181 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 793 CANBERRA, 11 December 1941


My telegram of 8th December. [1] In view of serious naval losses [2] and grave effects on strategical situation, we would ask that urgent action be taken to furnish appreciation of Chiefs of Staff on Far Eastern position together with comments of United Kingdom Government on the new situation. [3]

1 See cablegram 778 on file AA:A1608, V41/1/1. It drew Cranborne's attention to the fact that the U.K. Govt had provided no comprehensive appreciation of the Far Eastern position since April 1941 (Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, Document 400).

2 The battleship H.M.S. Prince of Wales and the battle cruiser H.M.S. Repulse had been sunk by Japanese aircraft off the east coast of Malaya on 10 December.

3 On 13 December Cranborne dispatched to the Commonwealth Govt a report (prepared by U.K. military advisers) which predicted that Japan's initial objectives would be the capture of Malaya, the Philippines and Hong Kong and further air attacks on Hawaii; other operations might include attacks on the Netherlands East Indies, air fields on Pacific islands, the Panama Canal, ports in Australia, New Zealand and India, and shipping in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. See cablegram M454 on file AA : A981, War 49, i.

[AA: A981, WAR 49, i]