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

Cablegram ES10 WASHINGTON, 18 April 1942, 12.08 p.m.


I received your P.M.46 [1] after the preparation of the other telegrams which you will receive along with this. [2]

(2) I have completed arrangements for leaving on Wednesday. If you will send a telegram immediately after the conference with MacArthur Monday, I can not only use its contents here but can still proceed to London in accordance with the plan. The Council meets on Tuesday.

(3) You state in para.2 that it should be our objective to obtain the assent of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff, the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the United States Chiefs of Staff to recommendations which are to be forwarded after your conference.

(4) Para. 10 of directive which is now in force [3] provides specifically:-

(a) The Combined Chiefs of Staff will exercise a general jurisdiction over grand strategic policy and over such related factors as are necessary for proper implementation, including the allocation of forces and war materials, and (b) The Joint United States Chiefs of Staff will exercise jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to operational strategy.

The Chief of Staff, United States Army [4], will act as the executive agency for joint United States Chiefs of Staff. All instructions to you will be issued by or through him.

(5) Seeing that the authority of Combined Chiefs of Staff is so fully recognised, I suggest that the most convenient and regular procedure in accordance with the directive would be representations or recommendations by MacArthur (who would, of course, emphasize any aspects you desire) to General Marshall, either as the executive agency for the joint United States Chiefs of Staff, or through General Marshall to the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

(6) Simultaneously Australian representative on the Pacific Council might be advised of your views and those of the supreme commanders, particularly to enable all political and non-military aspects to be discussed at the Council or privately.

(7) I therefore recommend simultaneous telegrams to Marshall from MacArthur and to me from yourself The matter can then be examined and discussed with the Chiefs of Staff and if necessary brought before the Pacific Council.

(8) In para.3 of P.M.42 [5] you refer to the building up of land, air and local naval forces in Australia to a point where they can stand without the immediate support of the United States Fleet, etc. I have already discussed the reinforcement of naval forces in the South-West Pacific area and have assurances from Admiral Kings that this is the objective to which he is working, but he insists that it must be related to the broad strategic plan and above all to physical ability to supply additional naval forces which are dangerously deficient in other areas-see my advices regarding the meeting of the British Chiefs of Staff here last week. [7] My own conception of the position is that Sir Guy Royle's [8] analysis and plan are unanswerable, but that persons to be convinced are mainly in London, not Washington.

(9) We have vigorously followed up the supply of aircraft and war materials. Only today I have received definite advice from the President [9] regarding aircraft position of United States Forces in Australia. Including aircraft already in Australia and en route, United States have now allocated 915 first-line aircraft (and these are to be maintained at proper strength) to United States Forces to operate in Australian area. This number is made up of (a) bombers heavy 80; (b) bombers medium 141; (c) bombers light 57; (d) pursuit planes 320; (e) patrol naval planes 12, totalling 610 plus reserves of fifty percent of each type totalling 305 planes, or making aggregate of 9l5 planes. Of pursuit planes, [over] [10] 120 have already been assigned to equip Australian units and of medium bombers 20 are to be sent to New Caledonia and 20 to Fiji with a reserve of 10 in each area.

These New Caledonia and Fiji units are to act as supporting units for Australia in case of emergency.

(10) The above allocation (excluding 120 pursuit planes) is quite independent of aircraft for [the R.A.A.F.].

The fact is then, until the MacArthur directive was finalized, the United States authorities had full and direct obligations only in relation to the United States units in Australia.

(11) With the acceptance of the directive, MacArthur is formally responsible to his superiors for the whole theatre. He now has the right and duty of demanding what, in his opinion, is necessary to equip all air, land and sea forces in the theatre so as to carry out the strategy as laid down in the directive. [11] I suggest that his appreciation of April 4th contained in your P.M.21 [12] should now be re-affirmed or revised in the light of the directive and definite allocations set out in para. (9) above. In short he and General Brett [13] both fully understand [that], pursuing the logistical approach, they will requisition for overall requirements of South-West Pacific (including Australian Forces) in accordance with strategy laid down in the directive, If this course is boldly and consistently pursued, their claims will be irresistible.

(12) Returning to your cable, P.M.46, the essential strategy is well summed up in your own words: 'To ensure the security of Australia as a base for operations and to marshal that strength which will be essential for future offensive action'. This is in strict accord with the strategy laid down in the directive. The steady flow of supplies turns mainly on persistent representation by Supreme Commander to General Marshall with occasional pressure on political level which must, however, be applied most delicately and prudently; for nothing could be more fatal to our position in Washington than pressure not based upon accepted military strategy.

(13) Your P.M.47 [14] (repeating your message to Bruce) [on the] necessity of a review of naval strategy generally may prove to be an important starting point in discussions which must take place shortly in London. There must also be discussions there on the proposed offensive, on the question of improving the machinery for munitions assignment, on the proposal to obtain from Russia land bases from which air attacks against Japan might be launched and on other matters of high importance.

(14) Going on to London will be an ordeal to most of us particularly in view of the unsettled position in France and Portugal. Indeed it is stated here today that air transport may become more difficult in the immediate future. The mission has practically completed its task here and the best course now is to hurry on to London and return here later for the final follow-up.

Fortunately, the arrival of General Smart [15] should make it easier for General MacArthur's requisitions to obtain approval from the Chiefs of Staff, [near to whom I have arranged to place him.]

(15) I therefore propose that the existing arrangements to go on to London should be adhered to. Luckily it will also be possible for any recommendations arising from your conferences with General MacArthur to be discussed by me here first, and subsequently in London. For that purpose it is necessary that a telegram should be sent immediately the Conference is concluded.

1 Dispatched 17 April. On file AA:A981, War 33, attachment C. It advised that Curtin would be holding an important conference with General MacArthur (Allied Supreme Commander in the South-West Pacific Area) to discuss 'the fundamental basis of the strategical appreciation' of the Australian Chiefs of Staff and the comments of the U.K. Chiefs of Staff on it(see Document 465). Curtin stressed that it was essential 'to ensure the security of Australia as a base for operations and to marshal that strength which will be essential for future offensive action'. Evatt was instructed to remain in Washington until after receipt of a further cablegram from Curtin in order to arrange any follow-up with the Chiefs of Staff Committees in Washington and the Pacific War Council.

2 See cablegrams ES3, ES6, ES7 and ES8 (On file AA:A4764, 2); ES5 (Oil file AA:MP1217, Box 474, Cablegrams to and from Dr Evatt);

ES9 (on file AA: A981, War 41B); and ES4 (Document 468).

3 This refers to the directive given to MacArthur, a copy of which is contained in part 4 of Evatt's cablegram S22 of 3/4 April on file AA:A981, War 33, attachment C.

4 General G. C. Marshall.

5 See Document 465, note 1.

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

7 Not found.

8 Chief of the Naval Staff.

9 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

10 Words in square brackets have been corrected/inserted from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 233.

11 On 23 April, in a letter to Brig Gen W. B. Smith (Secrctary, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington), Evatt again emphasised MacArthur's right to demand forces and munitions for the purpose of accomplishing the mission assigned to him by the directive. A copy of the letter is on the file cited in note 10.

12 Document 456.

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

14 See Document 467, note 1.

15 Head of Australian Military Mission to Combined Chiefs of Staff, Washington.

[AA:A4764, 2]