319 MacArthur to Curtin

Letter GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, SOUTHWEST PACIFIC AREA,

I have just concluded a conference with General Blamey with reference to the question of restoring civil administration in Papua and the Australian Mandated Territories. We are both naturally most anxious to accomplish this at the earliest possible time but are convinced that under present conditions it would tend to jeopardise the military situation. Papua is so closely linked to the Mandated Territories that the whole area should be regarded as a single unit. Large forces of the Japanese are mobilised therein and their neutralisation will continue for an indefinite time. Bases, communications, and actual field operations by not only ground forces but by both naval and air components will continue indefinitely. Confusion and friction would certainly result if civil control should be prematurely attempted during a time when the demands of military operations still remain paramount.

The civil interests of these communities have been admirably cared for by ANGAU [1] and we believe that its control should be maintained until the area is cleared of the enemy.

I do not know whether this question will ever arise for consideration but felt that before my departure from Australia I should give you my professional military opinion on the matter.

DOUGLAS MACARTHUR

1 Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit.

[AA:A5954, Box 603]