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344 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 31 LONDON, 18 February 1942


I send you the following supplementary to Page's P.43 and 44. [1]
The Pacific War Council meeting last night was the first
encouraging indication of co-operative action based on well
thought-out plans for the conduct of the war in the Pacific.

The decisions which had to be taken with regard to the Netherlands
East Indies are unpalatable but in my view realistic and wise. The
acceptance by the Netherlands Government of non-reinforcement of
Java and diversion of the Australian Division was a most
courageous action and showed great statesmanship and is in keeping
with the character and toughness of the Dutch people.

From our point of view the most significant result emerging from
the meeting was the realisation of the importance of Australia as
a base, and we can I believe now confidently rely on the maximum
support it is physically possible to get to us.

With reference to recommendation 7 of the Pacific War Council, in
my view it is essential that we should agree to the 7th Australian
Division going to Burma because-
(a) Its presence there offers the best hope of keeping open the
Burma Road,
(b) The continuance of a flow of supplies and munitions to China
is of paramount importance for the fight against Japan,
(c) Even if the Division's presence did not achieve the objective
of keeping the Burma Road open, the sending of it there will have
tremendous effect on China's morale and will to resist which it is
imperative to maintain if we are to avoid the incalculable
disaster of her throwing up the sponge,
(d) Added to all we have already done, our action, hard pressed as
we are, in sending a division to the vital spot in Burma
strengthens our position in demanding similar action to meet our
(e) It is our reply to agreement by the Dutch to the diversion of
a Division earmarked for the Netherlands East Indies.


1 Documents 341-2.

[AA:A816, 52/302/142]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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