The British Embassy to the Department of State 15

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are giving urgent consideration to the reply which should be returned to the appeal of the Thai Prime Minister, bearing in mind the importance of doing whatever they can to encourage the Thai Government in their present mood of resistance to encroachment by Japan. They have had in mind, as a gesture of encouragement to the Thai Government, to offer to release to them twenty-four 4.5 Howitzers, plus 24,000 rounds of ammunition, and twelve 75 millimetre field guns with 500 rounds each per gun of semi armour-piercing ammunition and high explosive. The value would be approximately £200,000. It is intended, however, that this offer should be made conditional on the acceptance by the Thai Government of a number of military instructors. It is hoped that the Thai Government would agree to at least three officers remaining in the country on a permanent basis.

As regards aircraft, for which the Thai Government are constantly pressing, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are still, unfortunately, unable to release any aircraft from their own resources. It is understood that the United States Government have communicated the view to the Thai Government that the demand for aircraft far exceeds the production and that aircraft will be sent where it is deemed they will be most useful. It is presumed that this applies to Vultee aircraft as well as to other types but it is desired to enquire whether it would not be possible for the United States Government to release a few of these machines for Thailand. It is, of course, appreciated that regard must be paid to the question of supplies for China and Russia. There is a possibility that some light training aircraft might be made available out of Australian production towards the end of this year, and if the Thai Government have need of this type the matter would be taken up with the Commonwealth Government.

There is the further question of the supplies of aviation spirit and lubricating oil for the Thai Air Force. Hitherto facilities have been withheld by the United States and British Governments and supplies [Page 327] have been confined to those required for civilian purposes. In view of the urgency of the Thai Prime Minister’s appeal, it is felt that the time has come to reconsider this question. If Thailand is to be expected to resist Japanese demands generally and, if need be, to defend herself by force of arms, it appears only reasonable to allow her some aviation spirit now. The British Government would propose, however, that this should only be delivered in limited quantities and that care should be taken to ensure that large stocks should not be built up.

It is suggested that a similar concession should be allowed as regards aviation lubricating oil. This is, however, a less urgent question as Thailand received a large consignment in June. British interests are, in any case, less directly concerned as this product has always been supplied by The Standard Vacuum Company. If supplies of this commodity are to be resumed, it is suggested that they should be supplied from United States and not from British sources.

His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are anxious to issue instructions to their Minister at Bangkok as soon as possible, and would appreciate early consideration by the United States Government of the points raised in this memorandum.

  1. Left by the British Minister (Campbell) with the Under Secretary of State (Welles), on October 27.