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87 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to Lord Cranborne, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs

Cablegram 686 CANBERRA, 16 October 1941


For Prime Minister. [1]

At first meeting of War Cabinet of my Government observations in
cablegrams Nos. 608 of 31st August [2] and 684 of 12th October [3]
relative to the intention to despatch a squadron of capital ships
and a battle cruiser were noted during general review of war
position and Australia's effort in relation thereto.

These advices were noted with great satisfaction and my Government
fully supports the reasons put forward by the preceding Government
in cablegram No. 582 of 4th September [4], regarding the
importance of such dispositions for the defence of empire
interests in the Eastern Hemisphere, for the maintenance of
communications to the Middle East and for sustaining generally the
war efforts of the Dominions in Pacific and their overseas forces
in particular.

It is, therefore, strongly urged that the re-disposition be made
as early as possible and it is hoped that your reference to the
inclusion of first class units among the capital ships indicates
an intention to despatch a modern capital ship in view of its
deterrent effect on Japanese and the decisive influence it might
have in maintaining command of the sea in the Indian and Pacific
Oceans. [5]

1 Winston Churchill.

2 Document 54.

3 On file AA : A1608, A41/1/5, iii.

4 See Document 54, note 5.

5 This cablegram embodied a decision taken by War Cabinet on 15
October (see AA : A2673, vol. 8, minute 1407). The importance of
including a modern capital ship in the squadron to be sent to the
Far East had already been urged by the High Commissioner in the
United Kingdom, S. M. Bruce (see his record of a High
Commissioners' meeting on 10 October attended by Vice-Admiral Sir
Tom Phillips (Vice-Chief of the U.K. Naval Staff) and his
cablegram 67 of 14 October on file AA : M100, October 1941). On 16
October Curtin thanked Bruce for his efforts (see cablegram 6186
on file AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi) and instructed him to see the
Dominions Office copy of cablegram 686 and draw it to the
attention of Sir Earle Page on the latter's arrival in London.

[AA : A1608, A41/1/6, vi]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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