"Our position in the Far East would be stronger without this unsatisfactory commitment": Britain and the reinforcement of Hong Kong, 1941.
Canada proved willing, despatching "C" Force to Hong Kong. Arriving in mid-November, its 1,975 soldiers had only three weeks to prepare before having to combat a Japanese invasion that forced the colony's surrender on Christmas Day. Much of the historical literature shares the view the reinforcement flew in the face of rising tension in Asia and overlooked the vulnerability of the place. If British and Canadian officials really thought two more battalions at Hong Kong would deter Japan, in George Stanley's words, "they displayed a political naivete beyond comprehension."(2) Equally critical was Basil H. Liddell Hart. He stated that Hong Kong's bolstering "was the clearest of all examples how strategy and common sense, can be sacrificed vainly for the sake of fanciful prestige. Even the Japanese never committed such folly 'for face' as did the British in this case."(3) Claiming the only possible reason for the switch was that Grasett had presented manpower "from a 'hitherto unregarded source' - Canada," Carl Vincent has alleged the British deliberately worded the telegram asking for help in such a way that Ottawa may have reasoned Hong Kong's outpost status had been altered. To Canadian historian Donald Creighton, as Canada relied entirely upon Britain for intelligence gathering, Britain's "request was virtually an order."(4)
This article contends that strengthening Hong Kong was a reasonable act that in hindsight has acquired an unworthy moral taint. Many who have criticized the reinforcement have not given enough credit to the context in which that choice was made. Ignoring the critical prewar debate concerning Hong Kong's defensibility, a debate that demonstrates clearly a lack of consensus and consistency in Britain about the need to defend the colony, many of these critics have also played down British and American resolve to deter Japanese aggression by diplomatic action and the assigning of additional military resources to Asia. Hong Kong must be seen as but a small part of this much wider effort. When it seemed clear in late 1941 the Americans could be counted on to support Britain, and Grasett presented the possibility of employing Canadians, the British swallowed concerns about Hong Kong in favour of a risky strategy that sought to deter Japanese attack with a minimal effort.
Concerns about Hong Kong were not new by 1941. A 1911 Committee of Imperial Defence (C.I.D.) study concluded the colony could not resist a determined Japanese assault for more than a month unless the garrison was raised to twenty thousand troops and received naval support. But opposed to tying up forces at Hong Kong, the C.I.D. favoured reasserting naval supremacy in Asian waters so the colony would not have to withstand a substantial siege.(5) Notwithstanding this judgement, the army attempted to increase the garrison from three to eight battalions, only to see the C.I.D. rule that no power but China was able to send more than two thousand troops against Hong Kong.(6)
World War One ensured the colony became a backwater, but once that conflict ground to a halt, the Admiralty initiated a search for a far-eastern base location capable of supporting offensive operations. Singapore was chosen, Hong Kong being rejected due to vulnerability to land-based attack, proximity to Japan, and its small anchorage.(7) Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill, suggested in 1925 that the colony's strategic value had diminished once Singapore became Britain's major base. He argued war with Japan was unlikely and Japanese power overrated, and claimed that cutting the garrison might reassure Japan. Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty disagreed. Hong Kong was a danger point, but if Singapore was retained and adequate warning of an attack received, Beatty was confident Hong Kong could be made "comparatively safe by taking strategic steps and measures for its defence," and if left undefended, we would "never bring a war to a successful conclusion against Japan, because we should have to have an advance base."(8)
Improving Hong Kong's defensibility, however, was limited by Britain's ratification of the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. Its most controversial provision, Article XIX, compelled the signatories to maintain the fortification status quo in the western Pacific. Hong Kong was not excluded. Despite the restrictions, the C.O.S. ruled in June 1926 that Hong Kong would be of great importance in a war and therefore should rank behind only Singapore in terms of resource allocation.(9) Since losing Hong Kong would forfeit "the best anchorage in the north China Sea" for only once it was retaken could the Royal Navy (R.N.) bring serious pressure to bear on Japan, and recapturing it "would require a very great expenditure of effort, and even then a successful issue could not be regarded as certain," the Joint Planning Sub-Committee (J.P.S.C.) unsuccessfully recommended a garrison of ten infantry battalions, engineers, and ten to twelve Royal Air Force (R.A.E) squadrons.(10)
A more optimistic estimate was offered three years later. If six battalions and five squadrons were in place before an attack began, the defenders would stand a good chance of withstanding a forty-four-day siege until rescuers arrived.(11) Such hopefulness did not last. Japan seized Manchuria in September 1931, and then withdrew from the League of Nations in February 1933, demonstrating that for Britain and the United States, "each preoccupied with major economic and political troubles at home, not only was the will lacking to force Japan to back down, but so were the means." So lacking were the means that the C.O.S. warned in March 1932 Hong Kong and Singapore could "not be expected to hold out in the event of hostilities suddenly occurring with Japan . . ."(12)
One solution to Hong Kong's problem was radical. Admiral Sir Ernie M. Chatfield, Beatty's successor, fearing a defence of both Singapore and Hong Kong might result in the loss of both, suggested withdrawal in February 1933. Chatfield realized advocating the abandonment of Hong Kong "might have repercussions of a political nature which might make the proposition untenable, but from a purely strategic point of view he felt strongly that our present policy was indefensible." Major-General W.H. Bartholomew, the army's Director of Military Operations and Intelligence (D.M.O.P.), demurred. While currently indefensible against a heavy assault, Hong Kong was as an outpost which should be held as that was "quite likely to delay any Japanese attack on Singapore." Colonel Sir Maurice Hankey, C.O.S. Secretary, also objected for fear China might occupy the colony, which "would be even more humiliating."(13)
In October 1933 the C.O.S., while acknowledging Germany's growing menace, ranked Britain's Far East interests the nation's first priority, a judgement confirmed by the cabinet.(14) Determining how those interests might be protected fell to the newly-created Defence Requirements Sub-Committee (D.R.C.). Treasury Secretary Sir Warren Fisher asked in December 1933 whether it was agreed it was impossible to guarantee Hong Kong and Shanghai as "we were only in China on sufferance as far as the Japanese were concerned." Chatfield dissented. Work on Singapore was progressing well, and once complete Britain would be in a stronger position and after 1935 free presumably "to strengthen Hong Kong, if it was still our national policy to hold it." Reversing his position, the Admiral disagreed that Hong Kong would necessarily be lost in a conflict, but commented Britain need not be drawn into a war to defend it. Hong Kong would be useful to support offensive operations against Japan, but "it might be sufficient to hold Singapore." The C.I.G.S., General Archibald A. Montgomery-Massingberd, arguing risks had to be taken with outposts like Hong Kong, said "attention should be directed to Hong Kong to see what could be done to improve the position there" once Singapore was ready. But for the next three years Singapore should come first along with preparations against Germany.(15)
The D.R.C.'s February 1934 report confirmed more should be done to improve Singapore's and Hong Kong's defences in that order, for despite treaty limitations Hong Kong remained an important outpost, as British interests in the China Seas could not be protected without it. The D.R.C. also believed strengthening Asian defences was vital as Japan likely would "respect and listen to a Power that can defend its interests than to one that is defenceless." Yet although Japan was the more immediate threat, the D.R.C. regarded "Germany as the ultimate potential enemy against whom our 'long range' policy must be directed." By adopting the tactic of "showing the tooth" in Asia, the D.R.C. hoped to achieve "an ultimate policy of accommodation with Japan," leaving Britain free to contain Germany.(16)
But as long as Britain and Japan remained at cross purposes over China, "Japan remained a potentially hostile power, a source of perpetual anxiety."(17) Also left unaltered was the confusion about Hong Kong. Charged with training officers in matters of strategy and international relations, the Imperial Defence College (I.D.C.) carried out a lengthy Hong Kong exercise in 1934. Describing the colony's position as precarious and warning its loss could have repercussions throughout the empire, the I.D.C. doubted three battalions could withstand a siege longer than twenty days. It recommended adding at least one battalion and possibly an entire brigade, plus eight R.A.E squadrons. Ultimately, Hong Kong's security depended on the main fleet arriving "in sufficient time for its presence to influence the military situation." Suggesting also Hong Kong might have to be sacrificed to gain world sympathy, the I.D.C. emphasized acquiring American support, for "owing to the geographical situation of the Philippines co-operation on the part of the United States would add materially to the security of our Far Eastern possessions and of reinforcements on passage to Hong Kong."(18)
One war office official, asserting Hong Kong could not be held even if vast sums were spent on defences, worried strengthening it might "provoke war in conditions which lend themselves to criticism both at home and abroad."(19) His superior dissented. Hong Kong's loss would deal an enormous blow to imperial prestige and probably lead to Britain "being kicked out of China for good and all, which in itself might be Japan's war aim." Protecting Hong Kong required not more troops, "but brains, ingenuity, wire, concrete, and mines. If these devices were used to the fullest extent, the delay which they [would] cause is almost incalculable."(20) Brains and ingenuity were not enough for the C.O.S. They recommended despatching four squadrons to Hong Kong, and seeking troops from India and Australia or China.(21) The C.I.D. was more cautious. Montgomery-Massingberd assured Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald that while Hong Kong's defence would not be "an easy matter," it was "perfectly possible if a sufficient garrison was available and the gun and other defences put in order." Since money and men were in short supply, the C.I.D. approved one squadron while authorizing an approach to India about troops.(22)
Nearly a year passed before Hong Kong appeared again on the military's agenda. There was much to be considered though, as Japan had declared it would not be bound by the Washington treaty after 1936. Montgomery-Massingberd suggested two options: six battalions capable of holding the colony; or two battalions sufficient to fight a delaying action until reinforced or evacuated. The C.O.S. preferred the first, but owing to the "peculiar conditions at Hong Kong," the C.I.D. deemed it impossible to increase the garrison. Political will was lacking too. Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain was unwilling to find the money, arguing "[t]he stronger the defences, the longer Hong Kong could hold out, but if it fell ultimately, the greater loss of prestige."(23)
Uncertainty about Hong Kong's strategic usefulness was not resolved by the C.O.S. Sub-Committee's May 1937 Far East appreciation. Admitting Hong Kong could not repulse a well-executed Japanese assault and that it might wait ninety days for relief, the appreciation proposed evacuation or reinforcement. Withdrawal would cut losses, avoid entanglement in south China, and deny Japan the opportunity to reduce "the superior strength of our fleet by attrition," but would weaken chances of forcing a successful fleet action and reduce British influence in China. Sending more soldiers would increase the colony's chance of resisting capture and compel Japan to commit more resources, an important factor if the Americans or the Soviets sided with Britain. But there was no way of knowing how much longer a bolstered garrison could hold out and no guarantees the R.N. could arrive in sufficient strength either to evacuate the troops or to launch offensive operations. After weighing these considerations, the Chiefs concluded there could be no question of evacuating or reducing Hong Kong's military complement as the colony "should be regarded as an important, but not vital, outpost and should be defended as long as possible."(24)
Arthur Harris of the R.A.F. took his opposition one step further. Having been one of the appreciation's authors, Harris refused to sign it unless his reservations were included. Making Hong Kong reasonably secure would "require an effort and an expenditure greatly in excess of that required for Singapore." But even if that was done, the colony's geographical situation was "such that, if indeed, it were possible to secure it against capture or investment, it was impossible, in my opinion, to defend it against air attack by the Japanese Metropolitan Air Force to an extent which could prevent its profitable use as an operational Naval base," adding that "neither on the score of military necessity, practicability, prestige or trade necessity, are we justified in an attempt to hold (and still less to use) Hong Kong in the face of determined attack by Japan."(25)
The likelihood of such an assault increased substantially after a Sino-Japanese clash on 7 July 1937 mushroomed into a war encompassing much of China. Neutral, Britain pursued a plan that gave Japan some economic and strategic gains in China while ensuring Japan would not dominate its vast neighbour. Worried about the growing power of Germany and Italy, the British hoped Japan would either become reasonable or exhaust itself trying to absorb China. And while Britain would not sell arms in quantity to the belligerents, it allowed munitions from other nations and private firms to be shipped to China through Hong Kong, a flow that averaged sixty thousand tons a month from July 1937 to November 1938.(26) Britain's policy put its outposts in the region at risk and Hong Kong was especially vulnerable. Consequently its commander, Major-General A.W. Bartholomew, asked in August 1937 for nine battalions. But recognizing resources were scarce and that even twelve battalions might not resist a determined attack, Bartholomew would settle for a force large enough to discourage a coup de main; eight battalions, four brigades of artillery, and five squadrons.(27) Accepting the need to guard against a surprise assault, the C.O.S. doubted anything could be done to improve the colony's defensibility if Japan occupied Kwangtung province directly north of Hong Kong. They recommended six battalions and refused to allocate any aircraft, claiming a few airplanes would not survive a "Japanese preponderance in air strength." However, the Chiefs argued against overrating Britain's problems for:
Japan is notoriously short of money and raw materials; she has already three-quarters of a million men involved in operations on the mainland of China; she has seriously antagonised public opinion in the United States of America; and she cannot but be apprehensive of Soviet Russia. In all of these circumstances it seems scarcely conceivable to us that she will deliberately do anything at Hong Kong which is bound to involve her in war with the British Empire.(28)
Left unresolved was a source for the extra battalions. The war office wanted to approach New Zealand and Australia, but the suggestion suffered a quick death when D.M.O.P. Major-General Henry Pownall labelled the idea "a pretty barren affair" which would "terrify the Dominions Office." The C.O.S. agreed. Pointing to uncertainty created by the Sino-Japanese War and the fact Hong Kong policy was under review, they ruled "we do not think it worth while to take into consideration the stationing of Australian troops at Hong Kong."(29)
Thrashing out that policy was neither quick nor quiet. C.I.G.S. General the Viscount Gort claimed a larger garrison was politically impossible. Hankey concurred; Britain could not afford to maintain two first class Far Eastern bases, while Air Chief Marshal Sir Cyril Newall added "that it would be a waste of money to locate air forces at Hong Kong; they could be used to much better advantage elsewhere." Chatfield advised caution. Although embarking upon a major fortification program while China remained unstable was unwise, he opposed abandoning the mainland territories in favour of holding Hong Kong Island itself. Without the mainland facilities, "there would be no point in sending out the Fleet to Hong Kong at all." Since a Hong Kong garrison would almost certainly force Japan to divert forces to take it, thus weakening any attack against Singapore, Chatfield believed nothing had changed to cause the C.O.S. to modify their decision to defend Hong Kong, and "[i]f his colleagues now felt that our whole policy at Hong Kong should be reconsidered, it would mean going back upon the advice the Chiefs of Staff had consistently tendered to the Government during the last five years."(30)
Gort and Newall were quick to respond. Maintaining that Japan might soon be able to attack Hong Kong via China rather than by sea as originally expected, Gort doubted the mainland could be held, while retaining Hong Kong Island alone would deny the anchorage to the Japanese and probably would require only four infantry battalions. Newall concurred. Even if British forces could manage to hold the mainland, the naval facilities, within enemy artillery range, would be unviable. And while doubting the R.A.F. could do much, reluctant to see his service abandon the fortress, Newall proposed sending some close support and reconnaissance aircraft.(31)
Although conditions had worsened over the previous two years, Chatfield thought his colleagues too pessimistic. Japan might occupy part of southern China, but it was just as possible China would become stronger, especially if given Soviet support. Abandoning the mainland would result in the loss of considerable amounts of valuable fuel, not to mention the dockyards and other supply depots. Defending the Royal Navy's honour, Chatfield maintained the navy could not accept the proposition that vulnerable bases should not be used in wartime. Unimpressed by Japan's air force, even under the best circumstances it was "open to doubt" whether Japan would be prepared "to maintain first-class air bases fully stocked with fuel and bombs in southern China." Air attack alone could not deny the anchorage's use, especially "if adequate possible air defence measures were taken." Certainly if Britain was warring simultaneously with Germany and Japan, and if the fleet sent to Singapore was inferior to the Imperial Japanese Navy, Hong Kong's position would be precarious and evacuation possible. But if Japan alone was confronted, "Hong Kong might be of the greatest value to us. Indeed, by coming to the support of the garrison if it were invested and thus acting offensively against the Japanese naval forces covering the investing force, we might have the best chance of all of bringing a Fleet action to our advantage." Yet, having done his best to refute Gort and Newall, Chatfield announced the recommended policy should follow their proposals while insisting his views also be put forward. Why he backed down is unclear but finance probably ranked high, Chatfield having commented that spending money on mainland defences could not be justified at the moment, but that this "policy would have to be reconsidered when the situation as between China and Japan became clearer." It is also likely he knew he would be outvoted. Whatever the reasons, the Chiefs assigned Hong Kong a "Standard C" defensive rating - the denial of the use of the anchorage to the enemy.(32) They rejected demilitarizing the fortress in peace or evacuating it in war as abandonment would entail a serious loss of G5prestige, and if retained, Hong Kong "would fulfil the proper function of an outpost by drawing off forces which might otherwise be used against Singapore." Moreover, because conditions might change to Hong Kong's benefit, to close "down a fully-equipped naval base in the Far East merely because at the present time it appears to be in a very dangerous position would seem to us a short-sighted policy [emphasis in original]."(33) Agreeing "defences should be designed primarily for the defence of the Island itself," the C.I.D. added "[t]hat this policy should be kept under constant review, particularly in the light of the outcome of the present Sino-Japanese war."(34)
And constant review was necessary, given the changing nature of the Sino-Japanese conflict. Japan seized Canton in October 1938, severing the colony's connection to China's Nationalist regime, while a second operation launched in February 1939 overran Hainan Island, three hundred miles south of Hong Kong, making the "isolation of the colony . . . almost complete."(35) Disturbing as this was, events half a world away preoccupied Britain. War with Germany was averted in September 1938 only after German demands for the Sudeten-land were satisfied. Worry that Germany's expansionist thirst had not been slaked permeated a February 1939 C.O.S. appreciation. Assuming Britain and France would have to face a hostile coalition composed of Germany, Italy, and Japan, the Chiefs concluded the "British Empire would thus be threatened at home, in the Mediterranean and in the Far East at the same time, and it would be hard to choose a worse geographical combination of enemies." Singapore might be assaulted, and it was "almost certain that Japan would attack Hong Kong." However, the services cautioned that the size and composition of the armada sent to combat Japan "must depend on our resources and the state of the war in the European theatre."(36)
The timing of the navy's arrival in Asian waters was uncertain too. In late February 1939 the J.P.S.C. recommended ninety days rather than seventy, an increase with obvious ramifications for all of Britain's Asian possessions. Any hopes this might be overly pessimistic were dashed when Germany seized Czechoslovakia in March 1939, followed by Hitler's denunciation of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement and his demands for Polish concessions. Cognizant the Royal Navy was not ready to confront three enemies at once, the C.I.D. ruled in early May "that there are so many variables which cannot be assessed, that it is not possible to state definitely how soon after Japanese intervention a Fleet could be despatched to the Far East. Neither is it possible to enumerate precisely the size of the Fleet that we could afford to send."(37) Further evidence of Britain's weakness came when Japan blockaded its concession in the Chinese city of Tientsin in June 1939. Facing war, the Royal Navy could spare only two battleships, an aircraft carrier, and two cruisers. As this would be no match for the Japanese navy, the Chiefs advised it would not be a proper strategic measure to send any ships unless American aid was available, a verdict the Cabinet accepted.(38)
This was a reluctant acknowledgement that the Singapore strategy, "a bogus policy that implicitly recognized the chronic weakness of British power,"(39) could no longer be sustained. But salvage seemed possible if war did not come simultaneously in Europe and Asia, or if Britain acquired American assistance, for as an October 1938 War Office study had asserted, "Japan must realize that an unprovoked attack by her on British possessions in the Far East might bring the U.S.A. in against her, and might possibly lead to her ultimate defeat, even if she succeeded in capturing Singapore." Secret discussions held in June 1939 with the United States Navy (U.S.N.) prove disappointing though. The U.S.N. was considering shifting much of its fleet to Hawaii to deter Japan if war began in Europe, and was willing to talk about sending ships to Singapore if hostilities with Japan broke out, but made no promises and possessed "no detailed plans at present for active co-operation with the British Fleet in war."(40)
Despite this uncertainty, there was some optimism about Hong Kong. A June 1939 war office appreciation, written from Japan's point of view, admitted Japan could neutralize Hong Kong even if it "did not undertake operations for the reduction of the fortress." But while the colony's capture "would add greatly" to Japanese prestige, that victory "might not be worth the expenditure of men and material."(41) And there did appear to be ways to make an attack more costly. France agreed in June to co-ordinate its military efforts with Britain and to emphasize the security of Singapore, Indochina, and Hong Kong.(42) France's resources, however, were limited, but China's were not, and in May 1939 Britain's ambassador to China reported Chiang Kai-Shek had inquired about Hong Kong and had offered 200,000 troops at any time "without question to make such use as best suited us."(43) The Deputy Chiefs of Staff placed a "high value on assistance from Chinese forces," noting a Chinese offensive against the rear and flank of a force besieging Hong Kong "could do much to reduce the scale of attack and ensure prolonged resistance."(44)
But this initiative was forgotten when Germany invaded Poland. Hong Kong's garrison then numbered four infantry battalions, three coastal batteries, two anti-aircraft units, and five artillery batteries. Four destroyers were on station while the R.A.F. had but a handful of aircraft.(45) Little more could be expected despite Grasett's efforts. Sent to Hong Kong in November 1938, and noting four battalions were the bare defensive minimum, Grasett wanted more to hold the mainland along the so-called Gin-Drinkers' Line.(46) Not only were new units not sent when British garrisons in north China were reduced or eliminated in late 1939, but Grasett was confronted with a Port Defence Committee (P.D.C.) proposal to stockpile six months' supplies in Hong Kong because the P.D.C. felt "a much more likely form of relief" for the colony would be the running of provision ships rather than a rescuing armada.(47) Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff Rear Admiral Sir Tom Phillips objected strongly. Having described Hong Kong's Standard C level as "fundamentally wrong and not in accordance with our position as a great maritime Power," and noting Hong Kong was Britain's "most exposed outpost and ought to be properly defended with 15-inch guns and everything else we can put there," Phillips derided the C.I.D. for "a thoroughly defeatist view of the possibility of holding the Hong Kong against the Japanese - and I believe that an adequate British garrison and adequate defences should make that hidebound nation think very hard. And there will always be the fear of the British Fleet coming out to interrupt their siege - they must always depend on seaborne supplies for their forces."(48)
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound carried this view into a 11 January 1940 C.O.S. meeting. Unconvinced that Japanese forces "near Hong Kong would necessarily mean that it would be impossible to hold on to the fortress indefinitely," Pound favoured working up gradually to Standard A and a capability of supporting the main fleet. Unimpressed, Air Marshall R.E.C. Peirse wanted Hong Kong treated as an outpost "and not as a fortress to be held to the last extremity," for he could "not imagine that the main Fleet would ever go to relieve Hong Kong." After much discussion, the Chiefs confirmed Standard C, adding that while it was desirable to extend the period before relief to six months, a final decision could not be made until the implications of that choice were known and Grasett's opinion obtained. Unwilling to let such an opportunity pass, Hong Kong's commander asserted "an increase in the Period before Relief should logically be accompanied by an increase in the garrison to offset the losses incurred during the longer period."(49) Averse to sending more troops, the C.O.S. kept the relief period at ninety days while advocating the stockpiling of 130 days' worth of food and ammunition "where this is possible without affecting our requirements vis-a-vis Germany."(50)
Germany's 1940 blitzkrieg destroyed any remaining British complacency. An emboldened Japan demanded Britain staunch the flow of munitions to China by closing the Burma Road and Hong Kong's frontier.(51) Fearing imminent conflict, the C.O.S. advocated putting Malaya in a state of readiness and asking Australia and India for aid. As for Hong Kong, its garrison should be retained "to fight it out if war comes," but dependents should be evacuated, the services claiming they did "not think that the Japanese would interpret this step as a sign of weakness, rather the reverse." However, as the fleet could not be spared for Singapore, Britain should induce the United States "to declare her vital interest in the status quo in the Far East."(52) The Americans declined to help beyond continuing economic and diplomatic pressure upon Japan, and could not promise the U.S.N. would maintain most of its fleet in the Pacific.(53)
The war cabinet decided to remove civilians from Hong Kong, but Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Viscount Halifax, counselling against shutting the Burma Road, proposed a "constructive offer to Japan which might provide inducement to deter her from an attack on our interests."(54) The Chiefs wanted a settlement too. Advising that to stand fast risked a war Britain was not ready to fight, C.I.G.S. General Sir John Dill thought Japan might be satisfied with the withdrawal of British troops from Shanghai and Hong Kong.(55) This was not what Halifax had in mind, for he doubted the Japanese would assault Singapore as they were cautious by nature and their favourite tactic was "to choose a point at which to push, to withdraw if resistance is offered, but to push on if it is found that opposition is weak or yielding."(56) Halifax did not win. Prime Minister Winston Churchill said Britain, "already fully occupied in a military sense," could not shoulder the burden alone and should not incur "Japanese hostility for reasons mainly of prestige." Consequently the war cabinet accepted a proposal by its Ambassador to Japan (Sir Robert Craigie) to suspend Burma Road traffic for three months beginning on 18 July with the understanding an effort would be made to reach a "just and equitable peace" in Asia. If that failed, Britain would be free to reopen the route.(57) Japan accepted, and yet another crisis was averted.
The C.O.S.'s August Far East appreciation reflected a feeling of crisis. Although the Chiefs believed the Americans would offer "a measure of economic and material support," they thought the situation in other theatres "will not change in our layout, to any marked degree, in the immediate future." That meant no fleet for Singapore, and as no divisions could be spared, Australia should be asked to send one to Malaya with hopes of providing a second later. Hong Kong was a very different story. The service heads recommended withdrawing its garrison if that could be made part of a general Asian settlement for:
Hong Kong is not a vital interest and the garrison could not long withstand Japanese attack. Even if we had a strong fleet in the Far East, it is doubtful whether Hong Kong could be held now that the Japanese are firmly established on the mainland of China; and it could not be used as an advanced naval base.
In the event of war, Hong Kong must be regarded as an outpost and held as long as possible. We should resist the inevitably strong pressure to reinforce Hong Kong and we should certainly be unable to relieve it. Militarily our position in the Far East would be stronger without this unsatisfactory commitment.(58)
This extraordinary document marked the first time the Chiefs had agreed unanimously that Hong Kong was a definite military liability. Perhaps most importantly, many who have written about Hong Kong's subsequent fate have latched on to this appreciation as proof the decision to reinforce the colony was an obvious error which flew in the face of sound military advice. Missing from these accounts is context. In August 1940 Britain's only allies were its Dominions, and its forces were fighting in Africa, the Atlantic, and over Britain itself. In such circumstances, when even Canada and the United States feared Britain's collapse, it should not surprise that British priorities did not include the protection of an outpost even its supporters did not regard as absolutely vital. Yet when the Chiefs had an opportunity to demilitarize Hong Kong, they declined to do so. On 17 September Hong Kong's Governor, G.A.S. Northcote, worried by the prospect of substantial civilian losses, had suggested that demilitarizing Hong Kong "would not make it any less an integral part of the Empire, aggression upon which would constitute a casus belli," nor would it make attack any more likely "for it is inconceivable that in present circumstances the Japanese are being or would be deterred from anti-British measures by the military strength of the colony." Northcote suggested the United States, "following its 'No change in the Pacific' principle, might be inclined to guarantee Hong Kong if it were an open undefended port, than otherwise."(59)
Northcote's submission was reviewed by the Joint Planning Staff (J.P.S.) in mid-October, hardly a propitious time given Japan's 23 September occupation of northern Indochina and its signing of the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy four days later. Furthermore, British, Dutch, and American military representatives had just begun discussing co-operation to stem Japan's expansion. Declaring a disarmed Hong Kong would dishearten China and embolden Japan, the J.P.S. feared it would discourage the Americans from taking a firmer line against Japan. Retaining a garrison also would cause Japan to hesitate before trying to take Hong Kong, and if besieged, "[i]ts gallant defence might be an important factor in bringing [the Americans] into the war." And should America side with Britain, the presence of the U.S.N. in the western Pacific "might increase the chance of preventing the fall of Hong Kong or at any rate harassing the attacking forces." Still, the colony remained on undesirable military commitment, and if a settlement was possible, it would be in Britain's best interest to demilitarize Hong Kong. But at the present time that "was out of the question."(60)
Reinforcement was not on either. Citing a local volunteer shortage, Grasett asked for another infantry battalion in October. India said the troops could be found only at the expense of Middle East shipments, but unwilling to weaken that vital sector, the C.O.S. refused to provide them.(61) Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham's arrival in Singapore in November 1940 provided Grasett with an ally. Appointed to the new post of Commander-in-Chief [C-in-C] Far East, Brooke-Popham was charged "with the operational control and general direction of training of all British land and air forces in Malaya, Burma and Hong Kong and for the co-ordination of plans for the defence of these territories."(62) Brooke-Popham had few illusions about his command's relative importance, having been told the Far East ranked behind home defence, the Atlantic battle, the Middle East, and Russia. Despite this low priority, Singapore was sent in the autumn of 1940 two British battalions, two Indian brigade groups, and was promised an Australian brigade,(63) while a visit to Hong Kong convinced Brooke-Popham more should be done to make it secure too. And while he did not advocate altering the outpost policy and thought Malaya's needs greater, Brooke-Popham could not accept defending Hong Kong with a level of force which was recognized as being "appreciably below" the necessary minimum strength. He wanted two more battalions "as soon as I can judge one or two battalions can be released from Malaya." Also on his wish list were four reconnaissance aircraft, some guns, and men to round out the units already in the colony.(64)
This proposal drew a frosty response from Churchill on 7 January:
This is all wrong. If Japan goes to war with us, there is not the slightest chance of holding Hong Kong or relieving it. Instead of increasing the garrison it ought to be reduced to a symbolical scale. Any trouble arising there must be dealt with at the Peace Conference after the war. We must avoid frittering away our resources on untenable positions. Japan will think long and hard before declaring war on the British Empire, and whether there are two or six battalions at Hong Kong will make no difference to her choice. I wish we had fewer troops there, but to move any would be noticeable and dangerous.(65)
This rejoinder has complex roots. In January 1941 Britain's war was not going well, and sending resources to a theatre where a state of war did not exist (and might not start) doubtless seemed wasteful to Churchill who already had rejected sending aircraft to Singapore because the "political situation in the Far East does not seem to require, and the strength of our Air Force by no means warrants, the maintenance of such large forces in the Far East at this time."(66) Such a diversion made even less sense if the potential enemy was seen as less than formidable. Like many others, Churchill had a view of the Japanese that was at best ethnocentric, and at worst racist. His dismissal of Brooke-Popham's initiative appears to suggest Japan would be presumptuous to challenge Britain, Churchill having described the threat to Singapore in 1940 as "overrated" because the Japanese had been reluctant hitherto to send their navy too far afield and had proved themselves not very formidable opponents in the air.(67) The prime minister was unhappy also with his advisers' inability to discern the grand strategic picture because they were fixated on controlling certain vital locations. By December 1940 conversations with the Americans had foundered on the U.S.N.'s objections to basing ships at Singapore on a semi-permanent basis. Not easily discouraged, the admiralty put its case again in January 1941 only to have the Americans dispute Singapore's strategic value. Making it clear the most important objective was to get the United States into the war, Churchill said force disposal would be determined, not by trying to enter into "hypothetical paper accords" beforehand, but when they were facing reality.(68)
Churchill's comments found receptive ears. Recalling Grasett's failed October 1940 attempt to obtain help, and believing circumstances had not "altered since that date sufficiently to justify an alteration to that decision," Dill recommended raising the relief period to 130 days.(69) The Chiefs agreed. Hong Kong remained an outpost to be held as long as possible, and at "its present strength the garrison might cause the Japanese to hesitate before committing themselves to an attack on the Colony." Adding two more battalions "would be unlikely materially to influence such a decision by the Japanese and could not affect the ultimate result" but it would "increase the loss should the Fortress fall."(70)
Although prepared to accept that ruling, Brooke-Popham, worried he might "not have adequately represented" his views, said only one battalion could be spared to hold the mainland. Certain such a small force could resist only for forty-eight hours before it would have to be evacuated, he thought with four battalions in the Gin Drinkers' Line, "the period of resistance would in all probability be multiplied by 6" as two more battalions would give Grasett options such as the creation of a small reserve, casualty replacement, and the ability to rotate units. Brooke-Popham thought even a small reinforcement might influence the Japanese, citing as an example the recent despatch of one company "to Sarawak which gave rise to a report that Borneo was being garrisoned by several thousand soldiers." Disputing too the contention circumstances had not changed, "[t]o us out here," Brooke-Popham said, "it seems no longer a question of reducing our losses in Hong Kong but of ensuring the security of places that will be of great value in taking offensive action at a later stage of war."(71) This appeal failed. Although appreciating the force of Brooke-Popham's argument, reluctantly the C.O.S. concluded "we must adhere to our decision that Hong Kong must not (repeat not) be reinforced in present circumstances," although it offered to reconsider "[s]hould present discussions in Washington or any major change in situation alter our estimate of the position."(72)
Not until Grasett's September 1941 briefing did the C.O.S. consider adding to Hong Kong's garrison. Relieved of command in July 1941, Grasett returned via his native Canada. Stopping in Ottawa in August, he sought out a former military college classmate, Lieutenant-General H.D.G. Crerar, Canada's Chief of the General Staff (C.G.S.). Unfortunately there are no formal minutes and we must rely therefore on Crerar's too brief version of events recalled after the fact. According to Crerar, over the course of "long discussions" including one with defence minister J.L. Ralston, Grasett outlined Hong Kong's situation and declared the "addition of two or more battalions to the forces them at Hong Kong would render the garrison strong enough to withstand for an extensive period of siege an attack by such forces as the Japanese could bring to bear against it." Yet the C.G.S. maintained adamantly that "neither to myself alone, nor to the Minister and myself jointly, did Grasett then raise the question of obtaining these two additional battalions from Canada."(73)
However, Grasett's London suggestion that Canada might be willing to send troops raises questions concerning Crerar's veracity. Perhaps Grasett did not ask explicitly for assistance, hoping to induce an offer. The C.G.S. might have said he would recommend despatching soldiers if and when a formal request was forthcoming from higher authorities in London. It is also possible Crerar may have complained about the inactivity of Canadian forces in Britain, prompting Grasett to conclude Canada might be receptive to a proposal for aid. We simply do not know what was said, but it would have been strange indeed for the two generals to have discussed Hong Kong's military plight at some length without any suggestion that Canada might do something to remedy that situation.(74)
Whatever was said in Ottawa, once in London Grasett ensured the matter moved quickly, contradicting a reputation as "being rather too easy-going."(75) His case apparently made a strong impression. Dill prepared a draft submission on 8 September recommending Canadian units for Hong Kong. A year earlier strengthening Hong Kong would have been tantamount to throwing "good money after bad," but Dill believed the strategic situation had changed greatly since then. Displaying much "greater interest in the Far East," the Americans had reinforced the Philippines, and if Canada was persuaded to buttress Hong Kong, that would be in alignment with American policy and Australia's despatch of soldiers to Malaya. Dill accepted also that Hong Kong's bolstering would have a salutary effect on both China and Japan, adding "[a] small reinforcement of one or two battalions would increase the strength of the garrison out of all proportion to its numbers, and there would be a strong psychological stimulus to the garrison and to the colony." He asserted a besieged Hong Kong might be relieved within four and one-half months' time, while extra troops "might well prolong resistance for a further considerable period." If Churchill agreed, "then Mr. Mackenzie King should be approached with a view to obtaining this reinforcement."(76) Two important changes were made before the document was forwarded to Churchill. The reference to relieving Hong Kong within four and one-half months was dropped after Pound called it "misleading" as was the line arguing resistance would be prolonged by new battalions. Although not enthusiastic, Churchill gave his tentative approval, noting "[i]t is a question of timing. There is no objection to the approach being made as proposed; but a further decision should be taken before the battalions actually sail."(77)
Next was ascertaining whether Canada would agree. The official request, sent on 19 September by the dominions office, stated the "[a]proved policy has been that Hong Kong should be regarded as an out-post and held as long as possible in the event of war in the Far East" and admitted it had been "thought hitherto that it would not ultimately serve any useful purpose to increase the garrison." But in the wake of improvements in Malaya and the Philippines and "signs of a certain weakening in Japan's attitude towards us and the United States," one or two battalions "would increase the strength of the garrison out of all proportion to the actual numbers involved and would provide a strong stimulus to the garrison and to the 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 the reality of our intention to hold the island."(78) If this was agreeable, Britain promised to communicate with Ottawa "again as to the best time for . . . despatch having regard for the general political situation in the Far East."(79) A favourable answer was not long in coming. Crerar decided there was "no military risk in despatching C[an]d[ia]n B[attalio]ns for this purpose" and advised two battalions could be found.(80) Ralston gave his approval with the proviso the troops had to come from within Canada and not Britain. The dominions office was told on 24 September Canada agreed "in principle" to send two battalions to strengthen Hong Kong, a decision confirmed by the Canadian Cabinet War Committee (C.W.C.) on 2 October.(81)
Upon receiving Canada's acceptance, Churchill approved "unless [the] Foreign Secretary demurs." He did not, and the war office and dominions office subsequently were instructed "to make the necessary arrangements for the reinforcement of Hong Kong by the two Canadian Battalions."(82) Having cleared these hurdles, the dominions office asked on 9 October for the despatch of the Canadians "at a very early date," followed two days later by a request for a brigade headquarters. Canada agreed that same day.(83) The brigade left Vancouver on 27 October and arrived in Hong Kong on 16 November. Three weeks later a Japanese division attacked the colony.
In his memoirs Churchill offered a most cursory and unsatisfactory explanation for his change of heart, stating simply "I allowed myseff to be drawn from this position [his 7 January 1941 statement] later on."(84) Although not particularly illuminating except perhaps in casting light on its author's intent to deflect responsibility, this statement compelled official Canadian army historian C.P. Stacey to afford his opinion: "[t]his would seem to have been one of those cases where second thoughts are not best [emphasis in original]."(85) Perhaps so, but Churchill's self-defence did a disservice by obscuring the process that led to Canada being asked to provide troops, a process that was not a momentary aberration which overturned prevailing wisdom but the result of a logical if unhappy chain of events.
In the first case, Canada's inclusion was neither illogical nor a bolt out of the blue. Despite growing autonomy, Canada remained a vital part of the British Commonwealth constitutionally and psychologically. This connection was even more intimate for most Canadian soldiers as their training and doctrine followed British patterns, and the most promising among them were schooled in British staff colleges, helping to build an Anglo-Canadian military alliance that "held its vitality through shared allegiances, shared ideals, customs, and institutions, a shared sense of community in a British world."(86) The strength of this alliance was demonstrated quite early in the conflict. The first Canadian troops landed in Britain in the autumn 1939 and Ottawa indicated its willingness to support its ally whenever possible, a disposition that did not go untapped. In 1940, as German tanks rumbled through Europe, Canadian forces, responding to a British recommendation that the maintenance of "our positions in our overseas possessions" might "be taken over by the Dominions,"(87) replaced British units in Iceland, Newfoundland, Jamaica, and Bermuda. Britain's Pacific interests were not excluded either. In September 1940 Prime Minister W.L.M. King told Japan's minister to Canada, when asked if Canada would intervene in troubles (a Japanese attack) in Malaya or India, that Canadians "were prepared to fight in any quarter of the globe where the British Empire was threatened."(88)
Canadian diplomacy reinforced the assumption the Dominion could be depended upon to support Britain against Japan. In 1940 Canada had agreed to restrict the sale of key products to Japan, and implemented this policy so stringently that a department of external affairs official had advised Canada should slow down as it had "already gone farther than the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia in restricting exports of war materials to Japan."(89) That did not occur. Public opinion in Canada was "strongly opposed to the export of anything to Japan which could remotely or indirectly be useful for military purposes,"(90) but King also wanted to avoid a breakdown in Anglo-American relations over Japan that might endanger the Dominion's security, and therefore chose to match "action so far as possible with what the United States proposes to take."(91) So when asked in August 1941 by Britain to support an American warning to Japan that further aggression would have serious consequences, the C.W.C. agreed to do so.(92)
Any remaining doubts about Canadian willingness to match diplomatic deeds with military action evaporated when King arrived in Britain in late August 1941. Over the preceding months King's government had attracted considerable criticism for the Canadian army's static role in Britain, including allegations of military incompetence and training deficiencies.(93) Particularly upset, Crerar believed the criticism was politically motivated and feared it could shake army and public morale and destroy recruiting efforts.(94) There seemed to be only one solution; sending Canadians into action. Not even in England could King escape this controversy. As the prime minister inspected his nation's forces and consulted with British officials, Ralston cabled to remind him "that on four occasions at least Canadian troops have instantly responded to calls of action and on each occasion have been robbed of opportunity because plans [were] changed by [the] High Command."(95) King did his duty, asking Churchill whether there was more Canada could do. At that time the British leader had no suggestions;(96) within three weeks, however, the invitation to buttress Hong Kong arrived in Ottawa.
Contrary to Creighton's accusation, the 19 September message was a request, not an order. A negative response certainly had been an option, albeit a difficult one given King's comments about doing more. But Canadian offtcials did not want to say no. In his testimony to the 1942 Canadian royal commission studying the Hong Kong debacle, Ralston revealed he had accepted Britain's judgement that Hong Kong's strengthening could have substantial strategic benefits. Just as importantly, as Australian, New Zealand, and South African forces already had seen action, to him "it seemed as if it was Canada's turn to help."(97)
Neither were the Canadians operating under assumptions the venture was risk free. Vincent has pointed out the dominion office telegram remarked that British policy "has been" to see that place as an outpost, a phrasing which he said deliberately implied the official view of Hong Kong's defensibility had been altered when nothing of the sort had occurred.(98) This conclusion that busy and sincere Canadians had been tricked is dubious. Admittedly the British were not entirely forthcoming in providing information, but to suggest they had set out to consciously deceive Canada is quite another matter. While Canada's decision-makers were not cognizant of all of the twists and turns that had characterized the Hong Kong debate, they knew enough to conclude the troop despatch involved risk and that the outpost policy remained intact. Canada's press release concerning "C" Force described the colony as an outpost while Ralston wrote in his notes that the first consideration influencing his decision was his belief "Hong Kong was an outpost to be held as long as possible."(99) King possessed the pessimistic August 1940 C.O.S. appreciation which had assigned Hong Kong its outpost status, while the Canadian army had learned in late 1940 that Britain had "for years . . . contemplated the possible loss of Hong Kong."(100) But in September 1941 Crerar ruled there was little risk involved, an opinion that carried considerable weight given his participation in the 1934 I.D.C. exercise. Thus assured the hazards were reasonable, the C.W.C. found it impossible to turn down Britain's request, especially as "[t]here was nothing new in the problem except . . . the area or areas in which Canadian troops had not served before."(101) One might argue that had Canada possessed an independent intelligence gathering apparatus, the despatch of "C" Force might have been avoided. However, it did not, and Canada was not inclined in late 1941 to do anything but help in the effort against Japan.
Canada's willingness was an important consideration behind Hong Kong's reinforcement. Badly pressed by a global conflict's demands, the British cannot be faulted for seeking help. Still, new manpower was not cause enough to buttress the colony. Rather, the key reason behind seeking aid stemmed from a honestly held but absolutely mistaken belief that the strategic situation had changed in Britain's favour, an alteration brought about by a stronger American stance against Japan. Initially though, American support could not be counted upon. The United States remained comparatively weak, compelling the U.S.N. to recommend in October 1940 that in the event of a war with both Germany and Japan, the primary effort should be made against Germany while American forces remained on the defensive in the Pacific. Roosevelt approved this scheme (Plan Dog) in mid-January 1941 with the comment "I simply have not got enough Navy to go around - and every little episode in the Pacific means fewer ships in the Atlantic."(102)
This reluctance to support Britain was evident when the American-British-Canadian (A.B.C.) staff talks began in late January 1941. Consistently refusing to station ships at Singapore, the U.S.N. said it probably would assume full responsibility for the defence of the Pacific east of 180 [degrees] longitude, supplement imperial forces near Australia, and send forces to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean so that the Royal Navy could shift ships to Singapore.(103) The British had reason to be optimistic though, for hardliners such as Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox favoured aggressive responses to Japanese acts. Facing them were service commanders and Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the latter advocating a "cautious policy of strong words and discreet force to deter Japan from any further expansion."(104) As he so often did, President Franklin Roosevelt sat somewhere in the middle. Reluctant to make "hard and fast plans" that might interfere with flexibility, Roosevelt had admitted in December 1940 he might defend Britain's Pacific possessions, and at the same time Plan Dog was approved, he authorized the U.S.N.'s Asiatic Squadron to move itself either home or to Singapore if forced to withdraw from Manila.(105) On 8 February Roosevelt told Lord Halifax that he would warn the Japanese a southward advance might lead to war with the United States, but cautioned his country might not favour a war if the Japanese attacked only Dutch and British possessions.(106)
Encouraged by Roosevelt's attitude, and worried his military might alienate the Americans by continuing to insist upon a Singapore commitment, Churchill reminded his advisers "[o]ur object is to get the Americans into the war, and the proper strategic dispositions will soon emerge when they are up against reality, and not trying to enter into hypothetical paper accords beforehand."(107) Suitably instructed, Britain's representatives reached an agreement about strategy once the United States had entered the war. Germany's defeat would rank first while a defensive posture in the Pacific would be maintained. The U.S.N. would not be augmented in the Pacific, but would operate "offensively in the manner best calculated to weaken Japanese economic power, and to support the defense of the Malay barrier by diverting Japanese strength away from Malaysia." And rather than basing vessels at Singapore, the U.S.N. would add to its Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets so "that the British Commonwealth will be in a position to release the forces for the Far East."(108)
Although the defensive net established by the A.B.C.-1 pact "remained extremely loose,"(109) the British did not believe America would stand idly by if Japan attacked. In late April Churchill, while minimizing the possibility of a Japanese assault, thought it "almost certain that the entry of Japan into the war would be followed by the immediate entry of the United States on our side."(110) Getting Roosevelt to make a firm commitment to come to Britain's aid, however, proved difficult. In mid-August the American and British leaders met at Argentia, Newfoundland. Japanese-American negotiations, initiated in April, had stalled and Japan's July 1941 occupation of southern Indochina had led to further American sanctions. Concerned Japan might retaliate against Britain, Churchill wanted a promise that if there was a Japanese assault against a third party (Britain), the President would ask congress for the authority to declare war.(111) Roosevelt would not give such a pledge, offering instead to guarantee Siamese and Indochinese neutrality while negotiations continued, and to warn that any additional moves "by Japan would produce a situation in which [the] U.S. Government would be compelled to take certain measures even though this might lead to war between [the] U.S. and Japan."(112)
Even if Roosevelt's proposals were not what Churchill had hoped for, the British were heartened by efforts to strengthen the Philippines. Reversing a longstanding policy that those islands were indefensible and should be abandoned in wartime, the United States decided in late July to reinforce the archipelago. American and Filipino forces were combined under one operational command, Major-General Douglas MacArthur was appointed to head the army in the Far East, and new equipment, including nine B-17 bombers, was scheduled for delivery to the Philippines. Once complete, army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall felt those steps would constitute a serious menace to Japan's southward advance, and he told Dill the bombers in particular "might prove a serious deterrent to the Japanese."(113)
Marshall's views concerning the deterrent value of even a small show of force confirmed a British judgement Japan could be dissuaded with minimal effort as long as the threat of American intervention loomed. Recalling Halifax's statement that the Japanese were cautious by nature and tended to push matters only when resistance was not offered, the Joint Intelligence SubCommittee had said in May 1941 Japan was "wary of provoking premature hostilities" and "cautious and sensitive to the reactions of Britain and the Dominions."(114) A foreign office assessment was also optimistic. British strength in Malaya was no longer negligible and there was "some hope that if the Japanese do not attack within the next two months and our programme of reinforcement continues according to plan, they may hesitate to attack at all."(115) Military analysts in Hong Kong discounted too the severity of the Japanese threat in mid-1941; southward expansion could not be discounted, but it was "difficult to see how this can be seriously initiated on a large scale unless they [the Japanese] can liquidate some of their extensive commitments in China."(116)
This belief that Japan's options were severely constrained grew in September 1941. Roosevelt's hard line against Japan plus Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, Japan's traditional foe, seemed to lessen substantially the danger to Britain. Hong Kong's intelligence branch, reporting on 1 September, argued that given perilous economic conditions and the ongoing conflict with China, opting for war would be a desperate gambit for the Japanese. Therefore it would be to Japan's advantage to wait in the hope some favourable development (the Soviet Union's collapse) might "turn up at the last moment to save her from her apparently inextricable dilemma."(117) Churchill fully agreed with this view, informing New Zealand on 2 September Japan would not risk war with Britain, the United States, and Russia. Describing the situation "not only as most favourable, but as less tense," Churchill revealed the admiralty was considering placing capital ships, including some of the most modern units, "in the triangle Aden-Singapore-Simonstown before the end of the year."(118) Grasett's meeting with the C.O.S. on 3 September, and his suggestion Canada might provide troops for Hong Kong, could not have come at a more propitious moment.
The reinforcement of Hong Kong in 1941 was, in the perfect clarity of hindsight, a mistake. The addition of 1,975 soldiers obviously did not deter a Japanese assault, nor did the extra troops make a difference once war began. But it is far too easy to look back at the events of 1941 (and what happened to the British and Canadian survivors in Japanese prison camps) and say the bolstering of Hong Kong was folly and a calamity that could and should have been avoided. Unfortunately, fixating on the consequences of a military defeat, only natural given the human costs involved, does little to illuminate properly the reasons behind the decision to ask Canada to provide "C" Force, for as John Keegan has pointed out, "[a]ll battles are in some degree . . . disasters."(119) Hong Kong was a disaster, but it is hard to see how it could have been avoided. Churchill and his advisers believed the Americans could be counted on against Japan, and they could not accept that Japan would expand further at the risk of war with both Britain and the United States. Nor were the British alone in holding the opinion that even a modest increase in defence resources would restrain Japan. Writing Roosevelt in October 1941, Stimson commented if the Philippines could be strengthened before Japan struck, it would be possible:
to stop Japan's march to the south and secure the safety of Singapore, with all the revolutionary consequences of such action . . . Our whole strategic possibility of the past twenty years has been revolutionized by the events of the world in the past six months. From being impotent to influence events in that area, we suddenly find ourselves vested with the possibility of great effective power.(120)
Japan was not dissuaded and launched a devastating assault upon western interests in Asia and the Pacific. Why did deterrence fail? The primary reason was that British and American decision-makers had seriously misjudged how their carrot and stick approach of negotiations and sanctions would be perceived by an increasingly desperate Japanese leadership. As stockpiles of key materials dwindled and the China conflict dragged on, Japanese officials could not accept an imposed settlement that would deny access to vital resources, force withdrawal from China, and destroy the creation of a self-sustaining autarkic system in which economic well-being and national security were inseparable.(121) Faced with the repugnant alternatives of surrender or risking a war that probably could not be won, Japan opted to fight "because the costs of not going to war were considered even higher [emphasis in original]."(122) Furthermore, because it was not backed up by a strong show of military force, the deterrent policy may have provoked Japan to act before western positions were strengthened.(123)
The foreign office had considered Japan might not be deterred, noting in August 1941 that Japan, worried about the United States' hardening attitude, might accelerate its southern drive and that Britain and the Netherlands might bear the brunt of this expansion.(124) American actions in the wake of Argentia assuaged this concern somewhat, but as late as October 1941, one week after an extremist regime came to power in Japan, Craigie warned against a tendency to underestimate "Japan's strength and desperation." Japan remained convinced of Germany's ultimate victory over the Soviet Union, and in Craigie's opinion was capable of launching simultaneous operations against Siberia and southeast Asia.(125) By the autumn of 1941, however, Craigie's influence was slight. The foreign office believed he was too eager to appease the Japanese, and after Munich and the Burma Road closing, appeasement was no longer on Britain's agenda.(126) Craigie's warning was disregarded because there was no indication of a southward move by Japan in the near future and because the foreign office did not think that Japan would risk American intervention.(127)
But if the worst did occur, there was significant doubt about the damage Japan might be able to inflict. Despite Britain's weakness in Asia, Churchill did not believe Japan had the economic wherewithal and skill to fight and win a protracted war, especially if it had to confront the combined forces of the empire and the United States. Some British service people, particularly those familiar with Japan, rated that nation's military as highly capable and dangerous. But others, influenced by racist and ethnocentric views about Asian physical and intellectual inferiority and Japan's inability to subdue China, thought Britain was "worthy of some better enemy than the Japanese."(128) All notions of Japan's ineptitude were destroyed by the stunning successes achieved by its military in the weeks that followed the opening of hostilities. Singapore fell on 15 February 1942 while American resistance in the Philippines collapsed in May. Hong Kong's garrison surrendered to one Japanese division after only seventeen days of fighting, dispelling Grasett's assertion a reinforced Hong Kong would be a tough nut to crack. Also obliterated were the illusions that had guided British defence policy in Asia. Japan could not be restrained by a few strong words and the despatch of a few troops, ships, and aircraft when its vital interests were at stake. Neither Churchill nor Roosevelt seemed to have understood that. Guided by their preconceptions and misconceptions, they gambled, some might say recklessly, and attempted to deter Japan with minimal effort so as to avoid a war neither of their countries were yet ready to fight. As one Canadian historian has pointed out, that "attempt failed but the motives of the men who made that decision were not dishonourable."(129) The men sent to Hong Kong were a small part of the much bigger effort to head off a war with Japan, and their hellish incarceration in Japanese prison camps involved much more suffering than stains on their honour. They were the big losers in this high stakes wager, but their sacrifice was not futile. Had the gamble worked, a war with Japan might have been postponed until the West was in a better position to fight it or avoided entirely. Unfortunately discussions about what might have been do little to comfort those who fought at Hong Kong or those whose loved ones never returned from that isolated outpost.
Department of National Defence Ottawa
1 Public Record Office [hereafter P.R.O.], Chiefs of Staff Committee [COS] Records, Minutes of Meetings, CAB 79/14, COS (41)/308th meeting, 3 Sept. 1941.
2 George F.G. Stanley, Canada's Soldiers: The Military History of an Unmilitary People (Toronto, 1974), pp. 380-81.
3 B.H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War (London, 1970), p. 219.
4 Carl Vincent, No Reason Why: The Canadian Hong Kong Tragedy - An Examination (Stittsville, 1981), pp. 36-37 and 30; and Donald Creighton, The Forked Road: Canada 1939-1957 (Toronto, 1976), p. 61.
5 N.R. Bennett, "The Naval Pivot of Asia: An Examination of the Place of Hong Kong in Britain's Far Eastern Strategy, 1900-1914," Journal of Oriental Studies 7 (January, 1969), p. 73.
6 P.R.O., Committee of Imperial Defence [CID] Records, Colonial Defence Memoranda, CAB 5/3, paper 96-C, "Hong Kong, Strength of Infantry Garrison," 23 Nov. 1912; and P.R.O., CID, Minutes, CAB 2/3, CID/121st meeting, 7 Jan. 1913.
7 Malcolm H. Murfett, "Living in the Past: A Critical Re-examination of the Singapore Naval Strategy, 1918-1941," War & Society 11 (May, 1993), p. 76; and James Neidpath, Singapore Naval Base and the Defence of Britain's Eastern Empire, 1919-1941 (Oxford, 1981), p. 12.
8 Ian Hamill, "Winston Churchill and the Singapore Naval Base, 1924-1929," Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 11 (Sept. 1980), p. 278; and P.R.O., CAB 2/4, CID/193rd meeting, 5 Jan. 1925.
9 P.R.O., CAB 53/12, COS 41, "A Review of Imperial Defence, 1926," 22 June 1926.
10 P.R.O., CAB 53/14, COS 117, "Defence of Hong Kong," Joint Planning Sub-Committee [JPSC] report, 10 Dec. 1927.
11 P.R.O., CAB 53/21, COS 233 (JP), "Defence of Hong Kong," JPSC report, 31 May 1930.
12 Christopher Thorne, Allies of A Kind: The United States, Britain and the War Against Japan, 1941-1945 (London, 1978), p. 29; and P.R.O., C.I.D., Miscellaneous Memoranda, CAB 4/21, paper 1084-B, "The Situation in the Far East," C.O.S. report, 3 Mar. 1932.
13 P.R.O., CAB 53/4, COS/107th meeting, 28 Feb. 1933.
14 P.R.O., CAB 4/22, paper 1113-B, "Imperial Defence Policy," COS Annual Review (1933), 12 Oct.1933.
15 P.R.O., Report, Proceedings and Memoranda of the Defence Requirements Sub-Committee of the C.I.D., CAB 16/109, DRC/3rd meeting, 4 Dec. 1933.
16 Ibid., DRC 14, "Defence Requirements Sub-Committee Report," 28 Feb. 1934.
17 Corelli Barnett, The Collapse of British Power (London, 1972), pp. 347-49.
18 P.R.O., War Office Records, WO 106/5136, "Imperial Defence College Exercise No: 3 (1934)," 1934.
19 Ibid., memorandum, Colonel Hutton to MO1, 16 Apr. 1934. A naval staff memorandum also warned that if Hong Kong defences were improved once the Washington Treaty lapsed, "it might create a state of tension, even if it did not precipitate attack by Japan;" P.R.O., CAB 53/24, COS 359, "Memorandum by the Naval Staff," 21 Nov. 1934.
20 P.R.O., WO 106/5136, memorandum, Colonel Wachey to Hutton, 19 Apr. 1934.
21 P.R.O., CAB 53/5, cos/132nd meeting, 24 July 1934; and P.R.O., CAB 53/24, COS 347, "Strategic Position in the Far East With Particular Reference to Hong Kong and Air Requirements for the Far East," 29 Oct. 1934.
22 P.R.O., CAB 2/6, CID/266th meeting, 22 Nov. 1934.
23 P.R.O., CAB 53/25, COS 403, "The Strategic Situation in the Far East With Particular Reference to Hong Kong," memorandum by Montgomery-Massingberd, 16 Sept. 1935; Ibid., COS 405, "Strategical Situation in the Far East, With Particular Reference to Hong Kong," 10 Oct. 1935; P.R.O., CAB 2/6, CID/273rd meeting, 30 Jan. 1936; and Ibid., CID/280th meeting, 10 July 1936.
24 P.R.O., CAB 53/31, COS 590, "Far East Appreciation, 1937," 28 May 1937.
25 P.R.O., CAB 53/31, COS 579 (JP), "Far East Appreciation, 1937, prepared by the Joint Planning Sub-Committee," 7 May 1937.
26 Wm. Roger Louis, British Strategy in the Far East 1919-1939 (Oxford, 1971), pp. 239 and 24849; Bradford E. Lee, Britain and the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1939: A Study in the Dilemmas of British Decline (Stanford, 1973), p. 16; and F.F. Liu, A Military History of Modern China, 1924-1949 (Princeton, 1956), p. 156.
27 P.R.O., WO 106/2365, "Report on the 'Unrestricted' Defence of Hong Kong Consequent on the Lapse of Article XIX of the Washington Treaty," by Bartholomew, 20 Aug. 1937.
28 P.R.O., CAB 53/35, COS 657, "Defence of Hong Kong," 21 Dec. 1937.
29 Brian Bond, ed., Chief of Staff: The Diaries of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Pownall. Volume One. 1933-1940 (London, 1973), entry for 2 Feb. 1938, p. 130; and P.R.O., CAB 53/38, COS 710, "Australian Co-operation in Imperial Defence," 27 Apr. 1938.
30 P.R.O., CAB 53/9, COS/234th meeting, 4 Apr. 1938.
31 P.R.O., CAB 53/38, COS 725, "The Policy for the Defence of Hong Kong," memorandum by Gort, 16 May 1938; and P.R.O., CAB 53/39, COS 731, "The Policy for the Defence of Hong Kong," memorandum by Newall, 26 May 1938.
32 P.R.O., CAB 53/9, COS/240th meeting, 13 June 1938. Standard A was defined as efforts "required to protect the harbour, with its facilities, so that it might be used by the Main Fleet as a base on its arrival," Standard B as "[t]hat required to give sufficient protection to the harbour, with the necessary facilities, to enable it to be used as a base for submarines and small craft;" P.R.O., CAB 53/39, JDC 371, "Hong Kong-Refortification," 2 Mar. 1938.
33 P.R.O., CAB 53/39, COS 740, "The Policy for the Defence of Hong Kong," 15 July 1938.
34 P.R.O., CAB 2/7, CID/329th meeting, 19 July 1938.
35 S. Woodburn Kirby, The War Against Japan. Volume I: The Loss of Singapore (London, 1957), p. 19.
36 P.R.O., CAB 53/45, COS 843, "European Appreciation, 1939-40," Feb. 1939.
37 Ibid., COS 848 (JP), "Malaya - Period Before Relief," JPSC note, 27 Feb. 1939; and P.R.O., CAB 2/8, CID/355th meeting, 2 May 1939.
38 P.R.O., CAB 53/11, COS/300th meeting, 16 June 1939; and P.R.O., Cabinet Minutes to 1939, CAB 23/100, Cabinet minutes, 21 June 1939.
39 Peter Lowe, Great Britain and the Origins of the Pacific War: A Study of British Policy in East Asia, 1937-1941 (Oxford, 1977), p. 1.
40 P.R.O., WO 106/5136, "Note for J.P.C. Appreciation on the Situation Which Would Arise in the Event of a European War in April, 1939," M.I.2, 31 Oct. 1938; and P.R.O., Foreign Office Records, FO 371/23561, memorandum, Commander T.C. Hampton, Royal Navy, to the Director of Plans Admiralty, 27 June 1939.
41 P.R.O., WO 106/5136, "Appreciation of the Military Possibilities (from the Point of View of Japan) Arising from Great Britain's Preoccupation in Europe as of 1st September, 1939, and During the Ensuing Year," M.1.2, 28 June 1939.
42 John Laffen, "French Far Eastern Policy in the 1930s," Modern Asian Studies, 23 (1984), p. 145.
43 P.R.O, CID, Deputy Chiefs of Staff Sub-Committee (DCOC), CAB 54/11, DCOS 169, telegram No. 30 TOUR, Sir A. Clark Kerr to the Foreign Office, 4 May 1939, Annex I to "Assistance from China in the Event of War in the Far East," 15 Aug. 1939.
44 Ibid., DCOC 185, "Assistance from China in the Event of War in the Far East," 18 Aug. 1939.
45 Kirby, pp. 21-22.
46 P.R.O, WO 106/2409, "Report on Defence Requirements for Hong Kong, 1939," by Grasett, 1 May 1939.
47 P.R.O., War Cabinet Papers, Chiefs of Staff Committee Memoranda, CAB 80/6, COS (39) 176, "Hong Kong - Period Before Relief," PDC memorandum, 28 Dec. 1939.
48 P.R.O., Admiralty Papers, ADM 116/4271, minutes by Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, 3 and 8 Jan. 1940.
49 P.R.O., CAB 79/3, COS (40) 6th meeting, 11 Jan. 1940; and P.R.O., COS, Port Defence Sub-Committee, CAB 81/1, "Hong Kong: Period Before Relief," C.I.G.S. memorandum, 17 Feb. 1940, Annex I to PDC (40) 23, "Hong Kong: Period Before Relief," 23 Feb. 1940.
50 P.R.O., CAB 79/3, COS (40)/38th meeting, 23 Feb. 1940.
51 P.R.O., FO 371/24725, telegram No. 1032, Sir R. Craigie to the Foreign Office, 19 June 1940.
52 P.R.O., War Cabinet Papers, Memoranda, CAB 66/9, WP (40) 222, "Immediate Measures Required in the Far East," COS report, 25 June 1940.
53 P.R.O., FO 371/24725, telegram No. 1163, Lothian to the Foreign Office, 28 June 1940.
54 P.R.O., War Cabinet Papers, Minutes, CAB 65/7, WM (40) 183rd Conclusions, 28 June 1940; and P.R.O., 371/24725, "Policy in the Far East," memorandum by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Viscount Halifax, 29 June 1940.
55 P.R.O., CAB 66/9, WP (40) 249, "Policy in the Far East," report by the COS, 4 July 1940; and P.R.O., CAB 79/5, COS (40)/202nd meeting, 1 July 1940.
56 P.R.O., CAB 65/8, WM (40) 194th conclusions, 5 July 1940; and P.R.O., CAB 66/9, WP (40) 263, "Policy in the Far East," memorandum by Halifax, 9 July 1940.
57 P.R.O., CAB 65/8, WM (40) 194th conclusions, 5 July 1940; and Ibid., WM (40) 199th conclusions, 10 July 1940.
58 P.R.O., CAB 80/15, COS (40) 592 (Revise), "The Situation in the Far East in the Event of Japanese Intervention Against Us," 15 Aug. 1940.
59 P.R.O., CAB 80/20, COS (40) 834 (JP), "Considerations Regarding the Defensibility of Hong Kong," notes by Sir Geoffrey Northcote, 17 Sept. 1940, attached to "Defence of Hong Kong," JPS note, 15 Oct. 1940.
60 Ibid., "Defence of Hong Kong," JPS note, 15 Oct. 1940.
61 P.P.O., CAB 79/7, COS (40)/365th meeting, 29 Oct. 1940.
62 P.R.O., CAB 80/20, COS (40) 839 (Revise), "Directive to Commander-in-Chief, Far East," 22 Oct. 1940.
63 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, "Operations in the Far East from 17th October 1940 to 27th December 1941," Supplement to the London Gazette, 22 Jan. 1948, 536; Kirby, p. 47; and P.R.O., CAB 80/24, COS (40) 1083, telegram No. 627, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 2 Dec. 1940.
64 Directorate of History, Department of National Defence [hereafter D.Hist.], file 593.013 (D4), telegram GHQFE 135 6/1, C-in-C Far East to Air Ministry, 6 Jan. 1941.
65 P.R.O., WO 106/2409, note, Churchill to Major-General H.L. Ismay, 7 Jan. 1941.
66 P.R.O., CAB 79/8, JP (41) 56, note by Churchill to Ismay, 13 Jan. 1941, Annex I to "Allocation of PBY Outpost and Reinforcements for the Far Eastern Air Forces," JPS report, 22 Jan. 1941.
67 See John Ferris, "'Worthy of Some Better Enemy'? The British Estimate of the Imperial Japanese Army 1919-41, and the Fall of Singapore," Canadian Journal of History 28 (August 1993), pp. 224-56; and P.R.O., CAB 79/6, COS (40)/317th meeting, 19 Sept. 1940.
68 Paul Haggle, Britannia at Bay: The Defence of the British Empire Against Japan 1931-1941 (Oxford, 1981), pp. 188-89; and P.R.O., ADM 199/1932, minutes by Churchill, 12 and 17 Feb. 1942.
69 P.R.O., CAB 79/8, COS (41) 13th meeting, 8 Jan. 1941; and D.Hist., file 595.013 (D4), "Defence of Hong Kong," CIGS memorandum, 10 Jan. 1941.
70 D.Hist., file 595.013 (D4), telegram X444 14/1, C.O.S. to C-in-C Far East, 14 Jan. 1941.
71 D.Hist., file 595.013 (D21), telegram GHQFE 222 18/1, Brooke-Popham to Air Ministry, 18 Jan. 1941.
72 P.R.O., CAB 79/8, COS (41) 28th meeting, Annex II, telegram X 230 25/1, C.O.S. to Brooke-Popham, 25 Jan. 1941.
73 National Archives of Canada [hereafter N.A.C.], Royal Commission on Hong Kong Records, RG 33/120, vol. 3, Crerar's Testimony, telegram 1000, Crerar to W.K. Campbell, 11 Apr. 1942; and NAC, H.D.G. Crerar Papers, MG 30 E157, vol. 21, file 958C.009 (D329), letter, Crerar to Colonel C.P. Stacey, 23 Oct. 1953.
74 Paul Dickson, "Crerar and the Decision to Garrison Hong Kong," Canadian Military History, 3 (Spring, 1994), p. 102.
75 Lindsay, p. 6.
76 P.R.O., CAB 80/30, COS (41) 559, draft note by Dill for submission to the Prime Minister, 8 Sept. 1941.
77 P.R.O., CAB 79/14, COS (41) 319th meeting, 10 Sept. 1941; and P.R.O., WO 106/2409, memorandum, Colonel L.C. Hollis to Churchill, 10 Sept. 1941; and Ibid., note scribbled in margin of preceding document by Churchill, 15 Sept. 1941.
78 N.A.C., RG 33/120, vol. 2, file 5, exhibit 1, cypher 162, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to Secretary of State for External Affairs [S.S.E.A.], 19 Sept. 1941.
80 D.Hist., file 593 (D41), "Record of Conversations on Important Subjects," by Colonel R.B. Gibson, 23 Sept. 1941; D.Hist., file 593.009 (D5), memorandum, "Action by D.M.O. and I. In Respect of the Despatch of the Force to Hong Kong," by Gibson, 23 Feb. 1942; and Ibid., memorandum, "Canadian Battalions - Hong Kong," Crerar to Ralston, 24 Sept. 1941.
81 D. Hist., file 111.1009 (D2), memorandum, Brigadier Kenneth Stuart to Crerar, 29 Sept. 1941; D. Hist., file 593.009 (D5), telegram no. 199, S.S.E.A. to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 29 Sept. 1941; and N.A.C., Minutes and Documents of the Cabinet War Committee, RG 2 7c, vol. 6, July-Oct. 1941, minutes of meeting, 2 Oct. 1941.
82 P.R.O., CAB 80/30, COS (41) 598, "Draft Minute for Submission to the Prime Minister by the Chiefs of Staff," 1 Oct. 1941; P.R.O., CAB 79/14, COS (41) 340th meeting, 2 Oct. 1941; and Ibid., COS (41)/345th meeting, 8 Oct. 1941.
83 D. Hist., file 111.13 (D73), telegram no. 176, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the S.S.E.A., 9 Oct. 1941; D. Hist., 593.009 (D5), telegram GS 2152, Canadian Military Headquarters Great Britain to NDHQ, 11 Oct. 1941; and Ibid., telegram GSD 1514, NDHQ to Canadian Military Headquarters Great Britain, 11 Oct. 1941.
84 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: The Grand Alliance (Boston, 1950), p. 177.
85 C.P. Stacey, Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Volume I. Six Years of War: The Army in Canada, Britain, and the Pacific (Ottawa, 1955), p. 439.
86 Norman Hillmer, "Defence and Ideology: The Anglo-Canadian Military 'Alliance' in the 1930s," International Journal 33 (Summer, 1978), p. 612.
87 P.R.O., CAB 66/7, WP (40) 168, "British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality," C.O.S. report, 25 May 1940.
88 J.W. Pickersgill, The Mackenzie King Record, Volume 1:1939-1944 (Toronto, 1960), p. 149.
89 N.A.C., W.L.M. King Papers, Memoranda, MG 26 J4, vol. 385, file F14, memorandum, H.L. Keenleyside to King, 1 Feb. 1941.
90 David M. Murray, ed., Documents in Canadian External Relations, Volume 8, 1939-1941, Part II [hereafter D.C.E.R.], memorandum, "Control of Exports to Japan," N.A. Robertson to King, 23 Apr. 1941.
91 N.A.C., Department of External Affairs Records, RG 25, vol. 776, file 365 pt. 1-3, microfilm reel T-1792, telegram no. 132, S.S.E.A. to Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, 23 July 1941. Canada's attempt to address problems in the Far East while balancing relations with Britain and the United States is ably discussed in Gregory Allan Johnson, "North Pacific Triangle?: The Impact of the Far East on Canada and Its Relations with the United States and Great Britain, 1937-1948," doctoral dissertation, York University, May 1989.
92 N.A.C., RG 2 7c, vol. 6, minutes of meeting, 30 Aug. 1941.
93 See "War Problems Affecting Canada," Toronto Globe and Mail, 21 June to 18 July 1941.
94 N.A.C., MG 30 E157, vol. 19, file 958C.009 (D333), letter, Crerar to Napier Moore, Editor Maclean's Publishing Company, 27 July 1941; and Queen's University Archives, Grant Dexter Papers, 2142, transfer case 2, folder 20, memorandum, "Talk with Maj. Gen. Crerar," by Dexter, 28 July 1941.
95 N.A.C., MG 26 J4, vol. 428, file #2, telegram no. 1367, Ralston to King, 2 Sept. 1941.
96 N.A.C., RG 2 7c, vol. 6, minutes of meeting, 10 SepT. 1941.
97 N.A.C., RG 33/120, vol. 1, testimony of Ralston, 5 Mar. 1942, pp. 312-14.
98 Vincent, p. 30.
99 D. Hist., file 111.13 (D73), telegram no. 1734, S.S.E.A. to the High Commissioner for Canada, London, 7 Nov. 1941; and N.A.C., J.L. Ralston Papers, MG 27 III B11, vol. 70, file Hong Kong Enquiry, "Memorandum Re. Hong Kong" by Ralston, 28 Feb. 1942.
100 N.A.C., MG 26 J4, vol. 407, file 102, letter, Office of the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to King, plus attached C.O.S. appreciation, 13 Aug. 1940; and N.A.C., Department of National Defencc Records, RG 24, vol. 2727, file HQS 5199-W-3, telegram no. 1989, Major-General Maurice Pope to Acting Chief of the General Staff, 29 Nov. 1940.
101 N.A.C., RG 33/120, vol. 1, testimony by Angus Macdonald, 5 Mar. 1942, pp. 304-06.
102 Harold L. Ickes, The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes: The Lowering Clouds (New York, 1953), p. 567.
103 James R. Leutze, Bargaining for Supremacy: Anglo-American Naval Collaboration, 1937-1941 (Chapel Hill, 1977), pp. 221-43; and W. David McIntyre, The Rise and Fall of the Singapore Naval Base, 1919-1942 (London, 1979), pp. 178-79.
104 Jonathan G. Utley, Going to War With Japan 1937-1941 (Knoxville, 1985), p. 102.
105 Robert Dallek, Franklin Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (New York, 1979), p. 271; and Utley, p. 116.
106 P.R.O., FO 371/27887, telegram, Halifax to the Four Dominion High Commissioners, 14 Feb. 1941.
107 P.R.O., ADM 116/4877, minute by Churchill, 17 Feb. 1941.
108 P.R.O. CAB 122/1582, ABC-1, report," United States-British Staff Conversations," 27 Mar. 1941.
109 McIntyre, p. 182.
110 P.R.O., Prime Ministers' Office Papers, PREM 3/156/6, directive issued by Churchill, 28 Apr. 1941.
111 Utley, p. 158.
112 Ibid., PREM 3/485/5, "Record of conversations between the Prime Minister and the President, August 11, 1941."
113 Ibid., C.O.S. (R) 9, Annex I, "Informal discussion between General Marshall, General Sir John Dill and Brigadier Dykes in U.S.S. 'Augusta' on 11th August, 1941," 13 Aug. 1941.
114 P.R.O., CAB 79/11, JIC (41) 75 Revise, "Future Strategy of Japan," 1 May 1941.
115 P.R.O., CAB 80/28, COS 41 (303), copy of minute by M.E. Dening, Far Eastern Department, Foreign Office, 21 Apt. 1941.
116 D.Hist., file 593.023 (D1), "Hong Kong Naval, Military and Air Force Intelligence Report," No. 5/41, 1 Sept. 1941.
117 D.Hist., file 593.023 (D1), "Hong Kong Combined Situation Report," HKIR 8/41, 1 Sept. 1941.
118 P.R.O., CAB 66/18, WP (41) 212, telegram no. 340, Churchill to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, 2 Sept. 1941.
119 John Keegan, The Face of Battle (New York, 1979), p. 199.
120 Utley, pp. 163-64.
121 Michael A. Barnhart, "Japan's Economic Security and the Origins of the Pacific War," The Journal of Strategic Studies, 4 (June, 1981), p. 106.
122 Scott D. Sagan, "The Origins of the Pacific War," Journal of Inter-Disciplinary History, 18 (Spring, 1988), p. 920.
123 K. Booth, "Singapore 1942: Some Warning," The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal 102 (July, 1972), p. 194; and H.P. Willmott, Empires in the Balance: Japanese and Allied Pacific Strategies to April 1942 (Annapolis, 1982), p. 107.
124 P.R.O., FO 371/27974, telegram no. 4357, Foreign Office to Halifax, 1 Aug. 1941.
125 P.R.O., FO 371/27884, telegram no. 2079, Craigie to the Foreign Office, 22 Oct. 1941.
126 Peter Lowe, "The Dilemmas of an Ambassador: Sir Robert Craigie in Tokyo, 1937-1941," in Gordon Daniels and Peter Lowe, eds., Proceedings of the British Association for Japanese Studies. Part One: History and International Relations, Volume Two (Sheffield, 1977), pp. 34-56; and S. Olu Agbi, "The Pacific War Controversy in Britain: Sir Robert Craigie Versus the Foreign Office," Modern Asian Studies, 17 (1983), pp. 489-517.
127 P.R.O., FO 371/27971, minute by T.E. Bromley, Far Eastern Department, Foreign Office, 31 Oct. 1941.
128 Ferris, "'Worthy of Some Better Enemy'?," p. 252.
129 Terry Copp, "A Brief to the Veterans Affairs Committee of the Senate of Canada Concerning the CBC Series "'The Valour and the Horror'," June 1992, p. 6.
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|Author:||Perras, Galen Roger|
|Publication:||Canadian Journal of History|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1995|
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