Skip to main content

Historical documents

91 Mr Winston Churchill, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram Winch 1 LONDON, 26 October 1941, 12.20 p.m.

MOST SECRET

1. Your 682 of 16th October. [1]

TOBRUK. Relief is being carried out in accordance with your
decision which I greatly regret.

2. Your 686 of 16th October. [2] I am still inclined to think that
Japan will not run into war with the A. B. C. D. [3] powers unless
or until Russia is decisively broken. Perhaps even then they will
wait for the promised invasion of the British Isles in the Spring.

Russian resistance is still strong especially in front of Moscow
and Winter is now near.

3. Admiralty dispositions had been to build up towards the end of
the year, H.M.S. RODNEY, H.M.S. NELSON and four R's based mainly
on Singapore. This, however, was spoiled by the recent injury to
H.M.S. NELSON which will take three or four months to repair.

4. In the interval, in order further to deter Japan, we are
sending forthwith our newest battleship PRINCE OF WALES to join
H.M.S. REPULSE in the Indian Ocean. This is done in spite of
protests of the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet [4] and is a serious
risk for us to run. The PRINCE OF WALES will be noticed at
Capetown quite soon. In addition the four 'R' battleships are
being moved as they become ready to eastern waters. Later on
H.M.S. REPULSE will be relieved by H.M.S. RENOWN which has a
greater radius.

5. I agree with you that the PRINCE OF WALES will be the best
possible deterrent and every effort will be made to spare her
permanently. I must, however, make it clear that the movements of
the PRINCE OF WALES Must be reviewed when she is at Capetown
because of the danger of TIRPITZ breaking out and other
operational possibilities before the DUKE OF YORK is ready in
December.

CHURCHILL

1 See Document 77, note 4.

2 Document 87.

3 See Document 44, note 9.

4 Vice-Admiral Sir John Tovey.


[AA : A1608, E45/2/1, V]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
Back to top