367 Mr A. W. Fadden, Acting Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister (in London)

Cablegram 166 27 March 1941,

MOST SECRET

Please see cablegram No. 187 to Dominions Office regarding AngloDutch-Australian Conversations at Singapore. [1]

2. In expressing the views indicated in paragraph 7 of the cablegram, War Cabinet were influenced by the opinion contained in your telegram M.20 of 12th March [2] that it was far better to face the facts by preparing a definite plan of naval reinforcement east of Suez on a progressive basis according to the probable outcome of events in the Mediterranean.

3. With regard to paragraph 8 of the cablegram War Cabinet agreed that if it be decided that the R.A.N. light surface vessels should in the event of war with Japan remain in the Mediterranean and Red Sea area the United Kingdom might be asked to consider the possibility of making available in lieu naval assistance other than light surface vessels for the defence of sea communications in Australian and New Zealand waters.

4. We are greatly concerned at the failure of the Conference to produce a coordinated Naval plan for the Far East and we have asked United Kingdom Government to take steps as soon as possible to convene a conference so that the plan may be completed without further delay.

We consider that the Conference should be held at Singapore and we will telegraph Dominions Office our views as to its scope and points for discussion in a few days.

It would, of course, greatly assist the deliberations of the Conference if the plan for reinforcement east of Suez were made available to it and we would be glad if you would approach Admiralty with a view to this being done.

5. Would appreciate if you would take up other points mentioned in cablegram and advise.

FADDEN

1 Document 366.

2 On file AA:CP 290/9, 13. It contained a report of the conversation recorded in Document 343.

[AA:A3196, 1941, 0.3764]