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223 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 1211 WASHINGTON, 24 December 1941, 3.08 p.m.


1. I was informed of reinforcements that are on the way and of
which I do not know if you are aware.

2. First air reinforcements will be 51 [crated] [1] Hurricane
fighters which are due to arrive at Singapore about 8th January.

One Blenheim squadron (Plus 50% reserves) flying from United
Kingdom via Middle East and due to arrive Singapore early in
January. Fifty two Hudsons which will begin to arrive Singapore
about mid-January and which should all arrive by the end of

3. I emphasized minimum reinforcements for Singapore and Malaya
set out in Duff Cooper's report of Singapore conference [2] (see
my telegram 1190 [3]) and stressed obvious necessity for
additional land and air strength at the earliest possible moment
over and above that in paragraph 2 above, and naval protection for

4. As regards land forces it emerged that quickest reinforcement
was to divert part of the 18th British Division which is now in
course of being transported from Britain round the Cape towards
the Middle East in American ships.

It is now in the Indian Ocean in the vicinity of Mombasa.

Churchill agreed and the President [4] concurred that United
States transport 'Mount Vernon' (part of the above-mentioned
convoy) containing one brigade group of the 18th Division should
be diverted from the vicinity of Mombasa north west [5] towards
Colombo where it could join with the convoy containing the leading
brigade of the 17th Indian Division which is en route for
Singapore where it should arrive about January 8th.

5. Destination of the remainder of the 17th Indian Division and
the remainder of 18th Division remains to be decided. I believe
they could probably all go to Singapore or Rangoon if necessary.

6. Churchill agreed to telegraph General Auchinleck [6] at once to
ask if he could spare four Hurricane squadrons from Middle East to
be embarked on His Majesty's Aircraft Carrier Indomitable. Admiral
Pound [7] agreed that by this means these fighter squadrons could
be got to Singapore (although minus ground staff and spares) about
January 27th.

7. Air Marshal Portal (Chief of British Air Staff) has given
orders that all American ships passing Durban carrying American
fighting aircraft to Middle East should be stopped at Durban and
aircraft taken out in order to make up a shipment that will go
direct to Singapore. A number of these ships carry about 10
Kittyhawk fighters (improved version of Tomahawk). This is the
same proposal as in my telegram 1171. [8]

8. Convoy carrying brigade of 17th Indian Division to Singapore
(see paragraph 3 above) will also contain the following. One light
anti-aircraft regiment of 32 Bofors guns, one heavy A.A. regiment
of 16 3.7 inch guns, one anti-tank regiment of 48 2 pounder guns.

9. One light tank squadron of 17 light tanks is due in Singapore
in late January.

10. As regards naval protection for these various convoys which
will approach Singapore from westward, I suggested that Admiral
Hart's [9] squadron (the balance of U.S. Asiatic fleet which is
based on Sourabaya or thereabouts) might be so employed. This is
being investigated by Secretary of Navy. [10]

11. I am to see Churchill again tomorrow morning when I hope and
believe that he will telegraph you confirming above-mentioned

12. I raised as tactfully as possible with the President question
of destination of American aircraft reinforcements now destined
for the Philippines via Australia in the event that it was not
appropriate for them to be sent to Philippines by time they reach
Darwin. He said that they would then be sent to wherever they were
most wanted, Singapore or elsewhere.

1 Inserted from the Washington copy on file AA:A3300, 101.

2 The report of the U.K. Minister of State for Far Eastern Affairs
resident in Singapore is published as Document 211.

3 Dispatched 22 December. On file AA:A981, War 42.

4 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

5 The words 'north west' did not appear in the Washington copy.

6 U.K. Commander-in-Chief in the Middle East.

7 Chief of the U.K. Naval Staff, then in Washington.

8 Dispatched 18 December. On file AA:A981, War 33, i.

9 Commander of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet.

10 Colonel Franklin Knox.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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