178 Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram 812 LONDON, 10 December 1941, 8.12 p.m.
MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET
My telegram 803 Portuguese Timor. 
The Portuguese Government are arranging to send a representative
to Singapore but it is unlikely that he can arrive before 25th
December at the earliest and it seems very important to make some
immediate provision against the possibility of Japanese attack on
Portuguese Timor. From discussions held with the Portuguese
Ambassador  it is apparent that the Portuguese Government would
not agree to admit Allied troops at this stage without further
evidence of Japanese designs on their territory but we think that
they might be prepared to authorise the Governor  to make a
local request for Australian military assistance without reference
to Lisbon if and when he has reason to apprehend that a Japanese
attack may be threatening. Would it be in accordance with the
wishes of the Commonwealth Government that the Portuguese
Government should be asked if they would issue such authorisation
immediately? If so could we inform Portugal that Australian Forces
would be ready to give all assistance within their power?
The Dutch have made representations here and in Lisbon on the need
for safeguarding Portuguese Timor and we should hope to arrange
that the Portuguese Government give their Government in Timor
similar authority to invite the Dutch to co-operate. The matter
has been explained to the Netherlands Government who agree to the
action suggested so far as they are concerned.
We think that this arrangement though not precise on paper should
meet the situation in practice. It is designed to take account of
Portuguese difficulties as a neutral. You will understand the
vital importance of urgency.
[AA:A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 3, i]