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

Cablegram PMS23 WASHINGTON, 1 April 1942, 11.56 p.m.


Following personal for Curtin from Evatt.

(1) The first meeting of the Pacific Council took place this morning. The President [1] presided and Ministers were present representing the United Kingdom [2], Australia, New Zealand [3], Netherlands [4], China [5] and Canada. [6] Harry Hopkins [7] was also present as the President's Deputy. The meeting was of a preliminary and explanatory character. The President dealt with the general strategic position and did not underestimate claims and problems of the Pacific countries.

(2) He wants the Canadians to do more in the Pacific and he said so. On this I have already been in touch with Mackenzie King [8] and put it to him very strongly that he should help us in aircraft and munitions supply. He has invited me to visit Canada to discuss the matter and I leave here on April 7th, immediately after the next meeting of the Council on that date. Will be away for a few days only.

(3) The President is very anxious about vital lines of communications to Australia and the proper reinforcement of Canton [Island], Palmyra, Fiji and New Caledonia. A report on these bases is being prepared for the next meeting when the United States Chiefs of Staff will attend.

(4) Together with Hopkins and Nash I was appointed to prepare a special report on the danger of attack or invasion of Australia, New Zealand and on related matters such as supply. On this it would be very helpful if a short analysis of the position could be prepared by General MacArthur [9] in co-operation with our service chiefs and telegraphed to reach here not later than Saturday. [10] The document need not be a long one but it should emphasize the probability of immediate attack, the inadequacy of our means, the need of continuing air reinforcement by ferrying and all other matters which seem to them to be pertinent. Of course they can make an official report to General Marshall [11] if they prefer but if they do I would like some statement from them in addition.

Please tell General Brett [12] that I am following his advice as to the general line of action in Washington and that if at any time he or MacArthur would like me to review any specific job I shall do it gladly.

(5) There is a deal of talk here (and the President himself mentioned it at the meeting) of an offensive from Northern France to be commenced by the United Kingdom later in the year. Whether this opinion is genuinely entertained or is merely propaganda it is difficult to say at the moment. I am afraid I would regard the proposed offensive with much doubt for it is a factor which appears to be in the other direction as we fight our case for further support to Australia and New Zealand.

(6) General Council discussion was on the whole satisfactory, and the proceedings took much of the form of a War Council meeting in Australia. I am certain that the machinery established is regarded by the President as being his own rather than Churchill's and that he is anxious to make a success of it.

(7) Nash is co-operating with me. I hear from him, however, that with regard to the consequent departure from here of United States divisions he may be pressing that the first should go to New Zealand rather than to Australia. I have no doubt that General MacArthur and General Marshall will decide points like this. In every possible way I am endeavouring to help New Zealand in the spirit of our agreement with New Zealand at the Melbourne Conference. [13]

(8) Above all, the great essential is the delivery of munitions and supplies and as far as I can judge from the procedure substantial results in this direction will flow from the working of the Council.

Discussions I have had with American Chiefs of Staff over the past ten days are, I think, bearing fruit.

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

2 Lord Halifax.

3 Walter Nash.

4 Dr Alexandre London.

5 Dr T. V. Soong.

6 Hume Wrong.

7 Adviser to Roosevelt.

8 Canadian Prime Minister.

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

10 See Document 456.

11 Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.

12 Commander, Allied Air Forces in the South-West Pacific Area.

13 See Document 388, note 4.

[AA:A981, WAR 41B]