466 Mr Clement Attlee, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr John Curtin, Prime Minister

Cablegram 367 LONDON, 15 April 1942, 11.55 p.m.

SECRET & PERSONAL

Following for Prime Minister [from Prime Minister] [1]:

1. Your No.245. [2]

I am very much obliged to you for your decision to allow the Australian 9th Division to remain in Middle East for the present.

All the contents of your telegram are being studied by the Chiefs of Staff. It is fully understood and was certainly my wish that United States Forces should go to Australia unconditionally and you have always been and will be perfectly free to decide the movement of all your troops.

2. We are, of course, trying to build up as fast as possible a strong naval force in the Indian Ocean. The very considerable detachment which the enemy has presumed to make from his main fleet for the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal makes it undesirable for us to seek a fleet action for the time being, but these conditions will change rapidly in the next few months.

VALIANT should join Admiral Somerville [3] in June, ILLUSTRIOUS in May, and we are planning still larger reinforcements of which I will inform you soon. Meanwhile, of course, we are anxious both about Ceylon and Calcutta.

1 Winston Churchill. Inserted from the London Copy Oil file PRO:DO 35/1010, iii.

2 Document 465. Earlier on 15 April Attlee had advised Churchill that Bruce had suggested 'that a quick reply clinching the agreement in paragraph 4 [of cablegram 245] ... would be useful'.

See note in PRO:DO 35/1010, iii.

3 Commander-in-Chief, U.K. Eastern Fleet.

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