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79 Churchill to Curtin

Cablegram Winch 28 LONDON, 24 November 1942, 10.35 a.m.


Your Johcu 45 [1] and President Roosevelt's telegram 1st November.

[2] We recognise of course that the withdrawal of the 9th
Australian Division from the Mediterranean theatre rests with the
Commonwealth Government. However the United States forces are now
heavily engaged both in helping to defend Australia and in
mastering French North Africa as a prelude to further action in
Europe. They are therefore entitled to have the opportunity of
considering the position as a whole and of making any
representations to you which they may think desirable.

2. It seems probable that the Eastern Mediterranean will be the
scene of large scale action in the early spring and the position
of Turkey is of peculiar interest. If the 9th Australian Division
is withdrawn to Australia, it will, of course, have to be replaced
in the Middle East either by British or American forces. In the
present acute and aggravated shipping stringency it will be
necessary to save tonnage as much as possible. For instance it
might be most economical to move one of the American divisions in
Australia or destined for the Pacific direct to Suez, where they
could pick up the 9th Australian Division on the return journey.

There might be no other way of maintaining the necessary strength
in the Middle East. On the other hand it might be possible to
carry the Australians away from the Middle East as an isolated
shipping operation.

This again would have to be at the expense of our general power to
move troops about the world and would have to be considered in
relation to the dominating military exigencies. The matter is one
on which the Combined Chiefs of Staff at Washington who alone have
the central point of view should in the first instance advise.

3. So far as we are concerned we shall of course not oppose your
wishes, although we greatly regret the departure from the Middle
East theatre of a division which has rendered distinguished
service. The object should be to bring the greatest number of the
United Nations divisions into contact with the enemy, and
certainly it would appear more helpful to the common cause if
fresh troops were moved from the United States into the Pacific
and into action against Japan than that troops already engaged
with the enemy in another part of the world should be withdrawn.

4. As I know the great importance which you have always attached
to American opinion and how much you value the substantial aid
they have given to the defence of Australia, I feel bound to put
these points before you.


1 See Document 76, note 12.

2 Document 68.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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