841.248/1201¼: Telegram

The Personal Representative of the President in India ( Johnson ) to the Secretary of State

156. For the President and Acting Secretary. Sir Stafford Cripps tells me that last night the Japanese Navy consisting of three battleships and supporting elements sank all shipping between Madras and Calcutta and in the harbors thereof, estimated at 100,000 tons; that the Japanese Fleet is between the inferior British Fleet and its base, and that in a few hours engagement is certain with British in most critical situation. He adds that in his opinion there will then be nothing left to protect route from Persia to India. Requisition for heavy bombers has been made on our own Air Force, which according to Sir Stafford has replied that men we have here are insufficiently trained to make day time attack on Japanese Fleet. Sir Stafford says “if we had 30 heavy bombers in Ceylon the British Fleet could be saved. Nothing else can save it. The bombers are not available.”

Sir Stafford says there is only one bomber in the Near East which could fly to Tripoli; that heavy bombers in unjustified numbers are being held in England; that his efforts with Churchill to have some of the “surplus” bombers sent to the Far East have been unavailing but he is today strenuously renewing his efforts. Sir Stafford further says we have reached the military crisis here and implores our aid in getting heavy bombers from England to this area without delay.

At request of Cripps and of Nehru, both absolutely on their own initiative, I have been acting as go-between since last Sunday. Sir Stafford indicates this morning as did Nehru yesterday that the fact that they have not already failed has been due to the efforts of your [Page 629] personal representative. After long session with Nehru last night, the fourth of the day, and a conference with Sir Stafford from which I have just returned, I am for the first time hopeful that negotiations will not be a complete washout providing the military situation does not overwhelm us.

Sir Stafford is presenting the final proposals at 10 a.m. today. They are based substantially on proposal (c) in my 145 of April 4, 8 p.m. I have commitments of Nehru and President of Congress not to throw them out completely until after a half day has been reserved for discussion between Nehru and myself.

Further cables follow.