108 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 72A LONDON, 11 June 1945, 6.15 p.m.

TOP SECRET

Portuguese participation in operations for the recapture of Timor.

You will recall Dominions Office telegram 72 of 13th March [1] stating that the United Kingdom Government wanted to suggest to the Combined Chiefs of Staff that the Portuguese Government should be invited to send to Australia a small training Cadre and later an Expeditionary Force, and that Australia would provide accommodation and training facilities. The Dominions Office added that the Portuguese were very short of shipping and might therefore be unable to take advantage of the proposed offer.

In your telegram 92 of 14th April [2], you replied stating that the matter was being examined by the Government's Service Advisers and a further reply would be forwarded as soon as possible.

Since then, you will have had Dominions Office telegram 130 of 28th April [3] and my 55A of 2nd May [4], also my 63A of 23rd May stressing the desirability of an early reply. [5]

Eden now tells me that our failure to reply is causing the United Kingdom considerable embarrassment. He pointed out that the United Kingdom and the United States could go ahead with the Portuguese generally, leaving this particular question open, but in view of the fact that Australia has played so prominent a part in the discussions from the beginning, this would be unfortunate.

An atmosphere of suspicion is being created with the Portuguese, as I sensed when I went to see the Duke of Palmella [6] last week with our reply about the appointment of a Portuguese Charge d'Affaires to Australia (my telegram 71A of 7th June [7]).

Our agreement in principle over the Cadre will probably not impose any heavy burden on us but it may well prove to be a useful gesture, particularly with a view to [8] Portuguese about the future of Timor.

I told Eden I would telegraph to you, and I strongly recommend an early reply to the Dominions Office.

BRUCE

1 Document 55.

2 Cablegram 92 to Cranborne is on file AA : A1838, 377/3/3/3.

3 On the file cited in note 2.

4 On the file cited in note 2. It suggested that if the Australian Govt were to agree in principle to accept the Portuguese detachments it would help smooth present and future relations between the Portuguese and the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Govts.

5 On file AA : A1068, E47/38/8.

6 Portuguese Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

7 Document 105.

8 A sign here indicates 'as received'.

[AA : A1838, 377/3/3/3]