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

Cablegram P64 LONDON, 10 March 1942, 2.32 a.m.


At War Cabinet tonight I raised the question that, as Australia
was regarded as a vital base for offensive against Japan, it must
be reinforced as quickly as possible or it might be lost.

2. I pointed out that Australia differed from India in that there
were already in existence several divisions of fully-trained
Australian troops, but that these were not properly and fully
equipped with aircraft, guns, tanks, etc., that these should
receive highest priority for equipment over all other needs in
view of the possibility of early attack and quoted your telegram
No. 176 [1] and used its arguments. I pointed out the certainty of
being able to hold Australia if so reinforced as compared with
India whose basic circumstances were not so favourable.

3. I thanked the British Government for giving us priority over
their own requirements in certain items as listed in My 2040 [2]
and especially in respect of their American releases.

4. Churchill said he had been in touch with Roosevelt on the whole
question of war strategy, that Roosevelt was seized with the
importance of defence of Australia but insisted on the intimate
connection between the Australian and the Middle East and Indian
Ocean theatres because the latter two might be the only doors
through which aid could reach Russia and China and so assist final

5. Accordingly the President had made the offer which Churchill
has telegraphed you of not merely sending the 41st American
Division to Australia immediately but also one further division to
Australia and one to New Zealand if the 9th Australian Division
and the New Zealand Division could be left in the Middle East to
hold the position there. [3] This arrangement would secure a very
great saving of shipping and transfer of troops and would, in
fact, make available additional [American shipping to take two
British Divisions from the United Kingdom to the Middle East

6. If your Government agrees to this proposal, in addition to the
32,000 Americans already in Australia as reported in your 162 [4]
there would be two additional American Divisions located there.

Australia would then become the principal overseas American front,
and for that reason would be certain to receive very high priority
of all military supplies from United States. I would therefore
urge your very serious consideration of the President's proposal.]

7. Roosevelt has also promised Churchill to endeavour to increase
United States Naval Forces in the Anzac Area.

8. Churchill said that he would at once make contact with the
President along the lines of your telegram No. 176 and ask that
the shipping you are making available should be loaded fully with
your urgent requirements if it was at all possible. In the
meantime, Bruce [6] and I have both seen Attlee [7] and received
his sympathetic co-operation along every path that can be used to
improve your supply position in Australia.


1 See Document 400, note 9.

2 Dispatched 5 March (AA:A3195, 1942, 1.9496).

3 See Document 428, paragraph 1.

4 Not found.

5 Inserted from the London copy On file AA:M100, March 1942.

6 High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

7 U.K. Dominions Secretary.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.10027, 1.10039]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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