Cablegram 594  LONDON, 8 September 1942, 6.43 p.m.
Your telegram of 26th August, No. 407. 
I have consulted the Chiefs of Staff and the following are their
2. Since the despatch of the Dominions Office cablegram No. 362 of
the 6th April to which you refer  the situation has altered
considerably. There is no doubt that the offensive recently
undertaken by the Americans in the Solomon Islands area will do
much to contain the Japanese naval forces in the Pacific and will
therefore reduce the likelihood of an enemy sortie in strength
into the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless until operations in south-west
Pacific have developed further a Japanese incursion into the
Indian Ocean, even if only as a diversion, cannot be ruled out of
3. Our present views on the conditions in the Indian Ocean area
are as follows:-
(a) The land strength in India has steadily increased but you will
note that we have recently had to move one division and one
armoured brigade from India to the Persia-Iraq command.
(b) The flow of shore based aircraft into the Indian Ocean area
had to be held up in the Middle East when a critical situation
developed there in July and it is still not possible to release
more than a small proportion of them. We are therefore still short
of what we consider should be the minimum shore based air force
strength in the Indian Ocean theatre.
(c) Our plans for naval reinforcements of the Eastern Fleet have
had to be withheld, firstly on account of the need for
replenishing Malta and again for operations contemplated in the
near future. The present strength of the Eastern Fleet is two
modernised battleships, one aircraft carrier and a bare minimum of
cruisers and destroyers. In addition there are two of the 'R'
class , unmodernised and short of destroyer screen.
4. It is for the above reasons that in our view the possible
transfer of British naval forces from the Indian Ocean to the
Pacific is not yet opportune.
5. With the recent heavy losses sustained by the Royal Australian
Navy we fully realise your anxiety in this matter but for the
reasons given above no concentration of combined British and
American naval forces in the South-West Pacific Area is under
contemplation at present.
6. Administrative plans and preparations for an emergency move of
a portion of the Eastern Fleet capital ship and carrier strength
to the SouthWest Pacific Area or, in certain circumstances,
temporarily to the Atlantic and Mediterranean are, however, in
train, and the A.C.N.B.  is being kept informed.