111 Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr N. Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered 24 June 1939,

SECRET PERSONAL

My Government is at present making a review of Commonwealth's defence policy and progress of expanded programme adopted last November by Government at that date. Certain proposals for further increase submitted by Government Adviser(s) have raised important issues as to basis of Australian defence policy. It has already been stated by you that defence of British Empire East of Suez hinges on security of Singapore and presence there of a fleet adequate to give security to our sea communications and to deter an enemy from large scale aggression. I am aware of statements of United Kingdom Government and its Advisers during last Imperial Conference on this subject and your telegrams of March 11th and March 18th, 1938 [1], to the then Prime Minister [2] and High Commissioner [3] subsequent to discussions in London. Nevertheless I would appreciate for the information of the present Government whether assurance can be given that Australia is entitled to assume that in the event of war with Japan the United Kingdom Government would send a fleet to Singapore within appropriate time capable of containing Japanese fleet to a degree sufficient to prevent a major act of aggression against Australia.

MENZIES

1 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. 1, Documents 134 and 144 See also Documents 32, 35, 42, 43 and 47 in that volume.

2 J.A. Lyons.

3 S.M. Bruce.

[PRO: PREM 1/309]