360 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 180 LONDON, 21 March 1941, 3.30 a.m.


My telegram 13th March Commonwealth of Australia 160 [1], New Zealand 88.

Following are the views of our military advisers on telegraphic report of the conference. [2] These have been communicated to Commanderin-Chief Far East. Considered views of H.M.G. in United Kingdom must await receipt of full report.

2. There is a general agreement with their report with the following exceptions:-

(a) The assurance of military co-operation in the event of Japanese aggression. There is at present no progress to report.

(b) Prior definition of an act of war and automatic reaction thereto without reference to London. While the reasons underlying these proposals are appreciated, it is considered that the step which should be held to constitute an act of war by Japan could only be decided on a governmental level in the light of circumstances at the time and that the attitude of United States Government would be all important.

(c) Arrangements for reassembling the conference. Providing the agenda were confined to military questions within the scope of the accepted policy, the proposed procedure is agreed to but if questions of policy were to be discussed, prior reference to the Governments concerned would be essential.

3. It is noted that a common policy as regards denial of oil is receiving consideration. It is assumed that the Commander-in-Chief Far East will arrange with Dutch Colonial authorities for the necessary action to be taken by them in co-ordination with our own as soon as decision to carry out the British oil ration scheme has been taken. Arrangements made should not prejudice the responsibility of each and any local authority to order individual scheme in local unforeseen emergency. Details are awaited.

4. Military advisers for their part agree to proposals regarding participation of Netherlands East Indies in the Eastern Group Supply Council.

1 On file AA:A1608, AA27/1/1.

2 For a copy of the telegraphic report see cablegram 16203 of 27 February from the U.K. Commander-in-Chief in the Far East (Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham) on file Defence: Special Collection I, Box 625, Prime Minister's Visit to United Kingdom, 1941. Paper No. 6. Singapore Conference Report.

[AA:A3195, 1941, 1.4300]