102 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Circular cablegram M350 LONDON, 5 November 1941, 8.45 p.m.


Following for the Prime Minister:-

My Circular M.348, 349. [1]

Appeal from Chiang Kai-shek. [2]

The Prime Minister [3] has today sent a secret and personal message to President Roosevelt of which the following is the substance:-

(i) The President knows our position in regard to air strength at Singapore. None the less we should be prepared to send pilots and even some aircraft if they could arrive in time.

(2) What is needed now is a deterrent to Japan of a most general and formidable character. The Japanese have as yet taken no final decision and the Emperor appears to be exercising a restraining influence. United States policy of gaining time has been very successful so far, but our joint embargo is steadily forcing the Japanese to decision for peace or war.

(3) The Japanese plan to attack Yunan and cut the Burma Road threatens disastrous consequences to Chiang Kai-shek. Collapse of Chinese resistance would not only be a world tragedy in itself but would free large Japanese forces to attack North and South.

(4) In response to the Chinese appeal for warning Japan against an attack on Yunan, we hope that the President might see fit to remind the Japanese that such an attack aimed at China from a region in which we have never recognised that Japan has any right to maintain forces would be in open disregard of the clearly indicated attitude of the United States Government. We should of course be ready to give similar warning.

(5) No independent action by ourselves will deter Japan, because we are so fully occupied elsewhere. But we will of course stand with the United States and do our utmost to back them in whatever course they choose.

(6) The message concludes with a request for the President's views.

1 Dispatched 4 November. On file AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi.

2 Chinese Prime Minister.

3 Winston Churchill.

[AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi]