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

Cablegram 786 LONDON, 27 November 1941, 4.53 p.m.


My telegram 767 of 18th November. [1]

Ambon, Koepang and Namlea.

The Netherlands reply now received points out that A.D.A. [2] conversations at Singapore in February referred to the despatch of Australian troops after outbreak of war in the Pacific. The Netherlands Government however concur in the despatch at an earlier stage, provided that the Netherlands Authorities deem this desirable having regard to the political and military situation but this is not the case at present.

2. Despatch of troops without absolute necessity might lead to undesirable incidents with the population, which in turn might have unfavourable repercussions on Netherlands-Australian relations. This applies in particular to the population of Ambon.

Therefore despatch of foreign troops should in the opinion of the Netherlands Government be postponed as long as possible.

3. The Netherlands Government feel that the despatch of air force personnel would be more acceptable than army personnel, and despatch of air force personnel as indicated in paragraph 1 of your telegram 684 of 17th October [3] is accordingly agreed to.

4. Besides despatch of the above air force personnel, the Netherlands Government agree to the despatch to Koepang of 30 (repeat 30) Australian infantry in addition to 14 said to be already in Dutch Timor.

5. The Netherlands Government desire that details should be arranged direct between the Netherlands East Indies and Australian Authorities.

6. They similarly desire that the Netherlands East Indies and Australian Authorities should decide when arrival of the main bodies of Australian troops is desirable and suggest that the United Kingdom Authorities in Singapore should help in co- ordination.

7. The Netherlands Government intend to inform the United States Government of the broad outline of these arrangements.

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

2 Anglo-Dutch-Australian.

3 On the file cited in note 1. The cablegram was actually dated 16 October.

[AA : A1608, AA27/1/1]