CANBERRA, 2 May 1944
STATEMENT BY REAR ADMIRAL C. S. DANIEL, R.N.
The Acting Prime Minister, in welcoming Rear Admiral Daniel to the
meeting, stated that Rear Admiral Daniel was formerly Director of
Plans at the Admiralty and had recently arrived in Australia to
examine, in collaboration with Australian officers, the facilities
necessary here to enable British Naval forces to operate in the
Pacific using Australia as the base for such operations. His
mission was of an exploratory nature, without commitment, but its
potential significance for Australia was appreciated. It involved
wide and important issues of British co-operation in the Pacific
which were to be discussed at the conference of Prime Ministers in
London. He invited Rear Admiral Daniel to make a statement to the
2. The following is a summary of the main points of Rear Admiral
(a) At the Cairo and Tehran Conferences, it was decided, subject
to final approval, that the major effort against Japan should be
made in the Pacific.
One of the matters which arose out of this decision was the
question of the transfer of R.N. forces to the Pacific. This has
been the subject of discussions between the First Sea Lord and
Admiral King, and, at the latter's suggestion, it was decided to
send a British Service Mission to the United States and the
Pacific to investigate the problems associated with such transfer.
(b) There were two strategical conceptions which affected the part
to be played by the Royal Navy in the war against Japan:-
Firstly-the Indian Ocean strategy. This envisaged landings on
Sumatra followed by operations for the recapture of Singapore,
involving perhaps 10-i2 Divisions. If the Royal Navy were
committed to such a strategy, the demands would be so great as to
make it extremely unlikely for the Royal Navy to be able to do
anything in the Pacific.
Secondly-the Pacific Ocean strategy. This envisaged Royal Navy
Forces working in close co-operation with the United States Forces
for an attack in force on the Philippines, Hong Kong, Formosa, and
(c) The general feeling in Washington was that United States Naval
Forces were self-sufficient for the task in the Pacific. United
States Naval losses in the operations to date had been light, but
they might increase as operations continue, and the United States
authorities did not, therefore, exclude the possibility of British
assistance in the Pacific. If, however, Britain were committed in
the Indian Ocean and operations in Malaya and adjacent areas did
not proceed as rapidly as expected, we would not be able to come
to the assistance of the United States Forces. In this event, both
prongs of the advance would be held up.
(d) Admiral Daniel's personal view was that the Pacific strategy
was the correct one. Immense operations would be necessary for the
defeat of Japan and we could not have too great a preponderance of
strength. Royal Navy Forces should be based on Australia and
operate through the New Hebrides, Solomons, Admiralty Islands to
the Philippines, thus ensuring secure bases along the lines of
(e) Until Germany was defeated (the 'official' date for which is
October, 1944), a British Task Force was all that could be made
available for the Pacific. After the defeat of Germany, a force of
the following order could be made available:-
4 to 6 modern battleships
4 fleet carriers
7 light carriers
18 escort carriers
12 large and small cruisers
100 escort vessels
900 aircraft (carrier based)
300 aircraft (land based)
2 amphibious divisions
(f) Australia would, in effect, become a 'Pearl Harbour' for
operations by the British Naval Forces in the Pacific, just as
Pearl Harbour was the basis of the advance of the United States
fleet in the Pacific. This would involve a considerable expansion
of the facilities at Sydney and elsewhere, and his mission was to
investigate this problem.
(g) The Japanese fleet would give battle when a vital enemy
objective was threatened. The Philippines and Formosa might be so
regarded by the enemy, in which event a decisive naval action
would probably be fought.
(h) The Indian ocean strategy would not be proceeded with if
forces were concentrated in the Pacific. A weak naval force would
probably be retained in the Indian Ocean.
(i) It was important that there should be no delay in making our
maximum effort against Japan, as soon as Germany was defeated.
Speed was the essence of the matter and everything possible should
be done to avoid a long drawn out war against Japan.
3. The Acting Prime Minister expressed to Rear Admiral Daniel the
thanks of the Council for his informative statement.