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

Cablegram 829 LONDON, 13 December 1941, 8.30 p.m.


Your telegram 12th December, 797. [1]

Portuguese Timor
The Portuguese Government have accepted the proposals made to them
that, in virtue of their alliance with us, assistance should be
provided to Portuguese Timor in the event of a Japanese attack,
such assistance to be furnished by Australian and Dutch Troops,
and they have agreed to instruct the Governor of Portuguese Timor
[2] without delay to invite such assistance if occasion arises or
to acquiesce in it being furnished in the event of there being no
time for an invitation to be extended. The Governor is being
empowered to get into touch forthwith with the Governor of Dutch
Timor [3] and to discuss with him matters of common interest which
are of immediate application. It was impressed upon the Portuguese
Ambassador [4] that since the Japanese might act at any moment it
was essential that the local authorities in both Portuguese and
Dutch Timor should be given wide latitude so as to ensure that
assistance contemplated was forthcoming in good time.

The Portuguese Government are anxious that the proposed local
discussions contemplated in my telegram 803 of 8th December [5]
should if time permits be held at Singapore and they will nominate
a military officer who will be ready to leave by air on 17th
December. They have also been given to understand that there is no
question of the continued presence of Australian and Dutch forces
in Portuguese Timor once the emergency is over.

It is clear from the attitude adopted [by] [6] the Portuguese
authorities [to] this approach that they are very anxious to give
prominence to the ancient alliance and that it would be helpful if
Australia's share in the armed support to be given to Portuguese
Timor is relatively substantial and conspicuous. We hope therefore
that the Commonwealth Government will be prepared to instruct the
Commander of their forces in Timor [7] to take part in any
consultation which may be arranged at Dilli on this matter. It
will be appreciated that effective assistance to the Portuguese in
Timor should the Japanese attack develop will in addition to its
immediate importance have implications of the highest importance
in respect of [the Portuguese] attitude in regard to such of their
territories elsewhere as may later be threatened and as we may
feel it necessary to safeguard.

1 Document 187.

2 M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho.

3 F. J. Nieboer was Netherlands Resident at Koepang.

4 Dr A. R. de S. Monteiro.

5 Dispatched 9 December. On file AA:A981, Timor (Portuguese) 3, i.

6 Words in square brackets have been corrected from the London
copy on file AA:A2937, Timor-Portuguese, defence operations, i.

7 Lt Cot W. W. Leggatt.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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