341 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram P43 LONDON, 18 February 1942, 2.48 [a.] [1]m.

MOST IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET HIMSELF ALONE

1. At the Pacific War Council to-night the following recommendations were made to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Washington as principles to guide Wavell [2] in answer to his cabled request for instructions. This request has been repeated to you. [3]

(1) Strenuous resistance should be maintained in Java by forces already available there in order to gain as much time as possible and delay further the Japanese offensive.

(2) Non-Dutch troops already in Java should continue fighting alongside the Dutch.

(3) General Wavell should use his discretion in bringing in the prospective naval and air forces envisaged in the terms of paragraph 8 of his cable.

(4) America should be asked for additional naval and air support for this area.

(5) There should be no attempt to land the Australian Corps in the N.E.I.

(6) Australia should be told that the Australian Government's policy of taking the whole of their forces back into the Pacific area and to Australia would be accepted.

(7) The Australian Government should be asked to agree that the Seventh Australian Division already on water should go to the most urgent spot at the moment, which is Burma. This would be done in conformity with the concluding sentence of paragraph 2 of your telegram 127 [4] 'until other troops are available from elsewhere'. These are the only troops that can reach Rangoon in time to make certain that the Burma Road will be kept open and thereby China kept in the fight. The position of this Convoy makes it imperative that permission should be given to this course within 24 hours.

(8) The next Division that will be shifted from the Middle East will be the 70th British Division which, less one Brigade, will be shipped to Bombay, railed through India and thence by ship to Rangoon. The remaining Brigade will be used to garrison Ceylon.

(9) The remaining Australian Divisions should go as fast as possible back into the Australian area. The leading elements of the 6th Australian Division already embarking and will go straight through to Australia. 2. It was also recommended strongly that the United States should give the maximum help in all form[s] of equipment and personnel and that more American submarines should be sent for offensive duties into the ABDA area.

3. The telegram from New Zealand in regard to strengthening of New Zealand and Fiji as bases [5] should be taken into consideration immediately by the British Chiefs of Staff and also by the joint Staff Committee in Washington.

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1 The Canberra copy of this cablegram was marked p.m., but as the London copy (on file AA:A2937, Far Last position 1942) was dated 17 February it was almost certainly dispatched at 2.48 a.m. on 18 February.

2 Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area.

3 See U.K. Dominions Office cablegram 219 of 18 February on file AA:A816, 52/302/142.

4 Document 336.

5 Repeated to the Commonwealth Govt on 17 February as no. 54. On file AA:A816, 14/ 301/223A.

[AA:A816, 52/302/142]