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

Cablegram 722 [1] CANBERRA, 8 November 1941

MOST SECRET IMMEDIATE

Your telegrams 740 and 741 of 6th November [2] and previous telegrams.

Commonwealth Government considers it of the utmost importance that every possible assistance should be given to China. The collapse of Chinese resistance would have serious consequences as Japan would be a much more formidable opponent with China totally defeated. We should not allow Japan the opportunity of so ordering the course of events as to enable her to pursue her policy of aggression in circumstances most favourable to herself. Whilst we feel that American co-operation is most desirable our own action should not be delayed merely on account of any American hesitancy to take action. [3]

2. We are in agreement with proposal of Commander-in-Chief, Far East, to form a Buffalo Squadron for China with volunteer personnel and give permission for Australian personnel to volunteer for this duty, the Commander-in-Chief, Far East, to determine the limit to be placed on numbers of personnel and the consequent reduction in air strength in Malaya which would be entailed. Glad to have information in due course as to arrangements and conditions under which volunteers will serve.

CURTIN

1 Repeated to the N.Z. Prime Minister as no. 565 and to the Commander-in-Chief, Far East (Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke- Popham). The text of the cablegram was transmitted the following day to the Ministers in Washington and Chungking (Sir Frederic Eggleston) as nos 968 and 15 (on file AA : A2671, 369/1941) and Curtin instructed the High Commissioner in the United Kingdom (S.

M. Bruce) to see the Dominions Office copy (see cablegram 6843 of 8 November on file AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi).

2 AA : A3195, 1941, 1.23039-40.

3 These views were in line with those of the South African Prime Minister (Field Marshal J. C. Smuts), relayed to Curtin by Bruce on 6 November with the following comment: 'If you are in accord with the line Smuts takes which in my opinion is absolutely sound, I suggest that it would be most helpful if you cable your views.' Eggleston cabled on I i November that the importance for Australia of maintaining a free China had been put to him by the Chinese Foreign Minister (Dr Quo Tai-chi). Bruce's cablegram go and Eggleston's cablegram 9 are on file AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi.

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