381 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram P56 LONDON, 27 February 1942, 4.27 p.m.
MOST IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET HIMSELF ALONE
Following my P. 54  I desire to comment on the points made in paragraph 10 of your telegram 33  as follows:-
(1) If Ceylon is lost, Australia will need much more strengthening of its local defences than if it is retained.
(2) Australia always lay bare to attack before the collapse of Singapore and the Malay barrier. Australia can be attacked more easily now after the collapse of Singapore, but the probability of attack will be greater if Ceylon and India are lost. Australia's importance as a base has been and is being pressed continuously and is well recognised.
(3) The capital ships will be available to help defend Australia as well as Ceylon if Ceylon is held in force with troops. If Ceylon is defended merely by ships, Ceylon as well as the ships may easily be lost, but even if the ships are retained and Ceylon is lost the ships will have no main Indian Ocean base and their value to Australia and the whole of the war strategy will be very much less.
(4) My views on this question were expressed two years ago very plainly and they have not changed. Now, however, we have to face the facts that our Australian troops are just at the right spot and at the very moment to save a vital link in Australia's outer defences and lines of communication. While they do this important life-saving job for a month an offer is made to Australia to substitute the same number of American troops to take their place.