91 Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram Winch 1 LONDON, 26 October 1941, 12.20 p.m.


1. Your 682 of 16th October. [1]

TOBRUK. Relief is being carried out in accordance with your decision which I greatly regret.

2. Your 686 of 16th October. [2] I am still inclined to think that Japan will not run into war with the A. B. C. D. [3] powers unless or until Russia is decisively broken. Perhaps even then they will wait for the promised invasion of the British Isles in the Spring.

Russian resistance is still strong especially in front of Moscow and Winter is now near.

3. Admiralty dispositions had been to build up towards the end of the year, H.M.S. RODNEY, H.M.S. NELSON and four R's based mainly on Singapore. This, however, was spoiled by the recent injury to H.M.S. NELSON which will take three or four months to repair.

4. In the interval, in order further to deter Japan, we are sending forthwith our newest battleship PRINCE OF WALES to join H.M.S. REPULSE in the Indian Ocean. This is done in spite of protests of the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet [4] and is a serious risk for us to run. The PRINCE OF WALES will be noticed at Capetown quite soon. In addition the four 'R' battleships are being moved as they become ready to eastern waters. Later on H.M.S. REPULSE will be relieved by H.M.S. RENOWN which has a greater radius.

5. I agree with you that the PRINCE OF WALES will be the best possible deterrent and every effort will be made to spare her permanently. I must, however, make it clear that the movements of the PRINCE OF WALES Must be reviewed when she is at Capetown because of the danger of TIRPITZ breaking out and other operational possibilities before the DUKE OF YORK is ready in December.


1 See Document 77, note 4.

2 Document 87.

3 See Document 44, note 9.

4 Vice-Admiral Sir John Tovey.

[AA : A1608, E45/2/1, V]