200 Mr M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho, Governor of Portuguese Timor, to Lt Col W. W. Leggatt and Lt Col W. Detiger, Commanders of Australian and Netherlands Forces in Portuguese Timor

Letter (translation) DILI, 17 December 1941

In reply to the communique which you gentlemen handed me at 9.20 a.m. today [1], requesting me to accept the help of the Australian and Dutch Forces, which will be directed immediately to the territory of this colony, I have the honour to inform you that, in accordance with the instructions from my Government in Portugal, I cannot accept this help, because the position with regard to the conflict is one of strict neutrality, and because no aggression of any sort has taken place in our territory, the last-mentioned being the sole condition under which the Government of Portugal could accept the help of Australian and Dutch Forces for the Defence of the Colony.

According to information received from my Government, His British Majesty's Government has already been informed of the abovementioned viewpoint.

Under these circumstances every disembarkation of forces will be considered as a breach of the neutrality of our territory. [2]

1 On file AA:A816, 19/301/820A.

2 On 18 December the Prime Minister, John Curtin, received a cablegram from Ferreira de Carvalho which, as translated in Canberra, read: 'The Governor of the colony of Portuguese Timor protests vigorously against the aggression, absolutely contrary to the principles of law, being carried out against this part of Portuguese territory, by Dutch and Australian forces, who claim to be acting in accordance with instructions received from the Government of the Netherlands Indies in agreement with the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia'. See file AA:A981, Timor (Portuguese) 3, i.

For a detailed account of the arrival of Allied forces in Portuguese Timor see there port dated 18 December by David Ross, U.K. Consul in Dili, on file AA:A981, War 72.

[AA:A816, 19/301/820A]