Skip to main content

Historical documents

8 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 562 (extract) WASHINGTON, 26 July 1941, 2 a.m.


My No. 559. [1] I saw Secretary of Navy. [2] He told me

confidentially that naval arrangements under which the United

States Navy take over the protection of merchant shipping in

north-west Atlantic were well advanced and that this control would

begin to come into operation possibly within a week and that this

should provide appreciable relief to British Navy in Atlantic. He

said, of course, the movements of British warships from the

Atlantic to Singapore would be a matter for decision by the

British Government. He said that the United States Government had

no proposals in view for movements of any more American warships

from the Pacific into the Atlantic. I understand from British

sources that although the above-mentioned American control of

north-west Atlantic may begin within a week it is unlikely to be

fully established for two or even three weeks.

With reference to Prime Minister's telegram No. 80 [3] I can well

understand your anxiety to get undertaking of armed support from

United States Government in view of possibility of conflict in the

Far East arising from the result of the joint economic action.

However, I believe that it will be impossible to get such

undertaking. I believe that events and not logic[al] [4] arguments

will drive the United States into belligerency. However, I believe

that the present moment is appropriate to seek to get a speeding

up of the naval plans arrived at in the staff conversations in

Washington in March 1941 [5] which entail a redistribution of

naval forces as between the Atlantic and Singapore. As you will

remember, the abovementioned plan entailed the movement of three

United States capital ships from the Pacific into the Atlantic.

This has already been done. The plan envisaged the movement of six

British capital ships from the Atlantic to Singapore on the United

States becoming belligerent and on the threat of war in the Far


[matter omitted]


1 Document 17

2 Colonel Franklin Knox.

3 R. G. Menzies's cablegram is published as Document 16.

4 Corrected from the Washington copy on file AA : A3300, 98.

5 The report of the United States-British staff conversations at

Washington, dated 27 March 1941, was attached as Annex C to a War

Cabinet submission of 14 May 1941. See Documents on Australian

Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. IV, Document 455.

[AA : A1608, A41/1/5, iii]

Last Updated: 2 February 2011
Back to top