75 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram 66 [1] LONDON, 11 March 1944, 5.50 p.m.


Following for the Prime Minister from the Prime Minister.

Your telegram No. 56 of 4th March. [2]

1. The main decisions taken at Sextant [3] related to the scope and date of cross-channel operations in 1944 and to operations in the Mediterranean. A preliminary study was, however, devoted to an overall plan for the defeat of Japan which had previously been discussed on, the staff level.

2. The conclusion reached at Sextant was that the plan, the essence of which is as stated in your paragraph 1, could be regarded as providing a basis for further investigation and preparation.

3. Since Sextant, I and my staffs have made an intensive study of the most effective contribution which we British can make to the defeat of Japan in the shortest time. This study has brought us to the examination of two broad conceptions. One is that the main weight of the British effort should be directed across the Indian Ocean and brought to bear against the Malay barrier in a west to east thrust using India as the main base. The other is that we should send the bulk of our naval force, together with certain land and air forces, to operate from east to west on the left flank of the United States forces in the South Pacific. In the latter event Australia and not India would be the main base.

4. Before reaching firm conclusions, it is essential that the administrative implications of the two courses outlined above should be carefully assembled and analysed. Clearly the availability of shipping for the longer haul to Australia will have a most important bearing on the problem and this is being examined.

5. An equally important point on which we must be clear is the base potentialities of India and Australia. Our information regarding the potentialities of India is relatively adequate but that concerning Australia is incomplete.

6. I, therefore, suggest, subject to your agreement and on the strictest understanding that we are engaging upon no commitments and reaching no firm decisions, that we should send to Australia small parties of administrative experts who could study the base potentialities of Australia on the spot in consultation with your officers and officials. I should be glad to know if you agree to the above proposal so that the enquiry can be set on foot without delay.

7. The questions you ask in your paragraph 4 were answered in my telegram No. 59 [4] which crossed your No. 56.

1 Sent through the U.K. Dominions Secretary.

2 Document 64.

3 Code name for the Cairo Conference of November-December 1943.

4 Document 63.

[AA:A816, 31/301/336]