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69 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 179[A] LONDON, 1 November 1942, 8.36 p.m.


My telegram 178[A]. [1]

No further information yet obtained as to why telegram from Chief
of the Imperial General Staff to the Commander-in-Chief referred
to in my telegram No. 173[A] [2] had apparently not reached the
Commander-in-Chief when Morshead saw him on October 27th. [3]

The Chief of the Imperial General Staff's telegram was despatched
on 23rd October and advised the Commander-in-Chief that no further
reinforcements were coming forward for the 9th Division and that
the Division was not to be broken up. It did not preclude the
Commander-in-Chief from utilising the Division within these limits
in the present offensive. Such utilisation was foreshadowed in my
telegram No. 171[A] of 20th October [4] and is referred to in
paragraph (2) of Winch No. 26. [5] I am, however, not quite clear
as to your attitude with regard to the utilisation of the Division
and in order to avoid any misunderstanding I set out below the
position as I see it.

1. Owing to the situation in the South-Western Pacific and of

Australian manpower, you felt it necessary to require the return
of the 9th Division to Australia.

2. This decision you conveyed in your telegram 461 of 17th October
to the Dominions Office in which you set out fully the reasons
that had led you to take it. [6]

3. When this telegram arrived, the offensive which is now
proceeding and in which the 9th Division has been allocated a
vital role was on the eve of being launched.

4. The withdrawal of the 9th Division would at this stage have
meant the abandonment of the operation.

5. The imminence of this operation I conveyed to you in my
telegram No. 171[A] of 20th October, and in your 9684 of 22nd
October [7] you stressed that in the use of the Division, the
Commander-in-Chief should have regard to the fact that no further
reinforcements were being sent.

6. The position now is that the offensive has been launched with
initial success, in considerable measure due to the work of the
9th Division.

7. Alexander in his conversation with Morshead has made it clear
that the retention of the 9th Division in the operations is
essential to their continued success.

8. In view of this and the paramount importance of the present
operations in the Middle East I am presuming that you agree to the
continued utilisation of the 9th Division until such time as the
operational situation permits its withdrawal with a view to its
return to Australia and subject to the same conditions as in
respect to the original offensive, i.e. that the Commander-in-
Chief in using it has regard to the fact that no further
reinforcements will be sent from Australia and that the Division
must not be broken up.

Please advise urgently whether my interpretation of your attitude
is correct.


1 See Document 67, note 5.

2 See Document 64, note 4.

3 See Document 67.

4 Document 63.

5 See Document 66, note 2.

6 Document 62.

7 Document 64.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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