127 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 269 WASHINGTON, 19 September 1940, 8 p.m.


Mission from Indo-China has been here lately endeavouring to get aircraft 80 fighters 32 bombers and 10 training aircraft. United States has none available at Philippines. Berle [1] asked me today if I thought Australia would be able to supply even 15 or 20. I said general election would inevitably delay consideration of matters of such high political consequence and that I believed Australian Government would hesitate to take such action which Japanese might well consider bellicose.

However Berle asked if I would inquire and said even old planes of either British or American types would do, and that the United States would replace them as soon as possible.

I reminded him of shortage of aircraft in Australia and that in any case Australian pilots could not deliver for obvious reasons.

Berle believes moral and material help that even relatively small number of aircraft [could give] might tip the balance and result in French in Indo-China offering resistance to Japanese.

However, my own impression of situation is that Vichy has in fact capitulated in face of Japanese demands and that it is too late to try to organize resistance.

For reasons you will appreciate I thought it best not to turn down at once this suggestion for co-operation but glad if you send me reasoned reply which I can pass on to him. [2]


1 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State.

2 The External Affairs Dept replied on 27 September: 'Can be definitely said that no service types or service training types of aircraft can be made available from Australian resources for allotment to Indo-China at present or in near future.' See cablegram 186 on file AA:A981, Indo-China 4.