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68 Roosevelt to Curtin

Dispatch [310740] [1] WASHINGTON, [28 October 1942, 7.30 p.m.]


I have carefully reviewed your letter regarding the Strength of
armed forces in Australia which was presented to me through the
Department of State on 18th October, 1942. [2]

I appreciate the anxiety of your Government concerning the absence
of forces in the Middle East. I am, however, convinced that our
common cause can best be served if the 9th A.I.F. Division is
allowed to remain in the Middle East.

I realize of course that the message to me was a copy of a similar
message to Prime Minister Churchill and I am aware that his answer
to you may be from an entirely different point of view. [3]
However I am prepared to offer a means to ameliorate not only
Australia's present position but the position in that area of the
United Nations as well.

It will be possible to despatch a United States division to
Australia from Hawaii. This is a readjustment in the Pacific which
I feel is justified in the existing situation. However it must be
appreciated that the situation may develop in such a manner as to
require the diversion of this additional division for Australia to
another locality within the South or South-West Pacific Areas
where its employment will be of greater advantage to the defence
of Australia.

I assume that sending this division will obviate the necessity for
the Australian War Council to call back the 9th A.I.F. Division
from the Middle East. I cannot too strongly stress that leaving
the 9th A.I.F. Division in the Middle East will best serve our
common cause.


1 Dispatched through U.S. Navy channels. Information in square
brackets has been inserted from the copy and associated papers in
Franklin D. Roosevelt Library: Roosevelt Papers, Map Room,
miscellaneous Presidential dispatches, box 12.

2 Published as Document 62.

3 In fact Churchill did not reply directly to cablegram 461
(Document 62). On 2 November Bruce advised that the U.K. Chiefs of
Staff had deferred action on the return of the 9th Division until
the Commonwealth Govt's reaction to Roosevelt's message was known.

See cablegram 180[A] on file AA:A4763.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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