266 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister (in the United States)

Cablegram Johcu 16 CANBERRA, 11 January 1942

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Wavell [1] has repeated to us his cablegram to the War Office regarding the plan of campaign for operations in Malaya. [2] It is naturally disturbing to learn that the Japanese have been able to over-run so easily the whole of Malaya except Johore and that the Commander in Chief considers certain risks have to be accepted even now in carrying out his plan for the defence of this limited area.

It is observed that the 8th Australian division is to be given the task of fighting the decisive battle. The Government has no doubt that it will acquit itself in accordance with the highest traditions of the A.I.F. However, I urge on you that nothing be left undone to reinforce Malaya to the greatest degree possible in accordance with my earlier representations and your intentions. I am particularly concerned in regard to the air strength as a repetition of the Greek and Crete campaigns would evoke a violent public reaction, and such a happening should be placed outside the bounds of possibility.

You will be aware of our agreement to despatch of the 6th and 7th Australian divisions together with corps troops and maintenance and base organisations from the Middle East to Netherlands East Indies. [3]

1 See Document 252, note 4 2 Wavell's cablegram of 9 January is on file AA:A3300, 219.

3 See Document 257.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.994]