258 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
Cablegram 13 CANBERRA, 6 January 1942
MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET
1. Your No. 10.  Our Chiefs of Staff have carefully considered the new proposal as to Portuguese Timor. They advise as follows:-
(1) It should be realised that the defence of Timor as a whole is closely bound up with the defence of Darwin and the Netherlands East Indies. The occupation of Timor by Japan would seriously prejudice the defence of Darwin.
(2) We do not consider that the arrival of 700 Portuguese troops would constitute an adequate protection of Portuguese Timor nor could it be so regarded even if the present Dutch and Australian troops are retained in addition.
(3) The forces now available in both Portuguese and Dutch Timor, together with the proposed addition of 700 Portuguese, are capable of keeping out only 'small nibbles' and are not capable of withstanding any serious Japanese attempt to seize the Island unless very considerable air forces could be brought immediately to their aid. Such air forces seem unlikely to be available in the near future.
(4) The defence problem of Timor as a whole would be very much facilitated if that portion of the road from Dilli to the Dutch border, which is now merely a pack track, were converted to a motor road. This would enable troops to be moved from Koepang to Dilli by road if the local situation permitted such action.
2. In view of the above, the proposal seems dangerous.
3. Now that Wavell  is responsible for area which includes Timor, his opinion on military aspect should in our view be immediately obtained and no action should be taken unless he is prepared to take full responsibility for the risks involved.