381 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram P56 LONDON, 27 February 1942, 4.27 p.m.
MOST IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET HIMSELF ALONE
Following my P. 54  I desire to comment on the points made in
paragraph 10 of your telegram 33  as follows:-
(1) If Ceylon is lost, Australia will need much more strengthening
of its local defences than if it is retained.
(2) Australia always lay bare to attack before the collapse of
Singapore and the Malay barrier. Australia can be attacked more
easily now after the collapse of Singapore, but the probability of
attack will be greater if Ceylon and India are lost. Australia's
importance as a base has been and is being pressed continuously
and is well recognised.
(3) The capital ships will be available to help defend Australia
as well as Ceylon if Ceylon is held in force with troops. If
Ceylon is defended merely by ships, Ceylon as well as the ships
may easily be lost, but even if the ships are retained and Ceylon
is lost the ships will have no main Indian Ocean base and their
value to Australia and the whole of the war strategy will be very
(4) My views on this question were expressed two years ago very
plainly and they have not changed. Now, however, we have to face
the facts that our Australian troops are just at the right spot
and at the very moment to save a vital link in Australia's outer
defences and lines of communication. While they do this important
life-saving job for a month an offer is made to Australia to
substitute the same number of American troops to take their place.
 A month later Australia would have both these Australian and