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196 Mr W. M. Hughes, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Letter 13 May 1938,


With reference to the copy of the C.I.D. Report dealing with (7)
Malaya-Period before relief [1], which was sent to you for
information on the 22nd April, 1938, I feel that this subject is
of such vital importance to Australia that we should press to
obtain information from the United Kingdom Government on those
points which, to my mind, still require clarification.

It is axiomatic that our security in the last resort depends on-
(a) The impregnability of Singapore and/or
(b) The presence of a fleet of sufficient strength to defeat the
fleet of the potential enemy.

It appears that the 'period before relief' referred to,
contemplates the arrival of 'the Main Fleet'. In this respect, the
following important questions come to mind. What is the strength
and composition of this Main Fleet? Does it mean the main striking
force of the British Navy, or one only sufficient to relieve
Singapore, or one sufficient to defeat the main forces of the
enemy. Further, what guarantees, if any, have we that this Main
Fleet will be despatched in any and every contingency, especially
in the event of war or imminence of war in the European theatre?
It may be that the secret defence conversations at the last
Imperial Conference [2] produced the necessary assurances, and
resolved these doubts, but if not, then I feel that Mr Bruce [3]
might be requested to press the Committee of Imperial Defence for
further information along the lines indicated.


1 Attachment to Document 189.

2 Documents 35, 47.

3 High Commissioner in London.

[AA : A1608, C51/1/10]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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