Skip to main content

Historical documents

295 Sir Frederic Eggleston, Minister to China, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 77 CHUNGKING, 23 January 1942


Your telegram No. 21. [1]

I agree entirely with your view and have been opposed to it [sic]
for more than twenty years and disputed it personally with
Alexander in 1936.

your point of view, it is largely preaching to the converted.

Chinese need no convincing on the importance of the Pacific, but
there is definite danger that if the attitude of Knox [2] and
Alexander over-emphasised they may decide that Britain and the
United States will desert them. In view of possible fall of
Singapore and desperate situation in Rangoon which has compelled
us to ask the Chinese for labour to work the port it is all the
more desirable to avoid creating impression that we might desert

3. Assume British reinforcements being sent to Singapore, Java and
Burma, and consider that as far as China is concerned, public
assurances that Britain and United States will continue their aid
should be given. Roosevelt's statement on these lines to van Mook
[3] has had good effect here.

4. In the meantime I will continue to pursue the line you have
suggested [4] and am also urging the British Ambassador [5] to
press your view with Eden. [6] I suggest that Bruce [7] and Page
[8] collaborate with Chinese Ambassador in London [9], stressing
view that if we lose Singapore, Burma and Java we have no base
from which to launch offensive against Japan. Failure to reinforce
Singapore adequately would be serious breach of faith with Chinese
as well as Australia, since not only did Britain promise us
reinforcements when we sent troops to Middle East, but Wavell [10]
and Brett [11] assured Chiang Kai-shek [12] that forces would be

[AA:A4144, 2, i]

1 This appears to be an incorrect reference to Evatt's cablegram
19 of 23 January (on file AA:A981, War 49, i) which reported that
the Commonwealth Govt shared the Chinese Govt's concern at reports
that the U.K. First Lord of the Admiralty, A. V. Alexander, had
said that the Atlantic and Europe were the most important theatres
of war.

2 See Document 291, note 1.

3 Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherland East Indies.

4 See the cablegram cited in note 1. Evatt's instruction to
Eggleston read: 'Your primary task is to understand and express
not British but Australian angle which is fiercely critical of
Alexander's viewpoint.'
5 Sir Archibald Clark Kerr.

6 U.K. Foreign Secretary.

7 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

8 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

9 Dr V. K. Wellington Koo.

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

11 U.S. Deputy Commander, A.B.D.A. Area.

12 Chinese Prime Minister. Eggleston had already discussed the
Alexander and Knox statements with Chiang Kai-shek on 21 January
and left with him a note verbale emphasising the Commonwealth
Govt's opposition to the view that the recovery of territories
lost to Japan in the Pacific could be left until after the Allies
had defeated Germany. See Eggleston's cablegram 69 of 22 January
(on file AA:A4144, 2 (1941-3), i), dispatch 11 of 24 January (in
AA:A4231, Chungking, 1942) and note verbale of 21 January (on file
AA:A4144, 8 (1941-3)).

[2.] While I am making every effort here to obtain support for
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top