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

3 April 1942

3 April 1942

The following is the text of the directives to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific area and the Supreme Commander of the South-West Pacific area which has been delivered to me by General Marshall, United States Chief of Staff, today.

The directives have been approved by the President, and I would be pleased if you would immediately consider [them] and advise me at once of your decision.

Directive to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Ocean Area

‘By agreement amongst the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States.

‘(1) The Pacific Ocean area, comprising the North, Central, and South Pacific areas, has been constituted, as defined in Annex 1.

‘(2) You are designated as Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Ocean area, and of all armed forces which the Governments concerned have assigned or may assign to this area.

‘(3) You will appoint a Commander of the South Pacific area, who, acting under your authority and general direction, will exercise command of the combined armed forces which may at any time be assigned to that area. You will exercise direct command of the combined armed forces in the North and Central Pacific areas.

‘(4) In consonance with the basic strategic policy of the Governments concerned, your operations will be designated to the accomplishment of the following:


Hold island positions between the United States and South-West Pacific area necessary for the security of the line of communications between those regions; and for supporting naval, air, and amphibious operations against Japanese forces.

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Support the operations of forces in the South-West Pacific area.


Contain Japanese forces within the Pacific theatre.


Support the defence of the continent of North America.


Protect the essential sea and air communications.


Prepare for the execution of major amphibious offensives against positions held by Japan, the initial offensive to be launched from the South Pacific area and the South-West Pacific area.

‘(5) You will not be responsible for the internal administration of the respective forces under you. You are authorised to direct and co-ordinate the creation and development of administrative facilities and the broad allocation of war materials.

‘(6) You are authorised to control the issue of all communiqués concerning the forces under your command.

‘(7) When task forces of your command operate outside the Pacific Ocean area, co-ordination with forces assigned to the area in which operating will be effected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff or Combined Chiefs of Staff, as appropriate.

‘(8) Commanders of all armed forces within your area will be immediately informed by their respective Governments that, from a date to be notified, all orders and instructions issued by you in conformity with this directive will be considered by such commanders as emanating from their respective Governments.

‘(9) Your Staff will include officers assigned by the Governments concerned, based upon requests made directly to the national commanders of the various forces in your area.

‘(10) The Governments concerned will exercise the direction of operations in the Pacific Ocean area as follows:


The Combined Chiefs of Staff will exercise general jurisdiction over grand strategic policy and over such related factors as are necessary for proper implementation, including the allocation of forces and war materials.


The Joint United States Chiefs of Staff will exercise jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to operational strategy. The Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet will act as the executive agency for the Joint United States Chiefs of Staff. All instructions to you will be issued by or through him.


The New Zealand Chiefs of Staff will be responsible for the land defence of New Zealand, subject to such strategic decisions affecting this responsibility as may be made by you for the conduct of naval operations in the Pacific Ocean area.1

1 Paragraph 10 (c) was later amended. See p. 265, note 2.