441 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, to Dr H. V. Evatt, Minister for External Affairs (in Washington)

Cablegram E3 LONDON, 25 March 1942

IMMEDIATE PERSONAL FOR EVATT

Many thanks your telegram No. 39. [1] No further developments here with regard to Russia.

Reference CHURCHILL-I agree importance of improving feeling in Australia towards him qua Prime Minister. I believe possibility of achieving this greatly depends upon your visit.

The immediate steps which I understand you to suggest are- (1) The release for six weeks by the United Kingdom to Australia of all items urgently required by us included in United Kingdom allocation from U.S.A. production.

(2) Agreement to the immediate return to Australia of the 9th Division.

With regard to (1) I am having a full statement prepared as to the position of releases to Australia by the United Kingdom from their U.S.A. allocation which I hope to telegraph you tomorrow. Until this statement is completed it is difficult to judge the significance or probable effect of the gesture you suggest.

With regard to (2) the attitude of the President is of importance.

in the President's telegram of March 8th to Churchill he makes the despatch of the two additional U.S.A. Divisions dependent on the Australian and New Zealand Divisions remaining in the Middle East to economise shipping. [2]

If the utilisation of shipping to take the Australian Divisions home precluded the sending of any American Divisions to Australia (which has been suggested to me but which I am not in a position to check) thus reducing the forces in Australia and the Middle East, taken together, by a Division-or if New Zealand Division also returned by two Divisions President may well have strong views on matter.

Do you know or can you ascertain what the President's attitude is? I suggest it is desirable that this point should be cleared up before I make any move with the Prime Minister down lines of your telegram.

BRUCE

1 Document 438.

2 See Document 428, in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt's cablegram is quoted.

[AA:A2937, PAR EAST POSITION 1942]