69 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 179[A] LONDON, 1 November 1942, 8.36 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST CONFIDENTIAL

My telegram 178[A]. [1]

No further information yet obtained as to why telegram from Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the Commander-in-Chief referred to in my telegram No. 173[A] [2] had apparently not reached the Commander-in-Chief when Morshead saw him on October 27th. [3]

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff's telegram was despatched on 23rd October and advised the Commander-in-Chief that no further reinforcements were coming forward for the 9th Division and that the Division was not to be broken up. It did not preclude the Commander-in-Chief from utilising the Division within these limits in the present offensive. Such utilisation was foreshadowed in my telegram No. 171[A] of 20th October [4] and is referred to in paragraph (2) of Winch No. 26. [5] I am, however, not quite clear as to your attitude with regard to the utilisation of the Division and in order to avoid any misunderstanding I set out below the position as I see it.

1. Owing to the situation in the South-Western Pacific and of

Australian manpower, you felt it necessary to require the return of the 9th Division to Australia.

2. This decision you conveyed in your telegram 461 of 17th October to the Dominions Office in which you set out fully the reasons that had led you to take it. [6]

3. When this telegram arrived, the offensive which is now proceeding and in which the 9th Division has been allocated a vital role was on the eve of being launched.

4. The withdrawal of the 9th Division would at this stage have meant the abandonment of the operation.

5. The imminence of this operation I conveyed to you in my telegram No. 171[A] of 20th October, and in your 9684 of 22nd October [7] you stressed that in the use of the Division, the Commander-in-Chief should have regard to the fact that no further reinforcements were being sent.

6. The position now is that the offensive has been launched with initial success, in considerable measure due to the work of the 9th Division.

7. Alexander in his conversation with Morshead has made it clear that the retention of the 9th Division in the operations is essential to their continued success.

8. In view of this and the paramount importance of the present operations in the Middle East I am presuming that you agree to the continued utilisation of the 9th Division until such time as the operational situation permits its withdrawal with a view to its return to Australia and subject to the same conditions as in respect to the original offensive, i.e. that the Commander-in- Chief in using it has regard to the fact that no further reinforcements will be sent from Australia and that the Division must not be broken up.

Please advise urgently whether my interpretation of your attitude is correct.

BRUCE

1 See Document 67, note 5.

2 See Document 64, note 4.

3 See Document 67.

4 Document 63.

5 See Document 66, note 2.

6 Document 62.

7 Document 64.

[AA:A4763]