264 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram Winch 14 LONDON, 25 August 1943, 2.07 a.m.


Received 26 August 1943

Having agreed upon the setting up of the combined South East Asia Command [1] I have arranged with General Marshall and Admiral King, with the approval of the President, that I can have an officer of General's rank as Liaison Officer at MacArthur's headquarters. This will enable MacArthur to correspond freely with me and will enable me to follow with closer attention than heretofore the developments in the Pacific theatre. I talked this over with Dr. Evatt when he was in London and understood from him that you would like some such arrangement as this. [2] 2. While I should never wish to intrude upon domestic party issues in Australia, I hope I may send my private and personal congratulations on the return of your Government with so large and stable a working majority. [3] This should favour continuity in the war effort and the taking of increasingly important decisions which will be required during this and future campaigns in the Pacific.

3. Will you kindly show this to Dr. Evatt to whom I am also sending a personal telegram [4] in reply to his very kind personal message to me. [5]

1 The establishment of a South-East Asia Command was agreed on by the U.K. Govt in June and endorsed by the Combined Chiefs of Staff at the Quebec Conference on 24 August. The Command covered Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra and Ceylon and its initial objective was to facilitate a more effective offensive against the Japanese in Burma. Lord Louis Mountbatten was appointed Allied Supreme Commander and Lt Gen Joseph W. Stilwell as Deputy Supreme Commander. See John Ehrman, Grand Strategy, HMSO, London, 1956, vol. V, pp. 135-48.

2 Curtin replied in cablegram Johcu 70 of 31 August (FA:A3196, 1943, 0.23908) that he fully agreed with the proposal, which would be 'of great mutual advantage'. On 8 October Churchill advised in cablegram Winch 17 (FA:A3195, 1943, 1.41474) that his Liaison Officer with MacArthur would be Lt Gen Herbert Lumsden.

3 At the elections on 21 August Curtin's Australian Labor Party gained forty-nine seats, the United Australia Party-Country Party opposition twenty-three seats and independents two seats. The A.L.P. also gained control of the Senate where it had previously been in a minority. On 22 September R. G. Menzies replaced W. M.

Hughes as leader of the U.A.P. and, as the U.A.P.-Country Party coalition was terminated, Menzies, as leader of the larger opposition party, also replaced A. W. Fadden as Leader of the Opposition.

4 Document 265.

5 See Document 265, note 3.

[FA:A3195, 1943, 1.35448]