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

128 — British Admiralty Delegation (Washington) to the Admiralty2 — [Extract]

British Admiralty Delegation (Washington) to the Admiralty2

25 January 1942

3 The following revised agreement for the Anzac area is the result of further discussions in Washington:

‘The Combined Chiefs of Staff recommend the immediate establishment of the Anzac area and corresponding Anzac Force.

‘1. Boundaries. Beginning at longitude 141 degrees east at the Equator, eastwards along the Equator to longitude 170 degrees east, thence south-easterly to a point in latitude 20 degrees south, longitude 175 degrees west, thence due south; from point of beginning, south along meridian 141 degrees east to south coast of New Guinea, thence eastward along said coast to meridian 143 degrees east, thence due south in sea areas only.

‘2. Anzac Force is to be under the strategic direction of the United States, exercised by the Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet4 through one or more United States Flag Officers, assisted by one or more Flag Officers named by Australia and/or New Zealand.

‘3. All practicable use will be made of naval supply, communications and repair facilities in Australia and New Zealand.

‘4. Initial assignments of ships to Anzac Force: British—one carrier; United States—one heavy or one new light cruiser and two destroyers; page 141 New Zealand—two light cruisers, one auxiliary cruiser; Australia—two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, three auxiliary cruisers, two destroyers, two anti-submarine patrol vessels, six 600-ton anti-submarine vessels (remainder of Australian seagoing forces, namely two light cruisers, two destroyers, three sloops, to be assigned to Asia command). All other Australian and New Zealand naval units to remain at the disposal of their respective Governments for local defence.

‘5. Tasks to be assigned the Anzac Force in co-operation with air forces available in the area are, first, cover eastern and north-eastern approaches to Australia and New Zealand by destroying enemy forces; second, protect shipping and safeguarding convoys in the Anzac area by escorting, patrolling and/or covering operations; third, supporting defence of islands in the Anzac area, with emphasis on key points, and attack adjacent enemy islands’ key points; fourth, correlate operations with forces in the ABDA area and with the United States Pacific Fleet, as well as with local forces of Australia and New Zealand.

‘6. Naval forces assigned to Anzac and adjacent areas are authorised to extend operations into other areas as circumstances may require.

‘7. Effective date of the foregoing organisations, allocations, and appropriate control of operations, 1 February, or as soon thereafter as practicable. On receipt request remarks may reach British Admiralty Delegation, Washington, if possible by noon, Tuesday, 27 January, for meeting that afternoon at which it is hoped to reach agreements.’

2 Repeated to the Australian Commonwealth and New Zealand Naval Boards.

3 This message was sent in three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are not reproduced.

4 Fleet Admiral E. J. King, USN; Commander-in-Chief US Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, 1942–45.