75 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative en route to the United Kingdom, to Mr A. W. Fadden, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered SINGAPORE, 1 October 1941, 4.23 p.m.

PERSONAL FOR FADDEN SECRET

Attended conference 29th with Duff Cooper [1], the Governor of the Straits Settlements [2], Service Chiefs and Diplomatic representatives to Eastern countries, to consider primarily Far Eastern Defence Measures which might act as a deterrent to the Japanese. The Commander-inChief [3] cabling the United Kingdom Government in these terms:-

'The emphatic opinion of the meeting was that only real deterrent to further Japanese aggression would be a British fleet based at Singapore and in the absence of this fleet there is little doubt that Japan will be able to strike at her selected moment. We feel sure that everything is being done to make provision for this requirement as soon as ships can be spared from other theatres which at the moment are active but we would stress the propaganda value of even one or two battleships at Singapore.' [4]

Spirited cable from the Australian Government to Churchill within the next week would help greatly. Bruce should be informed that this cable has gone forward. [5] Local measures suggested were of interest to us and I am writing fully about them. [6]

Owing to American Clipper engine breakdown at Guam am now leaving Singapore Saturday; will probably fly across America in order to keep engagements arranged Washington. [7]

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1 Alfred Duff Cooper, U.K. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, arrived in Singapore on 9 September on a mission to assess the strategic situation in the Far East. He was still there on 10 December when he was advised of his appointment (announced in the House of Commons on 19 December) as U.K. Minister of State for Far Eastern Affairs resident in Singapore. He retained his Chancellorship and presided over the Singapore War Council. He left Singapore on 13 January 1942 consequent upon General Sir Archibald Wavell's appointment to the post of Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area.

2 Sir Sheraton Thomas.

3 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, U.K. Commander-in- Chief in the Far East.

4 The full text of Brooke-Popham's cablegram, containing the recommendations of the conference, is on file AA:A2671, 324/1941.

5 Page's suggestion was considered by War Cabinet on 15 October (See AA: A2673, vol. 8, minute 1407) and a cablegram (Document 87) dispatched; the U.K. Dominions Office supplied a copy of it to the External Affairs Office in London (see file AA:A2937, No. 1. The Pacific. 11 February, 1941-up to outbreak of war with Japan).

6 This was apparently a reference to Page's letter of 1 October to Fadden. See AA:MP1217, Box 475, Far Eastern Defence. Sir Earle Page's discussions in Singapore and London. 1941 7 Page was still in Singapore on 4 October when he heard that Fadden had resigned and John Curtin was to form a Labor Party administration. He immediately cabled Fadden for clarification of his own position (see AA:A3195, 1941, 1.19782) and was advised to continue his journey (see AA:A3196, 1941, 0.15590) On 8 October Curtin formally advised Page (then in Honolulu) that his mission was to continue on the understanding that it was to be confined to matters authorised by the Advisory War Council prior to his departure and any other matter on which he should henceforward be instructed to act (see AA:A3196, 1941, 0.15800).

[AA: CP290/8, BUNDLE 1]