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

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

page 204

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

22 April 1942

We are now in a somewhat embarrassing position with reference to the arrangements made for the control of the Pacific area, as to which we have said nothing whatever except that we have been informed of and have agreed to the organisation that has been established. It has already been announced in Australia that MacArthur is in command there, and it has already been publicly stated there that MacArthur's command does not extend to New Zealand. This has led to much comment and guessing in the New Zealand press. We are most reluctant to make any public statement which might not be in conformity with the wishes of the United States authorities, and we can well understand that they may not wish the Naval arrangements for the Pacific or the delimitations of the areas to be made public at any stage. Indeed we have noted a press report of a statement by Stimson that this is a military secret, but obviously some public clarification of the situation here will be necessary at an early date.

Would you be good enough to inquire whether it is intended to make an announcement in Washington as to the inclusion of New Zealand in the South Pacific area under the command of Admiral Ghormley1 and, if not, ascertain whether there would be any objection to our making an announcement to the effect that New Zealand is in an area under American Naval command, that it is not included in the area under the command of MacArthur but that the arrangements made, which are not available for publication but which were made with the knowledge and consent of the New Zealand Government, provide for the closest collaboration and co-operation with him and with other American forces in the Pacific.

1 Vice-Admiral R. L. Ghormley, USN; Commander South Pacific Force and South Pacific Area, Jun-Oct 1942. He assumed command on 19 June.