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82 Bruce to Curtin

Cablegram 196[A] LONDON, 25 November 1942, 2.40 p.m.



My telegram 193[A] [1] and Winch 28. [2]

At War Cabinet meeting on Monday evening the question of the
return of the 9th Division was referred to but only incidentally
by the Prime Minister and while he said that he was not very happy
about the move and necessity of providing the shipping involved
the assumption behind his observations was that the wishes of the
Australian Government had to be respected and that necessary
arrangements for transport of the Division were being proceeded

No discussion took place in War Cabinet on the matter. I was
somewhat surprised at the line the Prime Minister took as I had
heard unofficially just before going to the meeting that the
President was very perturbed at the prospect of the return of the
9th Division to Australia and at the utilization of shipping
involved. I also understood that being so perturbed about the
matter the President had referred your letter to him [3] to the
Combined Chiefs of Staff. I had imagined that the President would
have conveyed to the Prime Minister the views he held and my
anticipation was when the Prime Minister raised the question of
the 9th Division in Cabinet he was going to elaborate the position
down the lines that a further appeal should be made to the
Australian Government to reconsider their decision. He however did
not take this line, but his observations were an acquiescence,
even if a somewhat reluctant one, in the return of the Division. I
was accordingly somewhat surprised, after the episode in War
Cabinet on Monday night, to see Winch 28. This communication the
Prime Minister did not discuss with me and, in fact, I have only
seen a copy of it within the last hour.

My own appreciation of the position is that Winch 28 was framed
after discussion with the President, the contact between the
President and Prime Minister being very close, much of it being
conducted by the dangerous medium of wireless telephone.

My impression is that both the President and Prime Minister are
very opposed to the withdrawal of the 9th Division. The Prime
Minister however was not prepared to raise the issue with you.

Now, however, fortified by the President's attitude he has decided
to do so, but basing himself to a considerable extent upon
American views and wishes.

My anticipation is that you will receive, if you have not already
done so, a communication from the President based on a report he
will have received from the Combined Chiefs of Staff, making a
further request to you with regard to the Division. [4]

On the Chiefs of Staff level here the position is that examination
of provision of necessary shipping is proceeding on the basis of
the return of both the Australian and New Zealand Divisions.

One disturbing factor is emerging in this examination. I gather
that the transport people and Navy, in regard to escorts, are
taking the line that the only practicable method of providing
necessary shipping would be by utilization of giant liners. As
these liners have little cargo space such utilization would mean
that only personnel could be carried and the Division's equipment
would have to be left in the Middle East. I understand that the
view is taken that utilization of giant liners would be necessary
even if priority were given to the 9th Division over the New
Zealand Division (your telegram 10746 [5]).


1 Dispatched 21 November. On file AA:A4763. It advised Curtin that
the decision to return the 9th Division had been complicated by
the N.Z. Govt's appeal for the return of its 2nd Division.

2 Document 79.

3 Document 76.

4 See Document 85.

5 Dispatched 24 November. On the file cited in note 1. It warned
Bruce that the request for the return of the N.Z. Division must
not be allowed to delay or prejudice the return of the 9th
Division, which should be given priority.

Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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