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

Cablegram 411 WASHINGTON, 4 December 1940, 12.35 a.m.


Repeated to London 123.

I had general talk with Secretary of State [1] to-day. He interprets the war as entering a new and dangerous phase with heavy sinkings of merchant vessels in Atlantic and he says that he has spent considerable time lately impressing the gravity of the situation for Britain, and at one stage for the United States, on members of the Cabinet and the Defence Advisory Commission and Congress leaders. He said that he has told them of the prospective dangers inherent in the situation if Britain is not getting within 3 months same material support as she would be getting if the United States was at war. He is thoroughly alive to the situation and expresses himself most forcibly.

As regards the Far East, I emphasized the anxiety of the Australian Government regarding Japan's next move. I told him confidentially that Australia was doing everything humanly possible in concert with Britain to strengthen the Singapore defences without weakening other important areas, but I reminded him that the demand for fighting resources was most urgent in the actual theatres of war, and that any additional consignments that the United States could send to the Far East would be most welcome. He told me that decision just reached to send further 6 submarines to Manila, making 23, as well as more aircraft.

I told him of the Australian decision regarding scrap iron [2] and enquired about further American embargoes. He said that they were considering the licensing of all manufactured steel products, but they thought that the time had come not to pinprick but to await suitable opportunity to do something worth while. The Chinese Ambassador [3] and Soong, who is Chiang Kaishek's [4] personal representative, have made confidential proposals to British and American Governments regarding the formation of an international air force in China, probably recruited under the Chinese Government to harry the Japanese and possibly also bomb Japan.

Fifty American aircraft for China are Curtiss P.40 type best available [American] [5] fighter.

With reference to the very secret paragraph in my telegram 400.

[6] This communication has arrived at British Embassy. Ambassador [7] is telegraphing suggested alterations recommended by various specialist officials in the Embassy. Final document will go by special courier to the President [8], probably on Tuesday.

I will be Hartford, Boston, New York 4th December to 6th December.


1 Cordell Hull.

2 See Document 186, note 17, and Document 211.

3 Dr Hu Shih.

4 Commander-in-Chief of Chinese armed forces and member of Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang.

5 Corrected from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 11.

6 Dispatched 27 November. See file AA:A3300, 38. The paragraph referred to a review of the prospective strategic and financial situation of the British Empire in 1941 which Churchill planned to dispatch to Roosevelt to emphasise the need for much greater U.S.

co-operation in the war effort.

7 Lord Lothian.

8 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

[AA:A981, WAR 45, v]