199 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 835 LONDON, 17 December 1941, 2.10 [a.m.]

IMPORTANT SECRET

Since your telegram 795 of 12th December [1] was despatched, you will have received my telegram 831 of 15th December. [2] This informs you of the urgent measures being taken, at the suggestion of President Roosevelt, by means of regional conferences at Moscow, Chungking, and Singapore [3] to secure at once the closest co-ordination of strategic plans between all nations now engaged in war with the Axis powers. Both as a combatant and as a principal source of supply, the United States are intimately concerned. We are and shall continue to be working in close collaboration with the United States Government. From these discussions important conclusions will present themselves as to the best disposition of resources and weapons available. We hope that discussions at Singapore will enable the special needs of the Far Eastern and Pacific theatres to be reexamined in the light of the new situation. Meanwhile in strategic review of the whole situation in the Far East and Pacific on which we are ourselves engaged at the highest level, every attention is being paid to the serious defence problems with which Australia is now confronted.

Pending completion of these discussions which are proceeding with all speed we have sent to the Far East as immediate reinforcements 12 Blenheim [Mark] fours from the Middle East. We hope to despatch from the United Kingdom four Catalinas on 16th December or 17th December and 52 Hudsons as early as possible to the same destination. We are also strengthening our air forces in India and Burma.

We expect to ship twelve Beaufighters to Australia from the United Kingdom during this month and 14 a month during January, February and March 1942. With regard to deliveries from American programme, much will depend on the discussions mentioned above but we shall do our utmost to assist. The Hudson and Catalina position cannot be forecast with any reliability at present owing to the uncertainty concerning withdrawals by the United States of Lease Lend orders. Will notify you as soon as the position is clear.

1 See Document 183, note 2.

2 Dispatched 15 December. On file AA:A981, War 54.

3 See Document 211.

[AA:A981, WAR 49, i]