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195 Commonwealth Government to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 798 [1] CANBERRA, 16 December 1941


Your telegram No. 829 of 13th December [2]-the Australian
Government. have been advised through Service channels that the
Governor-General Netherlands East Indies [3] has decided to take
action without delay with regard to providing assistance for the
Portuguese in Portuguese Timor and that a consultation is to take
place with the Portuguese at Dilli on 17th December at 0700 hours.

The Australian Commander [4] is being instructed to participate in
this proposed consultation.

The Dutch are making arrangements for a combined force of Dutch
and Australians to travel to Dilli by sea to arrive at 0900 hours
on 17th December, two hours after the consultation is scheduled to
commence, in the anticipation of being invited to land and assist
the Portuguese in the defence of their territory. Our information
from Netherlands East Indies is that it is intended that the force
will land even if the Portuguese Governors should hesitate.

Netherlands East Indies authorities have asked Australia to
provide air protection for ships carrying the above-mentioned
forces. Despite our very limited resources this will be given.

The Commonwealth Government agrees with the proposals of the
Governor-General, Netherlands East Indies.

In view of the urgency for taking action the conference at
Singapore referred to in your telegram is superseded.

At the same time we earnestly press upon you desirability of
having Governor of Portuguese Timor instructed by Portuguese
Government to invite or acquiesce in entry of troops solely for
purpose of protecting Portuguese Timor against Japanese aggression
which seems now only a matter of hours. Further, Government of
Portugal should have ready a statement that we as her ancient
allies will protect her territory and her interests. [6]

1 Repeated to the Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies
and to the Governor of the Straits Settlements for the U.K.

Commander-in-Chief in the Far East.

2 Document 191.

3 Jonkheer Dr A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer.

4 Lt Col W. W. Leggatt.

5 M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho.

6 On 16 December in cablegram 833 Cranborne replied that 'if
possible a rather longer interval should be allowed to elapse
between the time when the Conference at Dilli begins and the time
when the combined force arrives'. This was endorsed by the
Commonwealth Govt and passed on the same day to David Ross, U.K.

Consul in Dili, for communication to Leggatt and to the commanding
officer of Netherlands forces in Timor, Lt Col W. Detiger. See
cablegram 833 and teleprinter message M2955 on file AA:A981, Timor
(Portuguese) 3, i.

[AA:A3196, 1941, 0.21697]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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