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

Cablegram 28 CANBERRA, 19 February 1942

MOST SECRET MOST IMMEDIATE

Your P.45. [1]

After most anxious consideration Government has decided that it
cannot agree to the proposal that 7th A.I.F. Division should be
diverted to Burma. [2]

2. A.I.F. Divisions were to be sent to the vital Netherlands East
Indies sector, to help stop the southern thrust of the enemy. it
has apparently been decided by Wavell [3] that this sector is not
to be reinforced further. To carry out the same objective the
destination to which they should now proceed is obviously
Australia, which is in imminent danger of attack, which is an
essential allied base and which is the nearest area of
concentration south of Netherlands East Indies.

3. Cable just received from Lavarack [4] regarding Wavell's
suggestion of diversion to Burma finishes as follows:-

'Not personally in position to judge Australian home defence
position owing considerable absence. If this reasonably
satisfactory believe Australia's best interests served by course
suggested. This despite natural desire Australian Corps assist
direct defence own homeland if considered necessary.'
Position is that mainly owing our efforts overseas, home defence
position is, in opinion of our Chiefs of General Staff, not
satisfactory. Therefore we cannot approve of the proposed
diversion.

CURTIN

1 Dispatched 18 February (on file AA:A816, 52/302/142).It
requested a 'clear the line' reply to the request in Document 341,
paragraph 1(7), that the 7th Division should be sent to Burma.

2 See War Cabinet minute 1896 of 18 February in AA:A2673, vol. 10.

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

4 Commander, 1 Australian Corps. His cablegram OPX 01492 of 18
February is on file Australian War Memorial: A2663, Army
Headquarters, 541/1/4.


[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.5088]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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