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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

175 — The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Prime Minister of Australia to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

29 March 1942

The following telegram has been sent to Dr Evatt:

‘Your cablegram PM 5 of 25 March.2 New Zealand have repeated to us their comments to Nash on the proposal of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee for the division of the Pacific theatre into a South-West Pacific area under General MacArthur and a Southern Pacific area directly under Washington. Our Chiefs of Staff have considered this proposal in the light of the New Zealand Government's observations and have submitted the following report:

“The Chiefs of Staff are strongly opposed to the proposed subdivision of the Pacific area. We agree with the comments of the page 195 Prime Minister of New Zealand and would urge the following additional considerations against the proposal.

“It is essential to Australia that New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia should be in the same area as Australia, because they are all interdependent and, from every point of view, must be considered together. Australia's line of communications with the United States is through New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia, and the most effective and economic use of the forces available to defend the whole area depends upon there being unity of command so that the speedy reinforcement of any points threatened can be effected as necessary.”

‘2. For the reasons set out in the above report we are opposed to the proposed division of the Pacific theatre, involving the separation of Australia from New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. It is desired that you co-operate with Nash on this question.

‘3. The Chiefs of Staff have also furnished the following additional observations, which are communicated for your information and for discussion with the Combined Chiefs of Staff or Admiral King as appropriate:

“While adhering to the proposals already made by the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for the creation of an Anzac area rather than what is now proposed from Washington, we would prefer that all the naval forces in the Pacific should be put directly under the command of the United States Chiefs of Staff with a view to ensuring the greatest concentration of naval forces at the right place and time. This of course would involve Admiral Glassford's1 force (comprising United States units from the ABDA area now based on Fremantle) being placed under the command of Admiral Leary2.”’

2 Not available.

1 Vice-Admiral W. A. Glassford, USN; Commander US Naval Forces, South-West Pacific, 1941–42.

2 Vice-Admiral H. F. Leary, USN; Commander Anzac Naval Force, 1942.