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

Cablegram 47 [1] CANBERRA, 20 March 1942

MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET

1. Reference your P. 64 [2], relative to 9th Division it has been
necessary to consider many aspects, including naval and air,
relating to the defence of Australia and you will be further
advised as soon as possible.

2. It is noted that you say the President [3], while seized with
the importance of the defence of Australia, insisted on the
intimate connection between the Australian and the Mid East and
Indian Ocean theatres, and accordingly desires the 9th Division to
remain in the Mid East.

3. If you refer to Dominions Office Cablegram No. 311 of 10th
March [4], containing the President's message, you will note that
he says 'We also agree that the Australian and New Zealand
Divisions now in that region should remain.'
4. Your information would appear open to some doubt as Churchill
would appear to have made some representations to the President on
the subject and this, notwithstanding that our cablegram No. 160
of 2nd March [5] offering the two brigade groups of the 6th
Division for Ceylon stated that it was made on the understanding
that the 9th Division will return to Australia under proper escort
as soon as possible. This was, of course, subsequent to the
original suggestion for the return of the A.I.F. made by Churchill
in the House of Commons on 27th January [6] and the request of the
Australian Government which was dated 17th February. [7]

CURTIN

1 Curtin instructed Bruce to see Page's copy of this cablegram
(see cablegram 2352 of 20 March on file AA:M100, March 1942).

2 Document 402.

3 Franklin D. Roosevelt.

4 See Document 428, note 1.

5 Document 385.

6 Churchill had said: 'We shall not put any obstacle to there turn
of the splendid Australian troops who volunteered for Imperial
service to defend their own homeland or whatever part of the
Pacific theatre may be thought most expedient.' See House of
Commons, Parliamentary Debates, 5th series, vol. 377, col. 614.

7 Document 336.


[AA:A3196, 1942, 0.08016]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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