362 Mr Clement Attlee, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 241 LONDON, 22 February 1942, 3 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

Following from the Prime Minister [1] for the Prime Minister.

(Begins):-

We could not contemplate that you would refuse our request and that of the President of the United States [2] for the diversion of the leading division to save the situation in Burma. We knew that if our ships proceeded on their course to Australia while we were waiting for your formal approval they would either arrive too late at Rangoon or even be without enough fuel to go there at all.

We therefore decided that the convoy should be temporarily diverted to the northward. The convoy is now too far north for some of the ships in it to reach Australia without refuelling.

These physical considerations give a few days for the situation to develop and for you to review the position should you wish to do so. Otherwise the leading Australian Division will be returned to Australia as quickly as possible in accordance with your wishes.

(Ends).

1 Winston Churchill.

2 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

[AA:A816, 52/302/142]