MacArthur and Shedden
CANBERRA, 17 March 1944
(1) FUTURE OPERATIONS IN THE PACIFIC
General MacArthur said that it was his intention to make a landing
in Hollandia which is just across the boundary between British and
Dutch New Guinea on the northern coast of the Island. By this
means he would by-pass the Japanese Forces at the various points
along the northern coast, including Madang and Wewak. Later,
operations would be carried out to clear the Japanese entirely
from New Guinea.
2. He also proposes to capture the Island of Emirau, in the
Matthias group between Rabaul and Truk, from which he would able
to cooperate with the American Forces in the Marshall Islands in
carrying out an intensive bombardment of Truk. It was intended
only to neutralise the use of Truk as a base by the Japanese, and
to let it wither away.
3. Parallel with these operations in the Southwest Pacific Area,
Admiral Nimitz is to carry out operations for the capture of the
Marianas Islands and the Palau Islands.
4. After General MacArthur has cleared New Guinea, it is his
intention to capture Halmahera Island which is in the Moluccas to
the Northwest of New Guinea and in the line of approach to the
5. Lorengau in the Admiralty Islands is to be prepared as a base
for the Pacific Fleet, to enable it to give the necessary cover to
amphibious operations in the Southwest Pacific Area.
6. General MacArthur said that it might be necessary to capture
the Northeastern portion of Timor, in order to deprive the
Japanese of their air bases there, and to enable us to use them as
protecting cover against attacks from this flank.
7. He stated that it had not yet been decided whether it will be
necessary to do the operations against the Islands in the Arafura
and Banda Seas which had been previously discussed. Air cover for
the convoys from the Australian mainland would have to be provided
from carriers which would pass through the Torres Straits. The
seas in the vicinity of these Islands were unsuitable for carriers
of large draft, and the United States Navy was opposed to using
them for operations in this region. If carriers were used, they
would be of the smaller type.
8. General MacArthur said the United States Navy had sought the
alteration of the boundaries of the Southwest Pacific Area, in
order to place within their control the Islands to the North of
New Guinea. He had strongly protested against this proposal which
threatened to rob him of the fruits of victory which were the
result of two years' operations against great odds. He had
threatened to resign if such a change were made. It was
accordingly decided to leave the boundaries as at present and to
approve of the plan which he had outlined, part of which would be
conducted by Admiral Nimitz and part by himself There would be
close co-ordination between the operations of both areas, in that
mutual support would be afforded by one area to the other,
according to the agreed plan and timetable.
9. General MacArthur said that the target date for the landing in
Mindanao is November, and the Philippines are to be cleared by
February, when Formosa will be attacked. He said that if he could
get to the Philippines before the Japanese withdrew the part of
their fleet on Singapore, he would probably be able to bag these
ships. After the capture of the Philippines, the only operations
remaining to the Southwest Pacific Area would be the mopping up of
the trapped Japanese Forces in the Netherlands East Indies. When
that stage was reached, a change in the set-up in the Pacific
would no doubt be necessary, but at that point the end would be in
10. As mentioned on earlier occasions, General MacArthur repeated
the view that, as the operations moved away from Australia,
General Blamey would have to decide whether to go with him, or
remain in Australia as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian
Military Forces. General MacArthur contemplated that the spearhead
of his advance to the Philippines would be the three A.I.F.
Divisions and a Paratroop American Division. He envisaged a change
in the present system of Commanders of the Allied Naval, Land and
Air Forces to one of Task Force Commanders. Australia's Army Corps
would, of course, be commanded by an Australian, in accordance
with the policy of national commanders for the forces of each
country. This appeared to General MacArthur to be somewhat less of
a Command than that which had been exercised to date by General
Blamey as Commander of the Allied Land Forces. General MacArthur
said that possibly the Commander of the Corps might be Lieutenant-
General Sir Leslie Morshead  or Lieutenant-General Berryman.
 Lieutenant-General Berryman who had been a capable Staff
Officer, had now demonstrated the qualities of a good Commander
and, when things were not going well, he had displayed those
tigerish qualities which were so necessary to fight back and
overcome the enemy. In contrast with Lieutenant-General Berryman,
Lieutenant-General Rowell  had been over-impressed by his
difficulties and, though he was a good Staff Officer, General
MacArthur could never agree to him being given a Command again.
11. Lieutenant-General Morshead had shown that he possessed good
soldierly qualities as a Corps Commander, but he was not as
experienced as the other Senior Officers in jungle warfare.
General MacArthur had also derived from him the impression that he
was content with his record and not anxious for further
advancement and the responsibility which it would entail.
(2) THE PRIME MINISTER'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON AND LONDON
A. WASHINGTON ASPECT
General MacArthur said that the Prime Minister would find
President Roosevelt to be a person with a most pleasing and
charming personality, but he wished to warn him that his method in
dealing with people of importance was to impress them with a mass
of detail and, during the exposition of it, to weave in the
essential questions, in order to obtain expressions of agreement.
This method frequently took unawares the persons with whom he was
discussing matters and tended to gloss over the full significance
of what was being put to them. Having secured agreement to what he
wanted, the President instantly sought to nail people to their
answers. On the other hand, the President was quite unscrupulous
himself in getting away from his own expressions of agreement and
repudiating his word if it suited him. General MacArthur said that
reports indicated that the President's health was not good. He was
reduced to a shell and might collapse at any time. President
Roosevelt was dominated by an obsession to be reelected for a
2. General Marshall, Chief of the General Staff, was a very well
informed and pleasant person, but he really did not have a
strategical mind, nor a predominant interest in operations. He
was, of course, a strong advocate of the Second Front in Europe.
3. Admiral King, Chief of the Naval Staff, had a hard and
unattractive personality. His sole concern was the prestige of the
United States Navy which he placed above even the good of the
4. General Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Force, had one
sole interest, which was to vindicate the decisive results to be
achieved by vertical bombing. His one aim in this war was to
support Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris  in a plan of
operations in Europe along these lines, in an endeavour to prove
that the Air Force could win the war.
5. General MacArthur advised the Prime Minister to see and have
discussions with the President only during his visit to
Washington, and not to confer with the Combined Chiefs of Staff or
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
6. In reply to a request to indicate any manner in which the Prime
Minister could assist General MacArthur, he replied that there was
none. He explained that the Pacific is a sphere of American
strategic responsibility and the representations of General
MacArthur himself and the missions of Lieutenant-General
Sutherland in the last five months had resulted in a plan being
laid down as outlined under Future Operations in the Pacific.
There was nothing that the Prime Minister could do in Washington
to further any aspect, and only harm could come by intrusion by
the Prime Minister which might be described by those who resented
it as an attempt at political interference. General MacArthur gave
the following outline of the attitude which the Prime Minister
should adopt in his discussions with the President:-
(i) Australia had been in dire peril following the fall of
Singapore and the Malay Barrier, and the advance of the Japanese
into New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
(ii) The Commonwealth had faced great odds. Unlike Britain, she
had not possessed a great fleet or a large air force.
(iii) She had received little help in the critical period and the
removal of the threat of invasion had been mainly due to her own
efforts and the small assistance which had been forthcoming from
the United States.
(iv) The people of Australia and of Eastern Asia, the Philippines
and the Netherlands East Indies, would be very critical of the
manner in which they had been let down. General MacArthur added
that, in his opinion, the Philippines could have been held if
assistance had been sent, and it was possible for assistance to
reach them, notwithstanding the blow the United States Fleet
suffered at Pearl Harbour. Had he received help, he could have
held much longer in the Philippines.
(v) The resistance offered in the Southwest Pacific Area had not
only preserved Australia as a base, but the campaigns which had
been waged had drawn considerable Japanese forces to this area
and, by reductions in their naval and air strength and shipping,
had rendered possible the successful operations by the United
States Navy against the Japanese mandated islands. 7. General
MacArthur suggested that a statement on these lines be elaborated
in a simple manner in one speech only to the American people. He
would, of course, add particulars of what Australia had achieved
in her war effort. He would also point out that if Australia had
been overrun, the west coast of America would have become subject
to direct attack. The Japanese would have crossed the South
Pacific and established themselves on the west coast of South
8. In reply to an enquiry as to when he considered the threat of
invasion to Australia had been definitely removed, General
MacArthur said that he finally dated this from the Bismarck Sea
operation, when the Japanese had been frustrated from landing
forces at Morobe which would have threatened our positions at Buna
and Gona. if an earlier date were desired on which the pendulum
had swung definitely and positively against the Japanese, he would
quote the engagement at Gorari, when General Horii  was
B. LONDON ASPECT
9. General MacArthur was informed of the Agenda for the Conference
of Prime Ministers in London as given in Dominions Office
cablegram D.335 of 5th March.  Particular reference was made to
item 11 relating to:-
'Questions Arising from the Conduct of the War Against Japan,
Including the Provision of Forces from the British Commonwealth
for that Purpose'.
10. Reference was also made to Dominions Office cablegram No. 66
of 11th March , relative to the conclusions of the Cairo
Conference, and Mr. Bruce's cablegram No. 42[A] of 14th March 
which amplifies it.
11. General MacArthur described these communications as entirely
academic. They referred to:-
(i) The despatch of a British Fleet to the Pacific.
(ii) The despatch of two infantry divisions from India to
Australia this year.
(iii) The despatch of four divisions from the United Kingdom to
Australia to arrive about eight months after Germany's defeat.
(iv) The despatch of 65 [R.A.F.] squadrons to be available in the
Pacific some 7-12 months after Germany's defeat.
12. General MacArthur said, in regard to the naval forces, that
there was considerable hostility on the part of the United States
Navy to the entry of British naval forces into the Pacific, as
they considered that they could defeat the Japanese themselves. in
regard to the land and air forces, General MacArthur said that he
could not imagine Admiral Mountbatten agreeing to the transfer of
two divisions from India, but, unless the military and air forces
came early, they would arrive too late, in view of the plan and
timetable which he had outlined earlier with reference to future
operations in the Pacific.
13. General MacArthur said that Mr. Churchill's active interest in
future operations in the Pacific was apparently prompted by
considerations of Empire politics, in that he felt, with victory
in sight, that he must play an active part in the defeat of Japan,
as well as Germany. The vital consideration, however, was what
British forces could be assigned now. As a soldier, it was his
principle never to refuse any aid, and he would recommend Mr.
Curtin to accept anything that was offering. He repeated, however,
that the time factor was a vital consideration.
14. The reply to the cablegram [from] the United Kingdom
Government should invite attention to the set-up in the Southwest
Pacific Area, under which the nations concerned had assigned their
forces to operate under the Commander-in-Chief and under the
Commanders of the naval, land and air forces, as designated by
General MacArthur under his directive. Any British Forces which
came into the area should therefore be assigned to operate under
the Command system as laid down.
15. In regard to the study of base potentialities in Australia for
British Forces, General MacArthur said that he assumed this
information could be readily furnished by the Australian Services
through the Australian Mission in London, and the views of himself
on the operational aspect could be given if desired. Nevertheless,
if it were found necessary to send British Service representatives
to study this aspect, they should be permitted to pursue their
enquiries only on the understanding that they were made [sic] and
that any forces would operate within the existing set-up.
(3) THE SECOND FRONT
Reference is made to previous observations of General MacArthur on
this subject on 17th July, 1942. 
2. General MacArthur expressed the view that victory in the whole
war is being risked on the success or failure of the Second Front.
We could not now lose the war, but if we fail on the Second Front
or if the Germans are able to produce a stalemate, we may not win
and would have to accept an inconclusive peace.
3. In the Commander-in-Chief's opinion, the proper course would
have been to build up a large British and American Army to take
over the southern part of the Russian front. A similar course had
been followed in principle in the last war, when the American
Forces had been built up behind the British and French front.
4. It might be argued that Marshal Stalin would not agree to this
course of action, to which our answer would be that if he did not
choose to accept assistance in this form, he could go on alone. If
he reached Berlin, he would know that he would be bled white and
his influence at the Peace Conference would not be nearly as
great. He would not therefore be likely to refuse such a proposal.
5. In regard to the fear that Russia might make a separate peace,
General MacArthur said that this was contrary to the realities of
the situation. It was Stalin's ambition to dominate the European
system, just as it had been that of Julius Caesar, Napoleon,
Bismarck, the Kaiser and Hitler. The tradition of Britain has been
for centuries to oppose the domination of Europe by any one power
and to achieve this by a system of alliances producing a balance
of power. This was why, notwithstanding its criticisms of Britain
and Europe, the United States could not dissociate itself from the
fate of Britain, when threatened by the possibility of some power
achieving an overlordship in Europe.
6. In General MacArthur's opinion, President Roosevelt had fallen
for Marshal Stalin's guile, but the Commander-in-Chief was not
nearly as much convinced that Mr. Churchill was satisfied with the
European prospect. Marshal Stalin, by insisting on the Second
Front, wished to see the strength of the United States and Britain
greatly diminished so that Russia would at least be equal to them
as a Great Power, and the predominant power in Europe.
7. General MacArthur stated that it is proposed to employ 44
United States and 16 British Divisions on the Western Front. The
Germans at present have available about 40 in France and the Low
Countries. By a further shortening of their lines on the Eastern
Front, they could produce a total of 70 to 100 divisions for the
Western Front. The Germans would also be working on interior lines
of communication. It was important to realise that, though the
Germans had experienced reverses in Russia, there had been no
routs, and the Germans were withdrawing in an orderly and
8. General MacArthur also expressed doubts about the Higher
Command for the Western Front. He knew General Eisenhower 
well, as the latter had been one of his Staff Officers. He was a
politically minded soldier, who had never reached a major military
decision in his life. The fighting in North Africa had been done
by Generals Alexander, Montgomery and Anderson. 
9. General MacArthur said that General Montgomery was a good small
Army Commander, but his reputation had been tarnished by the
Italian campaign which had been undertaken largely at his
instigation. He, too, had expressed political ambitions. General
MacArthur also said that there was not that unity in the higher
direction which there appeared to be on the surface, because
reports which reached him showed that the Air Commanders were
convinced that they could force a decision by vertical bombing
alone. There was a danger that air strength might be diverted from
adequate support of military operations.
10. In regard to the air bombardment of civilians, General
MacArthur said that he did not have very great faith in it
achieving decisive results. An important contrast had to be noted
in the killing of soldiers and the killing of civilians. Soldiers
became hardened to it as they became battle trained and
experienced. To civilians, it was a new horror which created a
burning desire for revenge. Their morale became stiffened, and
they were prepared to take it because, ultimately, they hoped that
retaliation by their own forces would bring about revenge. He said
that this characteristic had been manifested in the bombing of
civilians in China, Spain and England. Most important of all, it
had to be noted that in the destruction of German cities and the
killing of German civilians, the German Army was not being
militarily defeated. Their supplies might be hampered and the
morale of the civilian population might crack, but it still
remained a fact that, if the civilians stuck it out, military
defeat had to be inflicted on the enemy forces by actual combat.