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

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

The New Zealand Minister, Washington, to the Prime Minister

24 March 1942

The President this afternoon told me that he favoured a Pacific War Council in Washington and had suggested to Churchill that instead of a second Pacific Council in London a United Nations Council should sit there. Asked when he thought a decision would be reached on the Council, he said as soon as Churchill replies, probably in the next few days. His views with regard to commands are in accord with my cable of today [No. 167].

MacArthur—South-West Pacific area: Australia northwards to the Philippines; and three naval zones: South Pacific area—including New Zealand to approximately the Equator. Mid-Pacific area—Honolulu to Equator and westwards and eastwards. Northern Pacific area—Alaska, Aleutian Islands, etc. He said that the Combined Chiefs of Staff were considering the rough boundaries—areas and zones. He agreed as to representation on the Council but was vague with regard to its powers. Unless some other question arises I should say that an announcement relative to the Council and commands will be made this week.

It would probably be sufficient for us if we had one representative with the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee, and Australia one also. It would be imperative for our representative, if one is in accord with page 188 your wishes and is agreed, to keep closely in touch with events and regularly discuss all questions and, outside the actual operational decisions, act on the instructions of the Minister, who will keep in constant contact with the Government.

The President emphasised the need for a naval base in the South Pacific and, if his views coincide with King's, the main base will be at Auckland and a subsidiary at Tongatabu.

I stressed all the arguments given in the latest appreciation.1 The President agrees and will examine your last appreciation, which he promised to read personally. I will make the same case with Hopkins, Marshall, Dill and others at the earliest possible moment. Other than to exert continuous pressure for men and equipment, the imperative need is to settle the question of the Council and determine our representation with the Combined Chiefs of Staff. I will do what I can and will let you know.

Hopkins, with whom I have spent an hour since writing the above, says it is probable that a meeting of the Pacific War Council will be called. He anticipates a little difficulty in the make-up of the Pacific Chiefs of Staff Committee, on which he thinks the American members will want the deciding voice.

I told him they could generally have it and that the contribution of Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom or other members would, in the main, be accepted in accord with its logic and wisdom.