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284 Department of External Affairs to Mr David Ross, U.K. Consul in Dili

Radio message 2 CANBERRA, 20 January 1942


My telegram 6th January. [1] As result of London discussions it
was decided with concurrence of Netherlands and Commonwealth
Governments to put following proposal to Portuguese Government for
settlement of high political issues involved in occupation of
Portuguese Timor:

(a) United Kingdom, Commonwealth and Netherlands Governments are
prepared to agree to withdrawal of occupying forces on arrival of
Portuguese reinforcements numbering approximately 800 men.

(b) This agreement is subject to conditions that before any
announcement to above effect is made Portuguese Government will
give a private and secret assurance that Allied forces will be
called in again in event of Japanese attack; that staff
conversations contemplated before landing of Allied troops would
be immediately renewed with object of agreeing on necessary
arrangements; that Portuguese Government will instruct local
Governor [2] not to obstruct task of Allied forces in interval
which must elapse before arrival of Portuguese reinforcements.

2. We are now advised that Portuguese Government accepted above
proposal on January 16th. [3] Portuguese Government will nominate
an officer to proceed to General Wavell's [4] headquarters for
requisite staff discussions. Officer will also be instructed to
discuss the manner of changeover between Allied and further
Portuguese troops. Meanwhile Portuguese Government will renew
instructions to Governor to effect that while he could not
collaborate with Allied commanders [5] he is to put no
difficulties in their way in the exercise of their duties pending
withdrawal of Allied forces. Instructions have already been sent
to the Governor to improve road between Dilli and frontier.

4. [6] Above is for your most secret information. Please pass to
the two Allied commanders alone under the same conditions of

5. We appreciate view expressed in your memorandum of 6th January
[7] that the Portuguese reinforcements are unlikely to provide
adequate or effective defence, but you will understand the
necessity on grounds of high policy to meet the Portuguese wishes
for withdrawal of occupying force. In view of Portuguese reaction
in Europe and probable effect of diplomatic breach on Allied
strategical position and communications matter was really out of
our hands.

6. It will be some time before changeover is effected and interim
period will afford valuable time for improving our means of
meeting Japanese attack in Timor or nearby. You should do all you
can in present difficult circumstances to improve relations with

7. We do not yet know when reinforcements leave East Africa, but
Portuguese Government will issue statement announcing their

1 On file AA:A981, Timor (Portuguese) 3, i.

2 M. de A. Ferreira de Carvalho.

3 See U.K. Dominions Office cablegram 69 of 18 January on the file
cited in note 1.

4 Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area.

5 Lt Col N.L.W. van Straaten and Major A. Spence.

6 The original did not include a paragraph numbered 3.

7 On the file cited in note 1.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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