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214 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States

Cablegram 1103 CANBERRA, 23 December 1941


Following is telegram referred to in my immediately preceding
message: To (1) President of the United States (2) Prime Minister
of Great Britain. [1]

1. At this time of great crisis I desire to address you both while
you are conferring for the purpose of advancing our common cause.

2. I have already addressed a communication to Mr. Churchill on
the question of Russia [2] which I regard as of great importance
in relation to the Japanese war, and which I hope will receive the
consideration of you both during the conference.

3. I refer now to a matter of more pressing importance. From all
reports it is very evident that in North Malaya Japanese have
assumed control of air and of sea. The small British army there
includes one Australian division, and we have sent three Air
Squadrons to Malaya and two to N.E.I. The Army must be provided
with air support, otherwise there will be repetition of Greece and
Crete, and Singapore will be grievously threatened.

4. The fall of Singapore would mean the isolation of Philippines,
the fall of N.E.I. and attempts to smother all other bases. This
would also sever our communications between the Indian and Pacific
Oceans in this region. The set back would be as serious to U.S.A.

interests as to our own.

5. The reinforcements earmarked by United Kingdom Government for
despatch seem to us to be utterly inadequate especially in
relation to aircraft, particularly fighters.

6. At this time, small reinforcements are of little avail. In
truth the amount of resistance to Japan in Malaya will depend
directly on the amount of assistance provided by Governments of
United Kingdom and United States.

7. Our men have fought and will fight valiantly. But they must be
adequately supported. We have three divisions in Middle East. Our
airmen are fighting in Britain, Middle East and training in
Canada. We have sent great quantities supplies to Britain, Middle
East and India. Our resources here are very limited indeed.

8. It is in your power to meet the situation. Should United States
desire, we would gladly accept United States commander in Pacific
area. President has said Australia will be base of increasing
importance, but in order that it shall remain a base Singapore
must be reinforced.

9. In spite of our great difficulties, we are sending further
reinforcements to Malaya.

10. Please consider this as matter of greatest urgency. [3]


1 See cablegram 1102 of 23 December (on file AA:A981, War 33,
attachment B) which advised Casey that the message was addressed
jointly to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and
instructed him to ensure that it was delivered to them immediately
and if possible simultaneously.

2 See Document 212.

3 The dispatch of this cablegram was approved by the Advisory War
Council on 23 December following consideration of the cablegram
published as Document 213. On 24 December a copy was forwarded to
the U. S. Minister to Australia, Nelson Trusler Johnson, with a
request that he support it by direct representations to the U.S.

Govt. See AA:A2682, vol. 4, minute 623 and letter from Lt Col W.

R. Hodgson, Secretary of the External Affairs Dept, to Johnson on
file AA:A981, Pacific 8, ii.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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