7 Curtin to Churchill
Cablegram Johcu 37 (extracts) CANBERRA, 16 July 1942
MOST IMMEDIATE MOST SECRET
1. You will recall from cablegram No. 245 of 14th April  that
the Government expressed the view that all Australian troops
abroad should be returned to Australia, but it was prepared to
agree to the postponement of the return of the 9th Division until
it could be replaced in the Middle East and the necessary shipping
could be provided.
[A statistical summary of Australian troops in the Middle East has
5. It will be noted that the reinforcements available provide for
only one and a half months' wastage on the basis of intense
activity. When these are exhausted the Division, if still engaged
in active operations, will have to be withdrawn from the line of
battle. If it were to remain in action with units of reduced
strength, its morale would be affected. Alternatively, it might be
maintained at strength by breaking up units of Corps troops, Base
and L. of C.  organisations. This would also create discontent.
6. In view of the original decision for the return of the A.I.F.
to Australia, I foresee considerable difficulties in the despatch
of further reinforcements from Australia. Most of the A.I.F. have
returned and are at battle stations, the two brigades from Ceylon
are en route and the general expectation is that the 9th Division
is also to come. Also, as stated in paragraph 5 of cablegram No.
245, the 9th Division cannot be retained abroad indefinitely
without its morale being affected.
7. Notwithstanding the respite granted by the Coral Sea action, it
is possible, though I know you do not think it probable, for Japan
to invade Australia in force until superiority in naval and air
power is established in the Pacific.
8. Had Japan been an enemy in 1939, the needs of Australian
Defence and the campaign in the Pacific would not have permitted
troops from Australia proceeding beyond Malaya. I now think, from
all points of view, that the concentration of the A.I.F. in
Australia for home defence and for participation with our American
Allies in offensive action against Japan, when this becomes
possible, is the best manner in which we can cooperate. We are
also continuing our part in the Empire Air Training Scheme, in
which we have 8,000 personnel abroad. In addition, we are manning
certain ships and supplying personnel to the Royal Navy, the
present number being 2,700.
9. I am putting the matter frankly to you in a personal manner.
With the 9th Division in action the subject must arise in the
immediate future, and I would like to have your views before it is
considered by War Cabinet.
1 Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. V, Document
2 Lines of communication.