80 Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr V. G. Bowden, Official Representative in Singapore

Cablegram 3 CANBERRA, 13 October 1941

IMMEDIATE SECRET

For Latham on arrival. [1]

I agree with views expressed to you by late Government in cablegram of 4th October that it is desirable you return to your post as soon as possible. [2]

Although I would personally welcome consultation with you, I am inclined to view, on account of wrong construction which has been placed on visit to Australia [3], that it might be advisable for you to adhere to your original proposal of visiting Singapore only.

We understand governor [4] has returned from India and Duff Cooper [5] will return on 17th to Singapore.

However I propose to raise matter in War Cabinet on Wednesday and will wire you before the 17th, the date of your proposed departure from Singapore. [6] In any case, you should come direct to Australia and not stay over in Batavia.

Kind regards.

EVATT

1 The Minister to Japan had left Tokyo on 26 September, arriving in Singapore on 14 October for talks with U.K. authorities. He had intended (at the suggestion of Sir Frederick Stewart, then Minister for External Affairs) to proceed to Australia for further consultations. See cablegrams 255 of 11 September and 440 of 18 September on file AA:A981, Australia 193.

2 See the Fadden Govt's unnumbered cablegram on the file cited in note 1. The cablegram did, however, instruct Latham to proceed direct to Australia for consultations before returning to Tokyo via Singapore.

3 Sections of the press in Japan had seen Latham as going to Singapore to receive orders from British authorities bent on obstructing Japan's plans for East Asia. See cablegram 464 of6 October from F. K. Officer, Charge d'Affaires in Japan, on file AA:A1608, A41/1/6, vi.

4 Sir Shenton Thomas, Governor of the Straits Settlements.

5 U.K. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, then in the Far East.

See Document 75, note 1.

6 The War Cabinet agreed with Evatt (see cablegram 8 of 15 October on the file cited in note 1) but, in the event, Latham became ill, came on to Australia and was still convalescent when the Legation in Tokyo was closed in December.

[AA:A981, AUSTRALIA 193]