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

Cablegram 873 LONDON, 23 December 1941, 5.25 p.m.

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET AND PERSONAL

Following for the Prime Minister from Deputy Chairman, Defence Committee. [1]

Your JOCHU 10. [2] The Defence Committee have given this telegram earnest consideration while preparing their review on Far Eastern policy, a summary of which has been telegraphed to you (Dominions Office telegram M.476 [3]).

2. You have received Duff Cooper's [4] report (Dominions Office telegram 861 [5]) on the inter-allied conference held at Singapore on 18th December. Our comments on Part II of this report are being telegraphed to you separately, (Dominions Office telegram 872 [6]).

3. A complete picture of what we have done to meet immediate defence requirements in Malaya is set out in the above telegrams.

We are now examining further measures to maintain the flow of men, aircraft and material to the battle in the Far East.

4. Any judgment of the adequacy of our preparations in the Far East prior to the Japanese attack must have regard not only to what was desirable but what was possible in the light of the limitations of our resources and the demands made upon them.

It would have been strategically unsound to deprive theatres in which active operations against our principal foes were actually in progress in order to reinforce a theatre which was not at that time in the active war area.

5. Any judgment which we may make on the conduct of operations must await a full report of the facts, which we have not yet received.

1 Clement Attlee.

2 Document 208.

3 Document 215.

4 U.K. Minister of State for Far Eastern Affairs resident in Singapore.

5 Document 211.

6 Dispatched 23 December. On file AA:A981, War 33, attachment B.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.29212]