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

173 — The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

27 March 1942

From your telegram of 26 March, I note:


your definite wish to be included within the area of MacArthur's command;


that you are opposed to any degree of separation from Australia;


that you would prefer that the area agreed upon between the Australian and New Zealand Governments should be retained under an Anzac Commander subject to the Supreme Commander of the whole Pacific area;


that if the Supreme Commander for the Pacific cannot be located in Australia then a separate Commander of the Anzac area agreed between New Zealand and Australia, located in Australia or New Zealand, becomes essential;


that if Australia agree with your proposals they should request Evatt to co-operate with me in submitting your wishes to the President and the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

I will make immediate preliminary inquiries with regard to the necessary representations, but would be glad if you would consider the following facts and cable me your instructions:


Whilst I have no official advice, I have heard from an unimpeachable source that the Combined Chiefs of Staff have agreed on the boundaries of MacArthur's command and that New Zealand is not included.

page 193

I have reason to believe from my conversation with the President, although again it is not official, that he will approve the boundaries as recommended by the Chiefs of Staff.


That it has been agreed that the United States Chiefs of Staff shall take care of strategic responsibility for the Pacific Ocean area, including all lands east of Singapore.


That I am advised confidentially, but not officially (the matter must not be referred to until official advice has been received), that Admiral King and General Marshall have already completed plans for garrison, air force, equipment, etc., to be placed on certain islands.1


That in some cases the forces and equipment mentioned in (d) have already left and that dates have been determined when others will leave.


That Admiral King's plans have been for Auckland to be a main base, if not the main base, of the South Pacific.


That Admiral King has completed his detailed plans for naval defence and attack, the plans are under action, and that they provide for Auckland to be the base to which his ships after carrying out their tasks shall return for refit and relief of crews.

I agree with you entirely as to the imperative urgency for the appointment of a Commander-in-Chief for the whole Pacific area, and that fully effective action cannot be undertaken until all operations in the Pacific area are under one commander, but I do not at present consider it in any way likely that MacArthur will be that commander, or that for the time being the Commander-in-Chief will be located in Australia.

As I understand him, King proposes to carry out his plans in co-operation with MacArthur, in Australia and north-west and north, and Nimitz, who will be in charge of Pearl Harbour and north of Equator operations. To insist now that the naval plans for New Zealand and the Islands and contemplated naval operations should be placed under the control of MacArthur would, I think, extend the delays and differences which we have been trying to clear up. Evatt is at present in New York but will probably return today, and immediately on receipt of your reply I will endeavour to see him and will take whatever steps you decide in connection with the matter. The proposals in your cable [No. 172] may considerably affect the position and, in view of the understanding with regard to ultimate co-ordinated naval action from Alaska to Capetown, it might be most wise at present to let the proposals upon which agreement between the Combined Chiefs of Staff has been reached be carried out. If the proposals for the Pacific page 194 War Council could be put into effect and we could [group mutilated–also?] establish representation with the United States Chiefs of Staff that would ensure our voice being heard, we could probably reach agreement as to your definite desires to be linked up with Australia more quickly than by insisting on a change of proposals which have been agreed upon by the Combined Chiefs of Staff.

Please make your reply immediate priority.