145 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram Winch 6 LONDON, 27 March 1943, 9.25 p.m.

MOST SECRET

Your telegram Johcu No. 60. [1]

I am sorry you have not had a reply to your telegram of 19th January [2], which I remember the President showing me at Casablanca. I propose to discuss with Dr. Evatt, when he arrives, both the specific request for additional aircraft and the wider questions raised in the telegram of 19th January.

I should like you to know, however, that Chiefs of Staff, whom I asked to consider your Johcu No. 60, have expressed the following views:-

(1) Since the South and South West Pacific are in an American area of strategic responsibility, the strength of the forces to be maintained there is mainly for decision in Washington.

Nevertheless, the Chiefs of Staff in London would always be ready to make strong representations if the security of Australia or New Zealand seemed to be endangered by decisions of the United States Chiefs of Staff (2) At the present time, however, it would be very difficult for the British Chiefs of Staff to make out a strong case and to press the view on Washington that the United States Chiefs of Staff have allotted insufficient air forces to the South and South-West Pacific Areas.

(3) The reasons for this may be briefly stated as follows:-

(a) According to our information, the maximum Japanese air force that is likely to be deployed in this area is 650 aircraft, though, as Mr. Curtin states, there is of course room for more.

(b) The Japanese air force is a waning force, and its commitments elsewhere are unlikely to decrease.

(c) It is understood that United States shore-based air forces in the South and South-West Pacific Areas already total some 1,300 aircraft. These are apart from about 350 carrier-borne aircraft which, it is believed, are likely to be substantially increased.

All the above are in addition to the R.A.A.F. whose strength is now considerable.

(d) The agreed strategy puts the defeat of Germany as the first charge on the forces of the United Nations, after which every

man who can be carried and every suitable ship and aircraft will be concentrated on Japan.

1 Document 139.

2 Document 105.

3 The Prime Minister's Dept inward cablegram register (AA:A3642, 10) gives the inward chronological numbers of this cablegram as 1.13711 and 1.13727.

[FA:A3195, 1943, 1.13737/11] [3]