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

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

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

16 January 1942

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has conveyed to me the proposals agreed to by the United States Naval Staff and by the President for the establishment of a new naval area to be known as Anzac, and has informed me that he has communicated with you in the same sense.

In general, we consider that the proposals have the following advantages:

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They indicate the importance attached by the British and the United States Governments to the problems of the area in question.


They make some provision for necessary co-operation with the adjacent areas.


They make some provision for reinforcements which are urgently required.


They provide some measure of direct American naval assistance.

From these points of view, therefore, the proposals are a distinct advance on any which have yet been put forward.

His Majesty's Government in New Zealand propose to reply at the earliest possible moment in the form set out below. Before doing so, however, they would be grateful to be advised without delay of the tenor of the reply to be sent in this connection by His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia, and they would be glad also of the Australian Government's very early comments1 on the following draft reply:

‘My colleagues and I have studied the proposals put forward in your telegram WINCH No. 1 of 14 January, which we welcome from the point of view of the closer association with the United States Forces which they will necessarily involve. We accept the proposals in their entirety. We assume that the technical disadvantages of operating a fleet which is predominantly British under the command of an American Admiral have received full consideration, and that this has been accepted because of the close American co-operation which it ensures.

‘We assume also that the present proposals are an interim measure to cover immediate requirements while Allied forces in this theatre of war necessarily remain on the defensive.

‘We feel that you are well aware that from the broadest aspect the present proposals leave untouched the main problem to which we have previously drawn attention. These proposals, with those for the ABDA area, divide the theatre of operations into individual and to some extent artificial areas. Unified command over all naval forces engaged in the war against Japan, and the eventual formation of a fleet superior to the Japanese, capable of wresting from our enemies the command of the Western Pacific, remain, in our opinion, essential to the defeat of Japan.

‘I take it that you will by now have seen my telegram of 12 January,2 and I do hope that when you have the time to comment on that communication you will let us know why it has not yet been found practicable to adopt the course which is so necessary for conducting operations in this part of the world.’

1 On 22 January Mr Curtin sent to New Zealand a copy of his own reply to Mr Churchill. This telegram is not reproduced.

2 No. 117.