397 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr A. T. Stirling, External Affairs Officer in London

Cablegram SL3 CANBERRA, 8 March 1942


Personal for Sir Stafford Cripps [1] alone.

1. A Joint Australian-New Zealand plan for- (a) A supreme Commander of Anzac Area, (b) A new Council at Washington, (c) An enlargement for the purpose of the Anzac area of joint Chiefs of Staff Committee at Washington, was forwarded to the Prime Minister [2] by Australia and New Zealand some days ago. [3]

2. We asked the Prime Minister to recommend the scheme to the President. [4] Instead, he seems to have sent the plan to Washington without comment.

3. In 294 from Dominions Office [5] (which Bruce [6] will show you) there is disturbing comment upon Admiral King [7], which rather suggests some attempt by Joint Staff Mission to impede our proposal.

4. If there were any basis for suggestion regarding King, difficulty could be overcome by retaining naval control of Anzac area in King. A vitally urgent matter is unified land and air control as it includes our countries which are definitely threatened with invasion.

5. Please do what you can to persuade the Prime Minister to recommend the scheme to the President and not to assign it to persons who are likely to cause delays which are now so obviously dangerous.

6. We have recently sent messages concerning India [8] and Russia [9] which you should see. It looks as though I am to be sent to London.

7. We are urgently in need of reinforcements and equipment here as you know. In particular, we need armoured units, fighter aircraft, high octane oil, anti-aircraft guns, radio direction finder equipment. Prime Minister said in House of Commons that limiting factor in despatch of munitions from United Kingdom was shipping:

yet shipping comes here from United Kingdom in ballast. Something may be done in these matters as an emergency measure by use of aircraft carriers.

8. General Bennett's [10] personal report of Japanese tactics and morale in Malaya and Singapore shows that if we are given this equipment rapidly we shall be able to smash the enemy in this theatre of war and perhaps turn the balance in favour of the Allies more quickly than might be expected. In short, the Anzac area, though gravely threatened at the moment, may give us a great opportunity to hasten ultimate victory. The spirit of the people of Australia and New Zealand is indomitable. All they need is further equipment.


1 U.K. Lord Privy Seal.

2 Winston Churchill.

3 See Document 388.

4 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

5 See Document 393, note 7.

6 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

7 Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy.

8 See cablegram 169 of 5. March on file AA:A1608, G41/1/7, i.

9 See Documents 350 and 380.

10 Formerly General Officer Commanding 8th Division A.I.F., Bennett had escaped from Singapore at the time of the surrender and returned to Australia.

[AA:A981, WAR 41B]