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

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

The Prime Minister to the New Zealand Minister, Washington

23 April 1942

My telegram of 22 April.

Lengthy and accurate press reports from Washington have now been received of the organisation of the whole Pacific area, including the fact that New Zealand is placed under American Naval command separate and distinct from the South-West Pacific under General MacArthur.

page 205

In view of the clamour for information here and the imminent arrival of Australian papers which will contain this information, I have today, with the agreement of General Hurley, issued the following statement:

‘The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser, announced today that, under an arrangement made by the Governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Dominion of New Zealand and the island areas, including Fiji, for the defence of which New Zealand is responsible, have been allotted to an area known as the “South Pacific Area” which will be placed under American Naval command.

‘This area will be separate and distinct from the “South-West Pacific” area which has been placed under the command of General MacArthur. It was our desire that Australia and New Zealand should remain closely linked in the one area under General MacArthur and we made representations accordingly, but strategical considerations as determined in Washington must prevail and we have accordingly concurred in the above organisation. Arrangements are, however, in train for the closest co-operation to continue between the Australian and New Zealand Governments, and between General MacArthur and those in command in New Zealand and in the South Pacific Area, while the whole area of the Pacific will be co-ordinated by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and the Pacific War Council in Washington. Military liaison has already been effected by the appointment to Australia of a high-ranking officer (Brigadier Goss),1 who has already taken up his duties with General MacArthur's staff.’

1 Brig L. G. Goss, CB, Legion of Merit (US); commanded 8 Bde Gp, Fiji, Jan–Mar 1942; liaison officer, HQ Supreme Command, South-West Pacific Area, Mar–May 1942; comd 15 Bde, 3 NZ Div, Nov 1942–Jul 1943; 8 Bde, Dec 1943–Sep 1944; Deputy Chief of General Staff, Sep 1944–Jul 1946.