347 Sir Earle Page, Special Representative in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram P47 LONDON, 19 February 1942, 7.48 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET FOR THE PRIME MINISTER HIMSELF ALONE

1. From the time of despatch of your telegram 28 [1] and absence of reference to my later telegram P.462, I feel that the Australian decision has been arrived at before receipt and consideration of my P.46 and Wavell's' appreciation of 16th February. [4]

2. You will have since received in Dominions Office 228 of 19th February [5] the American offer to give an additional American Division for Australia in exchange for one of our Divisions and also Wavell's further appreciation.

3. Accordingly I am holding your telegram secret until receipt of further advice. No instructions to divert its course have been sent to the convoy.

4. I have discussed the American offer with Churchill who will try to expedite arrival of this American Division in Australia if the 7th Australian Division is diverted to Burma. The 6th and 9th Divisions can still go to Australia if so determined by the Australian Government. The 6th Division is in the process of embarkation.

5. In our discussion, Churchill expressed great anxiety of the effect on China of not reinforcing Burma, especially if troops so near the battlefront and only troops that could be available are not allocated at this critical moment. Both he and Roosevelt believe that China is the ultimate key of the whole Asian situation. China has been invited to become a member of the Pacific War Council in London and their reply to that invitation is awaited.

6. As time presses would appreciate clear the line reply.

PAGE

1 Document 345.

2 See Document 342, note 4.

3 Allied Supreme Commander in the A.B.D.A. Area.

4 See Document 342, note 4.

5 Document 346.

[AA:A816, 52/302/142]