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250 Evatt to Arnold

Letter SAN FRANCISCO, 25 July 1943

I have received your unofficial and confidential letter dated July 22nd [1] on the eve of my departure from this country.

First of all, let me say this. Owing to your unavoidable absence from Washington, I spoke to General Stratemeyer not in relation to aircraft allocation generally, but only in relation to the special contribution to Australia directed by the President to be made following representations by myself.

As you know, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, had given a decision directing that airplanes be provided for the Royal Australian Air Force in addition to all existing commitments to Australia. While the working out of details was a matter for the Staffs, it is obvious that one object of the President's decision was to make the R.A.A.F. in the Southwest Pacific a more balanced and more effective striking force. Therefore, the question of heavy bombers provided for in Air Marshal Williams' specification was of importance.

On my recent return to Washington from London, I saw your Deputy [2] who told me that I should in the first instance discuss any question of types with Mr. Hopkins. Accordingly I did so.

I subsequently saw the President and furnished him with an aide memoire [3] following his intimation that the gift to Australia should not be interpreted in a narrow, but in a broad and liberal spirit.

I have no intention of embarking upon any discussion of strategy with yourself I must say, however, that your letter invites the comment that, at the recent Washington Conferences, it was decided that unremitting pressure against Japan should be maintained and extended. [4] Accordingly Mr. Churchill announced to the Press in the presence of the President that the war against Japan was to be pursued with the same vigor as the war in Europe. The President's decision to make a special contribution to Australia was in strict accordance with the strategic decisions reached in Washington which are well known to me.

The practical suggestion I now make is that Australia's representative-Air Marshal Williams-should be fully consulted before determining allocations of planes in accordance with the President's special decision. Up to now he has not been consulted by you at all. You can take it that, for the purpose of working out the details of your Commander-in-Chief's special contribution, Air Marshal Courtney [5] did not represent Australia, and I am sure that he made no attempt to do so. Further, I am aware of Air Marshal Portal's representations to you that some heavy bombers should be provided for the R.A.A.F.

I accept your assurance as to your interest in the R.A.A.F. and in the very difficult operations in the South-West Pacific Area. This is surely an opportunity for you to do something tangible and of value. I hope, therefore, that you will consult Air Marshal Williams well in advance and work out a satisfactory allocation in accordance with the spirit of the President's special contribution to Australia.

I greatly regret having missed you, and would suggest that you might see Hopkins and subsequently the President before the matter is finalised. [6] With best wishes,


1 Document 249 2 Probably Lt Gen Joseph T. McNarney, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S.

Army, who had deputised for Arnold at the Washington Conferences in May.

3 Document 244.

4 See Document 213.

5 Air Marshal Sir Christopher Courtney, Air Member for Supply and Organisation, U.K. Air Council.

6 The same day Evatt forwarded to Harry L. Hopkins a copy of this letter and of Arnold's letter of 22 July. In a covering note he described Arnold's letter as 'an extraordinary document, having regard to the fact that it does not even mention the President's special contribution to Australia' and expressed the hope 'that the President will be able to follow up the matter to a satisfactory conclusion'. The note is in Franklin D. Roosevelt Library: Hopkins Papers, box 173, 400.3295 Australia.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History