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142 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 762 [1] CANBERRA, 30 November 1941


Your telegram 30th November, M.4062, most secret and personal.

Australian Government's position is that we have been awaiting
your advice regarding the four operations presumably open to
Japan. We pointed out that attack on Thailand and a further attack
on China were regarded by us as imminent, and that the N.E.I. and
Russia also are potential theatres of Japanese action, but that no
understanding of what should be done or not done in any one of
these four contingencies had been reached. Our High Commissioner
was requested to consult Page with view to urgent consideration by
British War Cabinet of these four possibilities.

He was advised that we considered understanding should be reached
either with U.S.A. participation or without U.S.A. participation.

[3] We still consider this imperative.

Regarding your M.406, our view is that the Commander-in-Chief, Far
East [4], is advising on the presumption:

(1) the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S.A. Asiatic Fleets does
undertake your reconnaissance on the line Manila-Camranh, and
(2) that the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S.A. Asiatic Fleet
establishes the fact that escorted Japanese ships are approaching
Kra Isthmus.

It is urgent to impress U.S.A. with obligation arising from its
certification of Japanese aggression. We feel U.S.A. evidence
warranting our taking precautions at least requires acceptance by
U.S.A. of her responsibility for the course we thereby think
inevitable. But if this is not practicable because of
constitutional reasons, we hope preliminary understanding at least
will be attained.

We further point out:-

1. Available evidence Japanese Expeditionary Force seems to be
based on U.S. Intelligence Report which also suggests:-

(a) Commander proposed expedition still in Japan;

(b) any attack by Japanese will not come until after breakdown of
Hull-Kurusu [6] talks.

2. Our latest advices from Washington are that in the event of
Japanese attack on Thailand no definite understandings armed
support from United States can be anticipated. [7]

3. This may result in position which you regarded as worst
possible from Empire point of view, namely war with Japan, United
States neutral.

4. Crosby reported on 21st November [8] that Prime Minister of
Thailand [9] regarded with suspicion the suggestion of British-
Thailand co-operation in the region of Kra Isthmus. Crosby further
stated if we occupy Isthmus before actual attack by Japan,
Thailand would oppose us by force and the 'fat would be in the
fire'. Perhaps this dangerous possibility can be definitely
excluded on the assumption of the event contemplated by you,
namely Japanese ships with escort actually approaching the

5. Suggest Crosby obtain definite statement of the attitude of
Thailand in the event of such an attack by Japan.

6. Am calling special War Cabinet tomorrow afternoon. We would be
glad of your Cabinet's consideration subject matter of our
telegram of 29th November to Bruce. [10] Please see that Bruce and
Page receive a copy of this telegram.


1 Repeated to the Minister to the United States as no. 133 and to
the N.Z. Prime Minister as no. 501. Curtin also instructed the
High Commissioner in the United Kingdom (S. M. Bruce) to see the
Dominions Office copy of this cablegram and to show it to the
Special Representative in the United Kingdom (Sir Earle Page). See
cablegram 7511 of 30 November on file AA : A1608, A41/1/5, iv.

2 Document 139.

3 See Document 135.

4 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

5 Admiral Thomas C. Hart.

6 U.S. Secretary of State and Japanese special envoy to the United

7 See Documents 133 and 140.

8 The U.K. Minister to Thailand's cablegram is on file AA : A981,
Thailand 2.

9 Maj Gen Luang P. Pibulsonggram.

10 Document 135.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 178]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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