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Historical documents

70 Curtin to Bruce

Cablegram 10111 CANBERRA, 4 November 1942


Reference your No. 179 [1] I agree with your interpretation of our
attitude, in view of the situation with which we are now
confronted, but it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the
necessary reinforcements cannot be despatched from Australia to
maintain the Division abroad for the reasons given in cablegram
No. 461 to the Dominions Office. [2] The Government views the use
of the Division in the present offensive as absolutely governed by
the fulfilment of the conditions laid down by it some time ago.

[3] As stated in Johcu No. 43 [4], we are relying on the Division
being returned in good shape and strength otherwise it will soon
cease to be a fully effective fighting unit. 2. For your strictly
personal information I find it very difficult to reconcile the
statements by the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, to Major
General Morshead regarding the important role allotted to the 9th
Division in the offensive with the observance of the steps
necessary to give effect to our repeated requests for the return
of the Division. For example, in planning the operation, it is
presumed that the Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, would have
noted that the use of the 9th Division had an important tag to it
which might require clarification. On the other hand, if he fully
realised the limitations on the use of the Division, there can be
no doubt that the position is fully understood by him. However,
his remarks to Morshead do not indicate that he was aware of it. I
would also like to know whether the impending operation was
discussed in War Cabinet with you and whether similar questions
arose there. [5]

1 Document 69.

2 Document 62.

3 It is not clear whether this reference is to the cablegram
conveying the original decision to leave the 9th Division in the
Middle East (Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol.

IV, Document 465) or to the cablegram published as Document 64.

4 Document 66.

5 Bruce replied on 7 November that he could not obtain any
satisfactory explanation as to why the Commander-in-Chief Middle
East, did not appear to have been informed of the Commonwealth
Govt's views on the 9th Division, but he doubted the wisdom of
pursuing the matter. Bruce also advised that the matter had not
been discussed in War Cabinet. See cablegram 187[A] on file

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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