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318 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to General Sir Archibald Wavell, Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area

Cablegram 13 CANBERRA, 6 February 1942


Your telegram 00740 of 4th February to Chiefs of Staff. [1]
Commonwealth Government agrees to despatch of A.I.F. Pioneer
Battalion at Darwin to Koepang to accompany United States 148
Artillery Regiment. [2]

2. Forces now at Darwin are the minimum necessary to provide for
its defence and reinforcement of Koepang at the expense of Darwin
will seriously weaken the latter's defence. You will be aware of
decision of combined American [and] British Chiefs of Staff to
divert from American air squadrons now being organised in
Australia one fighter group of 80 aircraft to operate under
command of the R.A.A.F., in order to meet the immediate need for
the defence of north-east approaches to Australia and to ensure
continuity of communications between Australia and the United
States. Darwin is a key-point in the maintenance of communications
in north-western approaches and is of equal importance to Koepang.

In agreeing to make available A.I.F. Pioneer Battalion we expect
that every possible step will be taken to ensure that Darwin is
adequately reinforced to frustrate any Japanese attack.

3. The Australian Minister, Washington [3], has been instructed to
represent our views on the importance of Darwin to the Americans
and ourselves in order to prepare the way for any request for
United States of America aid in that region. [4]

4. I would be glad if you would arrange for communications on
important questions of policy to be forwarded to Prime Minister,
cable address Kindlier Canberra. This should also apply to
appreciations which you may wish to communicate from time to time
and other information which you consider will be of aid to the
Government in view of its vital interest in the A.B.D.A. Area and
the Australian forces placed at your disposal.


1 Not found.

2 The convoy carrying the 2/4th Pioneer Battalion of the A.I.F.

left Darwin for Timor on 15 February but was subsequently ordered
by Wavell to turn back to Darwin.

3 R. G. Casey.

4 See cablegram 153 of 6 February on file AA:A3300, 220.

The decisions set out in the first three paragraphs of this
cablegram were approved by the Advisory War Council and War
Cabinet on 5 February. See AA:A2682, vol. 4, minute 734 and
AA:A2673, vol. 10, minute 1873.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.3703]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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