382 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 36[A] LONDON, 27 February 1942, 10.20 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Since drafting my telegram 35 [1] I have seen Cripps [2] and covered much the same ground with him. He was even more emphatic than Attlee" that the importance of Australia as a base is fully recognised and stated that every possible effort is being made to provide in plans under discussion between the Chiefs of Staff here and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Washington, for the maximum possible reinforcements being sent to us.

He said that he and all War Cabinet recognised that the two vital points are Australia and Ceylon and he stressed that the holding of Ceylon was not only essential to our whole position but was of the utmost importance in relation to the defence of Australia.

He said quite frankly and asked me to convey his opinion to you that he thought that Australia would not only be making a great contribution to the common cause by agreeing to the 7th Division remaining in Ceylon for 30 days needed to allow the reinforcements now on their way to arrive but would be acting in her own interests as by such agreement she would create an atmosphere of goodwill towards her that would have a very real value in overcoming in the United States the difficulties in the way of sending adequate assistance to Australia in men and equipment.

I have checked the above with Cripps to make sure that I was correctly representing what he said.

BRUCE

1 See Document 377, note 1.

2 U.K. Lord Privy Seat. Bruce's note of the conversation on 27 February is on file AA:M100, February 1942.

3 U.K. Dominions Secretary. Bruce's note of the conversation on 26 February is on the file cited in note 2.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.8731]