214 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram 1103 CANBERRA, 23 December 1941


Following is telegram referred to in my immediately preceding message: To (1) President of the United States (2) Prime Minister of Great Britain. [1]

1. At this time of great crisis I desire to address you both while you are conferring for the purpose of advancing our common cause.

2. I have already addressed a communication to Mr. Churchill on the question of Russia [2] which I regard as of great importance in relation to the Japanese war, and which I hope will receive the consideration of you both during the conference.

3. I refer now to a matter of more pressing importance. From all reports it is very evident that in North Malaya Japanese have assumed control of air and of sea. The small British army there includes one Australian division, and we have sent three Air Squadrons to Malaya and two to N.E.I. The Army must be provided with air support, otherwise there will be repetition of Greece and Crete, and Singapore will be grievously threatened.

4. The fall of Singapore would mean the isolation of Philippines, the fall of N.E.I. and attempts to smother all other bases. This would also sever our communications between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in this region. The set back would be as serious to U.S.A.

interests as to our own.

5. The reinforcements earmarked by United Kingdom Government for despatch seem to us to be utterly inadequate especially in relation to aircraft, particularly fighters.

6. At this time, small reinforcements are of little avail. In truth the amount of resistance to Japan in Malaya will depend directly on the amount of assistance provided by Governments of United Kingdom and United States.

7. Our men have fought and will fight valiantly. But they must be adequately supported. We have three divisions in Middle East. Our airmen are fighting in Britain, Middle East and training in Canada. We have sent great quantities supplies to Britain, Middle East and India. Our resources here are very limited indeed.

8. It is in your power to meet the situation. Should United States desire, we would gladly accept United States commander in Pacific area. President has said Australia will be base of increasing importance, but in order that it shall remain a base Singapore must be reinforced.

9. In spite of our great difficulties, we are sending further reinforcements to Malaya.

10. Please consider this as matter of greatest urgency. [3]


1 See cablegram 1102 of 23 December (on file AA:A981, War 33, attachment B) which advised Casey that the message was addressed jointly to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and instructed him to ensure that it was delivered to them immediately and if possible simultaneously.

2 See Document 212.

3 The dispatch of this cablegram was approved by the Advisory War Council on 23 December following consideration of the cablegram published as Document 213. On 24 December a copy was forwarded to the U. S. Minister to Australia, Nelson Trusler Johnson, with a request that he support it by direct representations to the U.S.

Govt. See AA:A2682, vol. 4, minute 623 and letter from Lt Col W.

R. Hodgson, Secretary of the External Affairs Dept, to Johnson on file AA:A981, Pacific 8, ii.