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

Circular cablegram M215 LONDON, 6 August 1941, 12.55 a.m.


Following for Prime Minister.

My Circular M.213 of 5th August. [1]

The question of giving an assurance to the Netherlands Government
has been under prolonged consideration here and has been the
subject of frequent approaches by the Netherlands Government, more
particularly in relation to the recommendations of the Singapore
Conference. [2] But we have not hitherto felt able to enter into
definite commitment, owing largely to uncertainty as to the
attitude of the United States Government.

2. When the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs [3] saw the
Netherlands Minister [4] on 1st August, however, he said that as a
result of recent consideration of the whole Far Eastern question
he was in a position to tell him that His Majesty's Government in
the United Kingdom deemed themselves already to have assumed the
duty of safeguarding and restoring the possessions and rights of
the Netherlands to the best of their ability during war and at
peace. It followed, therefore, that an attack on the Netherlands
East Indies would lead His Majesty's Government to do the utmost
in their power, though His Majesty's Government must remain the
sole judge of what action or military measures were practicable
and likely to achieve a common purpose. Mr. Eden added that of
course much would depend on the attitude of the United States
Government since supporting action by them would render many
things possible which could not be undertaken now.

3. The Netherlands Minister expressed satisfaction that Mr. Eden
had been able to speak in this sense, since our delay in giving
any reply to the Netherlands Government's approach had begun to
cause anxiety particularly to the Governor-General of the
Netherlands East Indies [5], who perhaps did not understand as
well as the Netherlands Government in London the difficulties of
our position. [6]

1. On file AA : A981, Japan 174, ii.

2 For previous discussion of this question see Documents on
Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, index entry:

Netherlands, Far East joint declaration, possible participation

3 Anthony Eden.

4. Jonkheer E. Michiels van Verduynen.

5 Jonkheer Dr A. W. L. Tjarda van Starkenborgh Stachouwer.

6. S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, viewed
Eden's statement as 'a delaying action' pending Churchill's
discussions with President Roosevelt. Bruce also commented that,
in the light of a conversation he had had with the Netherlands
Minister, the U.K. Govt's description of Michiels van Verduynen's
reaction was 'hardly accurate' and that the Netherlands Govt had
been 'growing increasingly impatient' at the delay in giving a
guarantee. See Bruce's cablegram 619 of 6 August on file AA :

A981, Japan 185B, ii.

[AA : A981, JAPAN 185B, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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