55 Cranborne to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 72 LONDON, 13 March 1945, 8.36 p.m.

TOP SECRET

My despatch 2 of 4th January, participation of Portugal in the war against Japan. [1]

1. As the Commonwealth Government will be aware, in the course of staff conversations at Lisbon the Portuguese requested that their military forces for operations against the Japanese might receive specialised training in Australia or elsewhere within reasonable distance of Timor, and stated that they wished to despatch ahead of the main body a training cadre which would eventually provide instructors for the remainder of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force. The Combined Chiefs of Staff have not yet reached a final decision on this and other questions raised at the Lisbon Conference. They incline, however, to the view, mainly on the grounds of shipping stringency, that any action by the Allies in respect of assembly, shipment, training or equipping of the Portuguese force must be deferred until after the defeat of Germany.

2. The Portuguese Government have recently expressed to us their anxiety that early progress should be made with preparations for the re-occupation of Timor, and for preliminary training of Portuguese troops to be employed on this operation, and have stated that they themselves will be able to arm and equip these troops. In the circumstances, we should like to suggest to the Combined Chiefs of Staff that the Portuguese Government should now be invited to concentrate in Australia an Expeditionary Force of approximately 4,000 (the larger of the alternative forces offered by the Portuguese) and to despatch a training cadre of 100 officers and N.C.O.s in advance of the main body as proposed by them on the understanding that because of requirements of the German and Japanese war we shall be unable to provide ships or to give compensation in tonnage for the Portuguese shipping used.

Once the Portuguese force is in Australia, it is thought that shipping could be found to transport it to Timor when the need arises.

3. Before instructing our military representatives in Washington to put the above proposals to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, we should be grateful for confirmation that the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to accept training cadre, and, later, the main body of Portuguese Expeditionary Force, and to provide accommodation and training facilities for them in Australia.

4. It should be added that the Portuguese are very short of shipping and might on this account feel unable to take advantage of the proposed offer.

1 On file AA:A1838, 377/3/3/3. It advised that notes had been exchanged between the governments of Portugal, the United States and the United Kingdom agreeing to the participation of Portugal in operations to expel the Japanese from Portuguese Timor.

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