227 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 137 LONDON, 26 December 1941, 9.26 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Your telegram 820O. [1] Have passed your telegram to the President and the Prime Minister [2] to the United Kingdom Govt. as also Bennett's [3] and Bowden's communications. [4] Page [5] and I are doing everything possible here. With regard to the specific points in paragraphs 6 and 7 of your telegram to Page [6]:

(a) The British Division referred to in paragraph 6 is being diverted to the Far East. It has been decided after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief, Far East [7], that one brigade group is to proceed direct to Singapore, the balance of the division going to Bombay. Equipment of this division complete, but the brigade group going direct will arrive without mechanical transport.

(b) Paragraph 7 (1)-yes.

(c) In addition to the forces referred to in (a) and (b) proposed to send two divisions from the Middle East to the Far East, possibly for service in Sumatra, although they would need to be employed in accordance with the requirements of the situation at the time. Alternatives are one Australian division and one Indian division or two Australian divisions.

Approach to you on this point awaiting reply from Washington which is hourly expected to the broad picture sent from here. This picture envisages progressive reinforcement of the Far East by troop movements eastwards, i.e. divisions from the Middle East to the Far East, replaced by divisions from the United Kingdom, replacement of these divisions by American divisions from the United States.

This suggestion in addition to meaning the common utilisation of British and American forces has the advantage of utilising highly- trained British divisions in combat areas and enabling the United States divisions to obtain additional training which it is felt they need.

Immediately reply received from Washington, I will further advise you.

BRUCE

1 See Document 217, note 1.

2 Curtin's cablegram to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill is published as Document 214.

3 It is not clear whether Bruce regarded the views expressed in V.

G. Bowden's cablegram 73 (Document 217) as having come also from Bennett or whether he is referring to Curtin's cablegram Johcu 10 (Document 208).

4 See Document 217, note 1.

5 Special Representative in the United Kingdom.

6 Document 220.

7 Air Chief Marshal Sir Robert Brooke-Popham.

[AA:A981, WAR 33, ATTACHMENT B]