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478 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram N11 LONDON, 2 May 1942, 1.50 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER SECRET

I made a point of calling on van Mook [1] at the first opportunity
after his arrival in London. In the course of conversation, which
I summarize for what it is worth, he expressed the view that a
major attack on Australia was unlikely. He supported this by
saying that he had a considerable knowledge of the position in
Japan and of espionage work they had been doing all through the
Pacific. From this he knew that they had all their plans fully
prepared for an attack on Malaya, the N.E.I. and Burma but that
their plan went no further than that. He also stressed that for a
major expedition against Australia they would require a much
greater number of transports than they had available. His ideas of
what the Japanese would probably try to do was to cut Australia
off from the rest of the world by seizing New Caledonia, the New
Hebrides and Fiji and thus immobilize 250,000 to 500,000 men.

With regard to the policy that we should pursue he was very
definite that the right course was to assemble sufficient forces
to get the Japanese out of New Guinea and thus progressively try
and seize other islands up towards Java with the object of
concentrating air forces in this area to bomb the oilfields in the
N.E.I. Van Mook offered no sort of criticism or complaint of the
support the Dutch had received in Sumatra and Java.

Van Mook struck me as very intelligent, but what part he will play
here or in America will be dependent upon what his relations with
the Netherlands Government are. I gather the impression that he is
not particularly persona grata with the Netherlands authorities
here but this may be erroneous.

BRUCE

1 Former Lieutenant Governor-General of the Netherlands East
Indies.


[AA:A981, WAR 49, ii]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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