The Telegram ...

“From the British Government to the Canadian Government:
Most Secret, Cypher LONDON, September 19, 1941, No. 162”

“In consultation with the late General Officer Commanding who has recently arrived in this country (Major-General Grasset), we have been considering defences of Hong Kong. Approved policy has been that Hong Kong should be regarded as an outpost and held as long as possible in the event of war in the Far East. Existing army garrison consists of four battalions of infantry, and although this force represents bare minimum required for depot assigned to it, we have thought hitherto that it would not ultimately serve any useful purpose to increase garrison.

Position in the Far East has now, however, changed. Our defences in Malaya have been improved and there have been signs of a certain weakening of the Japanese attitude towards us and the United States. In these circumstances it is thought that a small reinforcement of garrison at Hong Kong, e.g. by one or two more battalions, would be very fully justified. It would increase strength of garrison out of all proportion to actual numbers involved, and it would provide a strong stimulus to garrison and Colony; it would further have a very great moral effect in the whole of the Far East and would reassure Chiang Kai Shek as to reality of our intention to hold the island.

His Majesty's Government in Canada will be well aware of difficulties we are at present experiencing in providing forces which situation in various parts of the world demands, despite very great assistance which is being furnished by the Dominions. We should therefore be most grateful if the Canadian Government would consider whether one or two Canadian battalions could be provided from Canada for this purpose. It is thought that in view of their special position in the north Pacific, Canadian Government would in any case have wish to be informed of need as we see it for reinforcement of Hong Kong and special value of such measure, even though on a very limited scale at the present time. It may also be mentioned that the United States have recently dispatched a small reinforcement to the Philippines. It would be of the greatest help if the Canadian Government could co-operate with us in the manner suggested, and we much hope they will feel able to do so.

If the Canadian Government agree in principle to send one or two battalions, we should propose to communicate with you again as to best time for their dispatch, having regard to general political situation in the Far East.

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs”



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