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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume III

12 August 1940

12 August 1940

Circular telegram.

The following is the summary referred to in my message:1

1. The Far Eastern situation was considered in 1937 on the assumptions that:


Any threat to our interests would be seaborne; and that


We could send to the Far East within three months a fleet of sufficient strength to protect the Dominions and India and give cover to our communications in the Indian Ocean.

2. The Japanese advance into Southern China and Hainan, the development of communications and aerodromes in Thailand, the situation in Indo-China resulting from the French collapse, and the increased range of aircraft would now enable Japan to develop an overland threat to Malaya, against which even the arrival of the Fleet would only partially guard.

At the same time, the collapse of France, the development of a direct threat to the United Kingdom, and the necessity of retaining in European waters a fleet of sufficient strength to match both the German and Italian fleets have made it temporarily impossible for us to despatch a fleet to the Far East. Neither of the two above-mentioned assumptions is therefore now tenable and the defence problem has been reviewed in this light.