328 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister

Cablegram 166 LONDON, 1 March 1941, 1.40 p.m.

FOR THE ACTING PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Following is summarized report of official discussions during the week ended 28th February, the references being to parts of brief PART I (1) Political Far East and Anglo-French policy discussed with Foreign Office.

Following are main points:

(a) Far Eastern policy The Japanese Ambassador in London [1] has been warned of serious view of situation taken by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and efforts are being made to intensify propaganda designed to persuade Japan that her policy will end in disaster.

Much will depend on the strength and vigour of reactions which United States may be prepared to display to any further Japanese encroachments. I can add nothing further regarding United States to my observations in No. 153 [2] but this aspect will shortly be reviewed again.

I urged however that diplomatic policy towards Japan should not be one of resignation to inevitability of a conflict.

There is nothing to add to the position of China as reported before I left Australia and importance of assisting her to carry on conflict with Japan in order to handicap the latter in new adventures elsewhere.

The United Kingdom Government are keeping in close touch with the United States Government and are trying to, so far as possible, co-operate with their assistance to China with United States measures of a like purpose.

The latter position in regard to co-operation with the Netherlands East Indies is governed by recent staff talks at Singapore. The report of the Commander-in-Chief of the Far East [3] is just to hand and is being examined.

The situation in regard to Thailand is obscure and is governed by the outcome of present negotiations in Tokyo. These will also no doubt determine the future of Indo-China.

The United Kingdom Government's policy is to maintain friendly contact with [... ] [4] Governor-General of Indo-China [5] in order to encourage the French to protect the independence of the territory against Japanese infiltration.

(b) Franco-British Relations It was reported that only satisfactory elements in situation from our point of view are that the French in occupied zone are intensely anti-German and almost unanimously [sic] (apart from a handful of pro-German agitators in Paris) in longing for a British victory and that majority of Frenchmen in unoccupied France feel the same although less intense, that we have Petain's [6] word that he will not surrender fleet or bases to Germany, that he will never forget that Great Britain his ally, and that he is stubbornly resolved not to go beyond Armistice terms in his collaboration with Germany.

The United Kingdom Government find it impossible to establish any direct touch with Vichy and they have recently refused to accept even a British financial representative in France. I find, however, that for obvious reasons Vichy prefers not to appear too friendly to us and that on the whole Petain feels that criticism of him in England, provided it is restrained, strengthens his position.

(2) Strategy (a) Far East appreciation.

(b) Staff conversations.

(c) Singapore conference report.

These were discussed with Service Ministers and Chiefs of Staff Far East appreciation furnished in your telegram No. 97 [7] to Dominions Office is being examined by the Chiefs of Staff and will be discussed shortly.

Staff conversations with the Dutch are subject of a report by the Commander-in-Chief of the Far East just received.

The Staff conversations with United States are now in progress and further advice will be furnished later.

Singapore Conference Report is related to recent conference held at Singapore and will be discussed further at a later date. I am examining measures taken or proposed for strengthening the defence of Singapore in comparison with recommendations of original conference and will make appropriate representations where necessary. In the meantime I am pressing most strongly for despatch of additional fighter squadrons which the Commander-in- Chief pronounced are his greatest need and in which subtraction from fighter strength here would be much less significant than addition to strength of Singapore.

(d) Middle East appreciation. This was covered by my telegram No.

153.

MENZIES

1 Mamoru Shigemitsu.

2 Document 321.

3 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

4 Mutilated in transmission.

5 Vice Admiral Jean Decoux.

6 French Head of State.

7 Document 300.

[AA:A1608, A41/1/6, v]