Mr N. Chamberlain, U.K. Prime Minister, to Mr J.A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 20 March 1939, 9 p.m.


With reference to our telephone conversations [1] I can only confirm as regards the general position what I said to you, viz. that the United Kingdom Government regard the international situation as Serious. You will however see from Dominions Secretary’s telegram which will be despatched shortly what action we are taking. [2]

In the event of war with Germany and Italy, should Japan join in against us it would still be His Majesty’s Government’s full intention to despatch a fleet to Singapore. If we were fighting against such a combination never envisaged in our earlier plans, the size of that fleet would necessarily be dependent on (a) the moment when Japan entered the war and (b) what losses if any our opponents or ourselves had previously sustained.

It would, however, be our intention to achieve three main objects (i) the prevention of any major operation against Australia, New Zealand or India;

(ii) to keep open our sea communications;

(iii) to prevent the fall of Singapore.


1 No record of these telephone conversations has been found.

2 This probably refers to circular cablegram B110 from U.K. Dominions Secretary, sent 21 March 1939 (on file AA: A1608,A41/1/1,i). It reported the U.K. Cabinet decision to approach the governments of France, Russia and Poland to make with the U.K. a joint declaration that they would immediately consult together to determine what steps should be taken in the event of any action threatening the political independence of any European state.


[PRO: PREM 1/309]