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

136 — The New Zealand Minister, Washington,1 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The New Zealand Minister, Washington,1 to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

6 February 1942

Personal for Prime Minister from Nash.

Your telegram No. 2.2

My views on Dominion representation in the Imperial War Cabinet and the proposal for the formation of a Far Eastern Council in London are as follows:

(1) The successful prosecution of the war demands unification of the higher direction of command and resources, and any suggestion of sectarian interest should be firmly put aside….3

(2) The proposals for an Imperial War Cabinet and Far Eastern Council sitting in London are disadvantageous politically, strategically, and geographically.

(3) Politically, the proposal will lead to the formation of a British Commonwealth or sectarian point of view, which will then have to be reconciled from a considerable distance with another sectarian point of view in Washington.

(4) Strategically, because it encourages the conception, evidently still held in London, of the British advancing eastwards from the Indian Ocean while the Americans advance westwards from the Hawaii islands.

(5) Geographically, because London is too far from the Pacific to enable a proper appreciation to be made.

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(6) I consider the best solution for the higher direction of the war is for Churchill with the British War Cabinet to direct the war on the European, Atlantic and Mediterranean fronts, and for Roosevelt in consultation with the War Council in Washington to direct the war on the Asiatic, Australian, Pacific, and our ocean fronts. This direction would be exercised through War Councils in London and Washington working in the closest possible harmony.

(7) Representatives of Australia and New Zealand would sit on the Washington War Council, also on the Combined Staff which would advise the Council.

(8) It is desirable that command should be unified and should if possible be exercised by one person in London and one in the Pacific. The Pacific command should be an American Admiral.

(9) I strongly feel that we should continue to insist on this, or some very similar arrangement, not only for our own sakes but for the sake of the common cause. Clinging to pre-war policies and exaggerating present loyalties will not help towards our objective—the winning of the war—and neither policies nor loyalties will matter much if we lose.

(10) Sir John Dill has just advised me over the telephone that Churchill has announced the setting-up of the Far Eastern Council in London, and I presume we will not say much publicly at present; but it does not appear to me that we can effectively carry on a successful Pacific campaign other than through Washington as suggested.

1 The appointment of Mr Nash as New Zealand Minister in Washington was announced on 29 Dec 1941. He took up his duties early in February.

2 Not published. This telegram summarised for Mr Nash's information a number of the messages printed earlier in this section dealing with the setting-up of the ABDA area and the formation of a Far Eastern Council.

3 Text omitted contained a brief comment on the Netherlands Government's telegram (not published) on the formation of a ‘Pacific War Council’.