355 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister
Cablegram 330 WASHINGTON, 21 February 1942, 12.12 a.m.
MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET
The President asks me in hand-written note to transmit message to
the Prime Minister.
No. 72. Personal and secret for Prime Minister Curtin from the
I fully appreciate how grave are your responsibilities in reaching
a decision in the present serious circumstances as to the
disposition of the first Australian division returning from the
I assume you know now of our determination to send, in addition to
all troops and forces now en route, another force of over 27,000
men to Australia. This force will be fully equipped in every
We must fight to the limit for our two flanks-one based on
Australia and the other on Burma, India and China. Because of our
geographical position we Americans can better handle the
reinforcement of Australia and the right flank.
I say this to you so that you may have every confidence that we
are going to reinforce your position with all possible speed.
Moreover, the operations which the United States Navy have begun
and have in view will in a measure constitute a protection to the
coasts of Australia and New Zealand. On the other hand the left
flank simply must be held. If Burma goes it seems to me our whole
position, including that of Australia, will be extremely strained.
Your Australian division is the only force that is available for
immediate reinforcement. It could get into the fight at once and
would, I believe, have strength to save what now seems a very
While I realize the Japanese are moving rapidly I cannot believe
that, in view of your geographical position and forces on their
way to you or operating in your neighbourhood, your vital centres
are in immediate danger.
While I realize that your men have been fighting all over the
world, and are still, and while I know full well of great
sacrifices which Australia has made, I nevertheless want to ask
you in the interest of our whole war effort in the Far East if you
will reconsider your decision and order the division now en route
to Australia to move with all speed to support the British forces
fighting in Burma.
You may be sure we will fight by your side with all our force
until victory. Roosevelt.
[AA:A981, WAR 33, i]