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3 Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 430 (extract) [1] CANBERRA, 10 July 1941


Reference your M.140 and 141. [2]


Further consideration has been given to plans under which

Commonwealth Government will provide Army units to reinforce Ambon

and Koepang and also an air striking force at Darwin to operate

from advanced bases to be established in collaboration with the

Netherlands East Indies authorities at these localities. [3]

It is considered that authority of Netherlands East Indies should

be obtained for the despatch of these forces as soon as southward

movement is made by Japan. It is also desired that consideration

be given to seeking the concurrence of the Netherlands East Indies

to movement in anticipation of Japanese action. In any event,

authority is desired by Army and Air Force authorities to despatch

advance parties in uniform immediately. [4]

Chief of the Naval Staff [5] is examining the position in regard

to shipping requirements and availability of vessels.


The United Kingdom Government will no doubt have prominently in

mind my discussion regarding disposition of R.A.N. ships in event

of war with Japan and your assurance that every endeavour will be

made so to judge the situation that the ships in the

Mediterranean, together with the Australian forces in the Indian

Ocean, are redisposed so as to reach Australian waters, on, or

shortly after, the outbreak of war with Japan. [6]

[matter omitted]


1 This cablegram embodied decisions made by War Cabinet earlier

the same day (see minute 1176 in AA : A2673, vol. 7). It was

repeated to the N.Z. Govt and to the Legation in Washington as nos

255 and 68.

2 Dispatched 9 July. On file AA : A1608, A41/1/6,v. They dealt

with the likelihood of a Japanese advance and outlined possible

measures to be taken if it were directed southwards.

3For previous consideration of this question, see Documents on

Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, Documents 366, 40S and


4The U.K. Govt replied on 7 August (cablegram 549 on file AA :

A981,Japan 185B, ii):'We have not so far taken any action to

approach the Netherlands Government further in this matter since

we had felt that it would be useless to approach them with a

specific proposal on the question of reinforcement of Ambon and

Koepang unless we were in a position to deal with a counter

request from the Dutch which they would no doubt make for some

assurance of support in the event of their territory in the Far

East being attacked. As to the question of an assurance please see

my Circular M. 215 of 6th August [Document 34].'

5Admiral Sir Ragnar Colvin. From 4 March to 17 July Colvin was

officially on sick leave and Commodore J. W. Durnford was

appointed to act as Chief of Naval Staff. Colvin, however,

continued to fulfil the duties of the position on some occasions.

6 Menzies's London discussions had arisen out of the Commonwealth

Govt's dissatisfaction with the imprecision of the naval plan

discussed at the 1940 Singapore Conference. See Documents on

Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, voL IV, Documents 285, 287,

300, 343, 366-7 and 400.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 185B, i]

Last Updated: 2 February 2011
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