254 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr J. van Holst Pellekaan, Netherlands Consul in Sydney

Letter MELBOURNE, 22 January 1941

MOST SECRET

I am in receipt of your letter of 18th January [1] in regard to the despatch of a Military Mission from Australia to the Netherlands East Indies for secret staff conferences. [2]

The Commonwealth Government are in agreement with the proposals made in your letter and will despatch a Delegation consisting of a Naval officer, an Air Force officer and a technical officer from the Ministry of Munitions to the Netherlands East Indies for secret conversations at an early date, on the understanding that they do not imply any political commitments on either side.

It is proposed that the Delegation should leave Australia in 10 to 12 days' time. I shall arrange for further advice to be sent to you as to the names of the officers and the proposed date of departure as soon as possible. [3]

My Government also agree to the proposed visit of the Chief of the Indies General Staff to Australia at a later date. [4]

ROBERT G. MENZIES

1 On file AA:A816, 58/301/79.

2 On 12 January, while on a visit to the Netherlands East Indies, the Minister for the Army (P. C. Spender) had obtained the agreement of the Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies (Jonkheer Dr A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer) to these staff talks taking place. See Spender's report to Full Cabinet of 16 January on file Defence: Special Collection I, Box 626, Report by the Minister for the Army (the Hon. P. C. Spender) on his Visit to the Middle East.

3 On 31 January the Acting Prime Minister (A. W. Fadden) advised the Netherlands Consul-General in Australia (Tom Elink Schuurman) that the Australian delegation would leave Sydney for Batavia on 7 February and would include Wing Commander W. L. Hely and Squadron Leader H. W. Berry of the R.A.A.F.; Commander V. E. Kennedy of the R.A.N.; and R. H. Doyle, Controller of Production and Statistics, Munitions Dept. See file AA:A981, Defence 143A. For a full report on the visit see file AA:A816, 58/301/79.

4 Maj Gen H. ter Poorten planned to visit Australia during February 1941, but was prevented from doing so by the political situation in the Far East. See Elink Schuurman's letter of 7 February on file AA:A981, Defence 143A.

[AA:A981, DEFENCE 143A]