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

Cablegram 336 4 February 1941,

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your telegram 76 of 31st January. [1] We appreciate arrangements to inform us of progress of conversations. We have not yet been advised of United Kingdom Delegation's instructions. Considerable importance is attached to early receipt of progress reports, especially in view of conversations between United Kingdom, Australian, New Zealand and Netherlands East Indies representatives which are to commence at Singapore on 22nd February. We shall be glad if you will arrange for transmission of reports as soon as received. Every precaution will be taken to ensure utmost secrecy.

2. Following information is furnished in regard to matters referred to in your telegram:

(1) Brigade Group together with necessary ancillary troops totalling 5875 departing approximately 3rd February, due Singapore 17th February under command of Major-General Bennett, G.O.C., 8th Division.

(2) Ninety Beauforts planned for delivery to R.A.F. between March 1941 and end of 1941. Understand Air Ministry propose to allot these aircraft to Singapore.

3. In regard to the discussions we lay great importance on the bases to the north and east of Australia, i.e., Suva, Port Moresby, Darwin, and possibly New Caledonia and New Hebrides and their defence. We consider this line to be the most favourable one for U.S. naval reinforcements to the Singapore area. Initial Japanese action might be to attempt to occupy such bases, and if successful would, it is considered, make the passage of U.S. naval forces extremely hazardous. It is of the utmost importance that naval, military and air steps should be taken to deny such action to the Japanese, and we would be grateful for any expression of views by the United Kingdom or U.S.A. Delegations which might be sounded out. This matter is of particular importance in view of the forthcoming discussions at Singapore. It is desired that Burrell [2] raise these points and submit the earliest possible advice.

1 Document 264.

2 Naval Attache at the Legation in Washington.

[AA:A3831, 1941, 196]