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417 Mr Clement Attlee, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 318 LONDON, 17 March 1942, 8.50 [p.m.]


Following for Prime Minister from Prime Minister [1] begins.

I had not realised till I saw Sir Earle Page's cable to you [2]
that he had led you to expect a telegram from me in addition to
the summary which was sent to you of the President's proposals for
dividing the commands. [3] I was not in a position to send you
definite advice till our staffs had considered the proposals and I
had myself clarified some points with the President.

I was expecting to receive your impressions and have only now
learned that you were expecting to hear further from me. However,
no time has been lost because it was necessary to examine these
proposals very carefully. I have now telegraphed to the President
on the main issue as in my immediately following telegram. [4]

2. I wish here and now, however, to make the following plain to
you. The fact that an American commander will be in charge of all
the operations in the Pacific Area will not be regarded by His
Majesty's Government as in any way absolving them from their
determination and duty to stand to your aid to the best of their
ability, and if you are actually invaded in force, which has by no
means come to pass and may never come to pass, we shall do our
utmost to divert British troops and British ships rounding the
Cape or already in the Indian Ocean to your succour, albeit at the
expense of India and the Middle East. Ends. [5]

1 Winston Churchill.

2 Document 393.

3 For the summary of Franklin D. Roosevelt's proposals see
Documents 410-11.

4 See cablegram 319 of 17 March on file AA:A2937, Far East
position 1942.

5 Curtin acknowledged Churchill's assurances of support on 20
March. See cablegram 210 on file AA:A816, 52/302/142.

[AA:A3195, 1942, 1.11098]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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