Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III
Extension of Anzac Area
Extension of Anzac Area
The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand
After consultations which have taken place between members of the Advisory War Council, the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates1 and the Hon. D. G. Sullivan,2 together with the Chiefs of Staff of Australia and New Zealand,3 to whom were added Generals Brett and Hurley4 of the United States Army, general conclusions were reached relating to the extension of the Anzac area and machinery for its control.
2. A drafting committee comprised of the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates, the Hon. D. G. Sullivan, the Rt. Hon. R. G. Menzies, the Minister for External Affairs, and myself today completed the draft of a cable, which is set out in my immediately following telegram,5 and which we ask your Government to forward with us as a joint submission to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States, at a date and hour to be fixed by you if you approve of its terms.
3. I may add that those concerned in the formulation of the text regard the matter as one of overriding urgency.
3 New Zealand was represented by Commodore W. E. Parry, Chief of the Naval Staff, and Air Commodore R. V. Goddard, Chief of the Air Staff.
4 Maj-Gen Patrick J. Hurley; personal representative of United States Chief of Staff in Far East, Jan - Mar 1942; US Minister in NZ, 1942; special representative of President Roosevelt in the USSR, Nov - Dec 1942.
The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Advisory War Council considered your reply at Canberra today immediately on its receipt. The Hon. D. G. Sullivan and the Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates, having remained in Melbourne, were unfortunately unable to be present. A copy was immediately furnished to them as requested.
2. We have accepted all the points you have raised and have amended the draft accordingly.
3. In view of the overriding urgency of the matter as mentioned in [No. 149], and with which Messrs Sullivan and Coates were in full agreement, we are despatching the cable only to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as suggested by you, and would ask you to give it your fullest support.
4. In regard to the Supreme Commander to be appointed by the Council, we have informed the Prime Minister, in view of General Brett's experience as Deputy Supreme Commander of the ABDA area, the knowledge he has gathered of Australian and New Zealand requirements, the contacts he established in Government and Service spheres, that for our part we would welcome his appointment.
5. The cable as revised is being repeated to you and copies passed to your representatives here.
6. We have also decided to accept your suggestion that the approach to the President should be through Mr Churchill. We hope that you will exert your powerful influence accordingly.
7. We consider that the immediate adoption of the plan is essential to the security of our two countries, and we look forward to a period of the very closest co-operation.
1 Not published. Contained New Zealand's comments on the Australian draft.
Following for Prime Minister from Prime Minister:
Regarding cable [No. 140] relative to the extension of the Anzac area and the machinery for its control, we have now had an opportunity of discussing this with a special delegation of representatives of the New Zealand Government and their Chiefs of Staff. The whole matter page 161 has been considered as one of urgency in the light of the rapid deterioration in the strategic situation. After an exchange of views with the New Zealand Government, the following conclusions have been unanimously reached by the Australian Advisory War Council:
(a) Present Military Position:
Japanese successes place Australia and New Zealand in danger of attack. Darwin, Port Moresby, New Caledonia and Fiji are immediately threatened. Other points of likely attack are the north-east and north-west coasts of Australia, the New Hebrides and Tongatabu. The Japanese have decisive air superiority and control in the seas in the areas in which they are operating, especially as there seems to be no present prospect of such a concentration as would enable the main Japanese fleet to be defeated.
The loss of Australia and New Zealand would mean the loss of the only bases for offensive action by the Allied nations against the Japanese from the Anzac area. The defensive aspect is of course vital if these bases are to be held.
The basis of our planning must be not only to ensure the security of Australia and New Zealand but to use them as areas from which offensive action will be launched.
(b) Definition of Anzac Area:
the present Anzac area;
the whole of Australia and its territories, New Zealand, and the islands within the boundaries of the present Anzac area to the extent not included in (a);
an area to the west and north-west of Australia, including Timor, Ambon, the whole of New Guinea, and such sea area within an agreed distance of the coast west of the area as may subsequently be determined;
the sea area to the south of Australia.
This extension would involve a considerable increase in naval responsibility, and to meet this it would be necessary for additional naval forces to be provided to cover this additional commitment.
(c) Machinery for Higher Direction of Policy and Operations in Anzac Area:page 162
The United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff stated that it is desirable ‘that the Supreme Commander of the Anzac area should receive his instructions from the same authority as the Commander of the ABDA area, and that the machinery for ensuring that these instructions represent the views of the united nations concerned should be the same in both cases’.
The original ABDA command has now been dispersed, but you will be aware from cable No. 1021 that the experiences of the Commonwealth Government did not indicate that the organisation, machinery and procedure were satisfactory for coping with the vital problems with which we are being brought face to face. Further confirmation of this view was obtained during the final days of the ABDA regime.
Our views on the machinery required for the higher direction of the Anzac area are as follows:
(1) Governmental Machinery
The membership might be increased as determined by the Council in the light of events and experience. Thus Canada would be added if she were to send forces to the Anzac area. The Council would be responsible for the higher policy of the war in the Anzac area and would deal with questions of policy and the provision of forces and supplies.
The proposed Council does not replace the Pacific Council. The future demarkation, function and relationship of the two bodies can be determined by experience and the changing strategical position.
(2) Strategical Control
The general strategical control of the Anzac area would be vested in the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee at Washington, but to this Committee should be added for the purpose of Anzac strategy one Naval, one Army and one Air Force officer, from each of the Dominions, to be appointed by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand after consultation with the Supreme Commander. This representation closely approximates the arrangement suggested by the President for the participation of Australian and New Zealand service officers in discussions involving their national interest and collaboration under the ABDA scheme.page 163
(3) Supreme Commander
The Council or the Governments concerned will appoint a Supreme Commander, preferably a United States officer, who would be subject to general strategic direction through the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington as specially constituted in (2). The functions of the Supreme Commander would be—
to exercise general strategic direction over the land, sea and air forces allocated to the area;
to allocate within the area the forces and equipment that are available, subject to the discretion of the Governments concerned to retain their own troops in their area should the circumstances in their opinion necessitate it.
The Supreme Commander should be guided by the principle of delegation of authority to his commanders. It should be no part of his duty to control the details of actual operations. The control of these should be left to the local commanders.
(4) Commanders of Naval, Military and Air Forces
Under the Supreme Commander and responsible to him there would be:
a Naval commander of all the naval forces allocated to the area as at present;
an Army and Air commander for each of the following:
(d) Directive to Supreme Commander:
A directive in accordance with the general principles embodied in (1) to the Supreme Commander of the ABDA area would be issued to the Supreme Commander of the Anzac area.
(1) The establishment of a Council as suggested is considered essential from the Governmental aspect to provide for an effective voice by the Australian and New Zealand Governments in the higher policy of the war in the Anzac area, in view of their responsibilities to the people and Parliaments of these Dominions for local defence and the fact that the whole of their forces are being placed under the operational control of the Supreme Commander.
(2) The Council will provide a direct and expeditious means for prosecuting a vigorous war policy in the Anzac area and will give that centralised supervision which is so essential to the conduct of a war by allies. Its location at Washington will have a number of advantages, including greater proximity to the theatre of war.page 164
(3) Adoption of the foregoing proposals would have the following advantages within the Anzac area:
The area would be a workable area and one that would accord with strategical and administrative requirements both for defensive and offensive warfare against the enemy.
Within the area there would be unified control of land, sea and air forces to ensure:
The machinery for co-ordination of the Allied effort within the area would be the minimum necessary for effective co-ordination and a wide measure of responsibility would be accorded to local commanders.
(4) In regard to the Supreme Commander to be appointed by the Council, the Government would welcome the immediate appointment of General Brett, United States Army, in view of his experience as Deputy Supreme Commander, ABDA area, the knowledge he has gathered of Australian and New Zealand requirements, and the Government and Service contacts he has made.
(5) The Advisory War Council representing all political parties in Australia regard the whole matter as one of overriding urgency.
(6) You will doubtless hear from the Prime Minister of New Zealand within a matter of hours. Both of us agree that it will be better for you to consider the proposal and we request you to recommend its adoption by the President.
2 Repeated to the Prime Minister of New Zealand on 5 March.
1 Not published.
The Prime Minister of New Zealand to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs1
Following from Prime Minister for Prime Minister:
Ministerial representatives of the New Zealand Government with the Chiefs of the New Zealand Naval and Air Staffs are at present in consultation with the Australian Government War Council and Chiefs of Staff on problems of mutual defence. As one result agreement has been reached on certain aspects of unified control which are page 165 set out in Curtin's telegram of 4 March, and with which the New Zealand Government are in agreement.
With reference to the proposed Anzac Council in Washington, we feel that the obvious advantages of having the Australian and New Zealand Governments and General Staffs directly represented on a Council which would deal with questions of policy and the provision of forces and supplies for the Anzac area, and on which the United States as well as the United Kingdom would be represented, would outweigh whatever difficulties may arise from the setting-up of yet another authority in addition to the Pacific War Council in London.
The New Zealand Government note and support the proposal by the Australian Government that General Brett should be appointed Supreme Commander of the Anzac area. They regard the appointment of a Supreme Commander of that area, with power to exercise that unified command which the Japanese are apparently exploiting so successfully, as a matter of the very utmost importance and urgency calling for action without delay.
The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand
Your telegram of 6 March. Following from Prime Minister for Prime Minister:
I have forwarded to the President the Anzac plan. Our Chiefs of Staff Committee here are examining it now.
I have so informed Mr Curtin. Will telegraph further as soon as possible.
My telegram of 4 March [No. 151].
The following is our draft of the proposed directive to the Supreme Commander. The Governments concerned are the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and any other Government hereafter included. For the sake of convenience the above Governments are referred to in this directive as the ANZAB Governments:
1 Repeated to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
1. The Area. The Anzac area should embrace:
The present Anzac area.
The whole of Australia and its territories, New Zealand, and the islands within the boundaries of the present Anzac area to the extent not included in (1).
An area to the west and north-west of Australia including Timor, Ambon, the whole of New Guinea, and the sea area within an agreed distance of the coast of the west of Australia, or as may subsequently be determined.
The sea area to the south of Australia.
2. Forces. You have been designated as the Supreme Commander of the Anzac area and all operationally trained armed forces afloat, ashore, and in the air of the ANZAB Governments which are or could be stationed in that area.
3. No Government will materially reduce its armed forces stationed in your area, nor any commitment made by it for reinforcing its forces in your area, except after giving to the other Governments and to you timely information pertaining thereto.
4. Strategic Concept and Policy. The basic strategic concept for the conduct of the war in the Anzac area lies in an immediate change on the part of the United Nations to a positive offensive strategy, and plans must be formulated to provide for the security of Australia, New Zealand and the advanced territories, and to ensure freedom of action for offensive operations on the part of the United Nations against Japan. The piecemeal employment of forces should be minimised. Your operations should be so conducted as to further preparations for the offensive.
5. The general strategic policy should be related from the outset to further major offensive operations and, with this in view, should be directed to the security of Australia and New Zealand, not only to maintain their integrity but also to form bases for offensive action on the part of the United Nations to defeat Japan. The immediate problems that confront you are:
to maintain essential communications within the area.
When these have been secured it will be possible to plan offensive operations in the light of the situation then prevailing, including that in the western Pacific. In the event of failure to hold New Caledonia page 167 and Fiji, it will be a primary necessity to ensure the inegrity of the North Island of New Zealand.
6. The Duties, Responsibilities and Authorities of Supreme Commander. You will co-ordinate in the Anzac area the strategic operations of all armed forces of the ANZAB Governments, assign them strategic missions and objectives, and where desirable arrange for the formation of task forces for the execution of specific operations, and appoint any officers irrespective of seniority or nationality to command such task forces.
7. You will allocate within the area the forces and equipment that are available or which may become available.
8. You are authorised to require from the commanders of the armed forces under your command such reports as you deem necessary in discharging your responsibilities as Supreme Commander.
9. You are authorised to control the issue of all communiqués concerning the forces under your command.
10. Your channel of communication with the ANZAB Governments upon any matter relating to your mission is through the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee in Washington.
11. The commanders of all sea, land and air forces within your area will be immediately informed by their respective Governments that, from a date to be notified, all orders and instructions issued by you in conformity with the provisions of this directive will be considered by such commanders as emanating from their respective Governments.
12. In the unlikely event that any of your immediate subordinates after making due representation to you still consider that obedience to your orders would jeopardise the national interests of his country to any extent unjustified by the general situation in the Anzac area, he has the right, subject to your being immediately notified of such intention, to appeal direct to his own Government before carrying out the orders. Such appeals will be made by the most expeditious method, and copies of appeals will be communicated simultaneously to you.
13. You are not authorised to transfer from the territories of any of the ANZAB Governments land forces of that Government without the consent of the local commander or his Government.
14. Your authority and control with respect to the various operations of the Anzac area and to the forces assigned thereto will normally be exercised through the local commander. Interferences are to be avoided in the administration processes of the armed forces of any of the ANZAB Governments, including freedom of communication between them and their respective Governments. Alterations or revisions in the basic tactical organisation of any forces will not be made except in case of urgent necessity. Each national component of a task force will normally operate under its own commander and should normally be page 168 retained as a national component in the task force. You will give effect to the principle of delegation of authority to local commanders, and in accordance with this principle it is no part of your duty to control the details of actual operations.
15. Assumption of Command and Staff. Your staff will include officers of the forces of the ANZAB Governments. You are empowered to communicate immediately with the commanders of those forces with a view to obtaining staff officers essential to your earliest possible assumption of command.
16. You will report to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Washington, when you are in a position effectively to carry out the essential function of the Supreme Command, so that your assumption of command may be promulgated to all concerned.
17. Superior Authority. As Supreme Commander of the Anzac area you will always be responsible to the ANZAB Council through the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington as specially constituted for the purpose of the Anzac area.
18. On all important matters outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Commander of the Anzac area, the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Washington as specially constituted for the purpose of the Anzac area will be the agency through which recommendations and communications may be submitted to the ANZAB Council for decision. Among the chief matters on which decisions will be required are:
provision of reinforcements;
major changes in policy;
departure from the Supreme Commander's directive.
19. This directive is to be read with the agreement between the ANZAB Governments concerning the machinery for the higher direction of the war in the Anzac area.1
1 For the areas and directives finally adopted see Division of Strategic Responsibility between the United Kingdom and the United States.