411 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram P67 LONDON, 13 March 1942, 2.01 a.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE HIMSELF ALONE MOST SECRET

Reference P. 66 [1] following is substance of telegram from President [2] to the Prime Minister. [3] Begins:

The complexity of the present operational command set-up and of political set-up is causing him concern. The arrangements decided in January for the whole south west Pacific area have largely become obsolescent. He proposes following simplification:-

1. The United States to assume operational responsibility for the Pacific theatre. Military decisions of an operational nature, either Army, Navy or Air, for the area as a whole will be made by the United States Chiefs of Staff in Washington. There will be set up in Washington an advisory body on operational matters consisting of members from Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands East Indies and China under the chairmanship of an American. The President makes suggestion that operational functions of Pacific War Council including those of Supply might operate in Washington whilst the political functions should operate in London through existing Council. Supreme Command in Pacific Area would be American. Local Command in Australia and in New Zealand would be under an Australian and New Zealander respectively. Local Command in China would remain under the Generalissimo. [4] In the Netherlands East Indies Command will be given to a Dutchman if later an offensive develops in that area.

By the above arrangements immediate military and operational decisions would be determined by the American Supreme Commander for whole Pacific Area under supervision of the United States Chiefs of Staff in Washington, Similarly methods of regaining the offensive would also be decided. For example, this would include attacks on Japan proper from various bases or in a north westerly direction from Australia, and New Zealand, thus the Pacific Area would be a definite American responsibility, the British being relieved of any tasks other than supplement[ing] [5] American efforts by the supply of war material where possible.

2. There would be a middle area extending from Singapore to the Mediterranean which would be a British responsibility, it being understood, however, that Australia and New Zealand would give as much assistance to this area as their Governments could manage and the Americans would allocate to it all possible munitions and merchant ships.

3. The third main area would include the protection of the waters of the north and south Atlantic and plans for establishment of a front in Europe. This area would be a joint responsibility of the United States and Britain.

4. In the middle area, which is under British control, the Americans would not propose to send troops or aircraft but would wish to use the air communications for their planes on the way to China.

5. The grand strategy of actual operations in all three areas would remain the subject of study and decisions by the Combined Staffs in Washington and London. The joint Committees on shipping, on raw materials and on munitions would continue as at present, the whole being subject to joint approval of the President and the Prime Minister. Ends.

PAGE

1 Document 410.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

3 Winston Churchill.

4 Chiang Kai-shek.

5 Corrected from the London copy on file AA:A2937, Far East position 1942

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10488]