will secure true and equal collaboration.

Frankly, we cannot afford to be side-tracked or short-circuited in the way now proposed.

8. On the recommendation of a Conference attended by Generals Brett [5], Brereton [6] and Barnes [7], War Cabinet has approved of the addition of an American representative to our Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the joint Planning Committee for Operations.

Australian Services and Americans are represented, has also been created with a Government Chairman to plan the provision of American requirements for the use of Australia as a base, along the lines indicated in the agreement.

[matter omitted] [9]


[AA:A981, WAR 54]

1 John Curtin.

2 See Document 252, note 4. For Wavell's directive see Document 261, note 7.

3 See minute 652 of 6 January in AA:A2682, vol. 4.

4 Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies.

5 Commander, U.S. Army Forces in Australia.

6 Brereton succeeded Brett on 12 January as Commander, U.S. Army Forces in Australia. On 15 January he assumed the additional duty of Air Commander in the A.B.D.A. Area.

7 Chief of Staff to General Brett.

8 See minute 1659 of 5 January in AA:A2673, vol. 10.

9 The remainder of the cablegram is published as Document 259.

[8] A Joint Planning Administrative Committee, on which the three