329 Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister, to General Sir Archibald Wavell, Allied Supreme Commander of the A.B.D.A. Area

Cablegram 26 [1] CANBERRA, 12 February 1942

MOST SECRET

General Lavarack [2] has advised Australian Army authorities that it is proposed to dispose one Australian division for defence of centre of Java and the other division is to be located in South Sumatra.

2. You will be aware of the principles governing the control and administration of the A.I.F. which were outlined in cablegram No.

91 of 9th March, 1940 [3], and agreed to by the United Kingdom Government in Dominions Office cablegram No. 85 of 26th March. [4] These are of course equally applicable to the A.I.F. in the A.B.D.A. Area as in the Middle East. The Government desires to emphasise that the concentration of the A.I.F. in one Force under its own commander is a principle of cardinal national importance.

3. It is understood from General Lavarack that operational requirements do not at present permit concentration but the actual decision will be governed by the situation at the time. In the circumstances, the Government raises no objection but desires to reiterate its wish that the A.I.F. should fight together as far as the strategical situation will permit. The Government is, however, not willing that there should be any detachments smaller than a complete division.

4. We would be glad to be kept posted with an up-to-date appreciation of the situation in the A.B.D.A. Area as our consent to the present proposal affecting the A.I.F. is necessarily dependent upon the strategical position resulting from the rapidly changing situation.

CURTIN

1 Repeated to the U.K. Dominions Secretary as no. 117.

2 Commander, 1 Australian Corps.

3 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. III, Document 96.

4 On file AA:A2671, 37/1940.

[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.4383]