435 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram PM[S]2 WASHINGTON, 22 March 1942


1. Today I had conferences with Marshall (Army Chief), King (Navy Chief) and all Australian officials in Washington.

2. Later was two hours with President and subsequently further two hours with Hopkins [1] who is obviously President's right hand man and with whom I am on excellent terms.

3. President discussed your communication relating to additional naval strength, especially carriers. [2] He expressed himself as in general agreement with your suggestion and promised to discuss the matter favourably with Admiral King. King is very air-minded and extremely pleased over recent New Guinea operations which he ascribed as due mainly to the Navy's skilful carrier action.

4. Am to have further conference with the President on Monday or Tuesday to discuss A.I.F. position. Hopkins' view is that it might be desirable to make bargain over the matter.

In the meantime, I should advise against definite reply regarding proposal [to retain] [3] the 9th Division [in the] Middle East as that would be counter to the clear understanding which Shedden [4] and I tried to express in cable. [5]

5. President is now inclined to favour the establishment of the War Council at Washington on Governmental plane. Therefore it would be inadvisable to accept a merely Military Council here. I expect matter to be ready for finality next week.

6. At the same time, the President seems not unfavourable to the formation of broader Chiefs of Staff Committee with representation of Australia thereon.

7. MacArthur's [6] first appreciation reached General Marshall this morning. The stronger these representations are couched the better, as the public would condemn the United States Government unless MacArthur is sufficiently supported. Your idea in nominating him has already had splendid results in this country.

8. Above all we are fighting tooth and nail for greater allocation of supplies, particularly aircraft. These may have to be provided partly from the United Kingdom quota. Meanwhile, Dutch contracts should be watched carefully and discussed with Van Mook [7] by yourself.

9. I hope that it will not be necessary to pursue the proposition of the publication of the White Paper regarding Casey. [8] I believe the President is now wiring Churchill suggesting he should give no publicity to the matter. The President is also anxious that if possible we should reach a general modus vivendi with Churchill. It is now certain that Casey is committed to the appointment [9], and I am anxious to assist him so far as it is possible.

10. If the question of finding expenses should arise neither my wife nor Robinson [10] is looking to the Government for any reimbursement. I mention this only because it is matter which might possibly be raised in the House.

1 Adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 See Document 421.

3 Words in square brackets have been corrected from cablegram PMS3 of 23 March on file AA:MP1217, Box 474, Cablegrams to and from Dr Evatt.

4 Secretary of the Defence Co-ordination Dept.

5 it is not clear whether Evatt here refers to the cablegram published as Document 336 or that published as Document 385.

Curtin replied On 24 March that he would await Evatt's report of his discussion with Roosevelt regarding the 9th Division before submitting the matter to War Cabinet (see cablegram PM8 on the file cited in note 3).

6 Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area.

7 Former Lt Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies, who was then in Australia.

8 See Document 431, note 6.

9 As U.K. Minister of State resident in the Middle East.

10 Australian businessman and adviser to Evatt on his overseas mission.