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

Cablegram N11 LONDON, 2 May 1942, 1.50 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER SECRET

I made a point of calling on van Mook [1] at the first opportunity after his arrival in London. In the course of conversation, which I summarize for what it is worth, he expressed the view that a major attack on Australia was unlikely. He supported this by saying that he had a considerable knowledge of the position in Japan and of espionage work they had been doing all through the Pacific. From this he knew that they had all their plans fully prepared for an attack on Malaya, the N.E.I. and Burma but that their plan went no further than that. He also stressed that for a major expedition against Australia they would require a much greater number of transports than they had available. His ideas of what the Japanese would probably try to do was to cut Australia off from the rest of the world by seizing New Caledonia, the New Hebrides and Fiji and thus immobilize 250,000 to 500,000 men.

With regard to the policy that we should pursue he was very definite that the right course was to assemble sufficient forces to get the Japanese out of New Guinea and thus progressively try and seize other islands up towards Java with the object of concentrating air forces in this area to bomb the oilfields in the N.E.I. Van Mook offered no sort of criticism or complaint of the support the Dutch had received in Sumatra and Java.

Van Mook struck me as very intelligent, but what part he will play here or in America will be dependent upon what his relations with the Netherlands Government are. I gather the impression that he is not particularly persona grata with the Netherlands authorities here but this may be erroneous.

BRUCE

1 Former Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies.

[AA:A981, WAR 49, ii]