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

Cablegram 230 LONDON, 7 April 1941, 10.10 p.m.

MOST SECRET IMMEDIATE

Arising out of staff talks at Washington, it is proposed to convene a conference at Singapore to prepare plans for conducting military operations in the Far East on the basis of Anglo-United States, Dutch co-operation in conformity with the report of the Washington conversations but without political commitment. H.M.

Governments in the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand are invited to send representatives to this conference.

2. Commander in Chief Far East [1] will be Chairman of the conference and the following are being invited to attend or to be represented in addition to Australian, New Zealand and the United States representatives: Commander in Chief China [2], Commander in Chief East Indies [3], Netherlands East Indies Defence Authorities.

3. The proposed date for assembling the conference is 18th April.

The United States Government has already agreed to this date which we hope is also agreeable to the Commonwealth [and] New Zealand Governments.

4. The Commander in Chief Far East has been instructed to proceed with arrangements for the conference forthwith and it has been suggested that he should arrange details direct with the Commonwealth and New Zealand authorities and with the Netherlands East Indies Defence authorities.

5. A copy of the final report of staff talks in Washington is due to leave Los Angeles by air 6th April addressed to your Chief of Naval Staff. [4] It is therefore possible that your representatives at the Singapore conference will be in possession of the Washington report before departure.

6. On conclusion of the main conference it is proposed that opportunity be taken to complete plans on the basis of United States neutrality and clear up any outstanding points arising out of the Anglo-Dutch Australian conversations held at Singapore in February 1941.

7. Further information regarding the April conference will follow.

8. The above arrangements should meet the request in paragraph 5 of the Commonwealth Government's telegram 187 of 27th March [5] repeated to Prime Minister of New Zealand 98. Suggestions of the Commonwealth Government with regard to points for discussion as given in Commonwealth Government's telegram 206 2nd April [6] repeated to Prime Minister of New Zealand III will receive full consideration in drawing up the terms of reference for the talks proposed in paragraph 6 above. [7]

1 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

2 Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton.

3 Vice Admiral R. Leatham.

4 Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin, but see Document 355, note 2.

5 Document 366.

6 Document 378.

7 The terms of reference for the conference were conveyed to the Commonwealth Govt in Cranborne's cablegrams 248 of 11 April and 262 of 15 April (on file AA: A816, 37/301/88). The Commonwealth Govt advised that it concurred in the proposed terms of reference of the conference in cablegrams 230 and 238 of 15 April and informed the U.K. Govt in cablegram 225 of 11 April that its delegation would be led by Colvin (see file AA: CP290/6, 70). The other members of the delegation were Paymaster Captain J. B.

Foley; Commander R. F. Nichols; Colonel H. G. Rourke; and Group Captain F. M. Bladin. For the Commonwealth Govt's instructions to the delegation see War Cabinet Agendum 135/1941 of 16 April on file AA: A981, Far East 26A, and War Cabinet Minute 972 of 28 April in AA: A2671, 109/1941.

[AA: A981, FAR EAST 26A]