85 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 683 CANBERRA, 16 October 1941

IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Your telegram 689 of 13th October. [1] Commonwealth Government concurs in approach being made to Portuguese as well as to Netherlands authorities and agrees to lines of enquiry suggested in paragraph 3 of your telegram.

Commonwealth Government will co-operate to fullest practicable extent in provision of military assistance for Portuguese Timor if Portuguese agree to accept reinforcements from outside Portuguese Timor, as a result of the approach which is now being made.

Australian Air Forces to be provided under existing plans for the reinforcement of Ambon and Koepang will also be available for operations in Portuguese Timor. Australian military forces earmarked for Koepang are sufficient only for the defence of that place and we are prepared to accept commitment for despatch of additional troops to Portuguese Timor in contingency referred to.

We would emphasise importance of obtaining the consent of the Netherlands Government to the movement of Australian forces to Ambon and Koepang before the outbreak of hostilities and of advance parties immediately. It is noted that this is to be mentioned to the Netherlands authorities at a very early date and a separate telegram is being forwarded [2] regarding the aspects raised in your telegram 690 of 14th October. [3]

1 Document 82.

2 Cablegram 684 of 16 October on file AA : A1608, AA27/1/1.

3 On the file cited in note 2.

[AA : A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 3, i]