206 Curtin to Fraser

Cablegram 100 CANBERRA, 1 June 1943


Your High Commissioner has acquainted me with the decision of your Parliament regarding the retention of your Division in the Middle East. [1] As this represents the will of the New Zealand people, I do not presume to offer any opinion on the conclusion reached. It does not, however, alter the facts:-

(1) That the immediate defence of New Zealand is in the Pacific Ocean and the concentration of enemy strength is being made in the islands to the north of Australia, which is between the enemy and New Zealand. If we had not insisted on the return of the A.I.F., New Guinea would have been lost and we would have now been fighting on the mainland of Australia.

(ii) For every soldier New Zealand keeps away from the Pacific theatre, either an Australian or American has to fill his place.

(iii) Australia has rendered substantial material aid to increase and sustain the war effort of New Zealand on the basis of our common defence in the Pacific. This has, in effect, amounted to an export of our limited manpower.

(iv) It would appear to have been much preferable to have had the Conference suggested by you to the High Commissioner before this important decision was taken. In view of the set-up which governs global strategy and operations in the respective theatres and the machinery in London and Washington on which the various Governments are represented, it is not apparent what can be achieved by a conference between the representatives mentioned, particularly as the Commanders of the South and South-West Pacific Areas are not directly responsible to the New Zealand and Australian Governments.


1 See the N.Z. Govt's cablegrams 43-4 of 22 May on file Defence:

MP1217, box 295, Retention of New Zealand division in the Middle East. Cablegram 43 pointed out that in agreeing to the decision members of the N.Z. Parliament had 'found themselves torn between conflicting thoughts and emotions', as they had had to weigh the Commonwealth Govt's desire for the return of the division against the advice of Churchill, Roosevelt and Freyberg that it should stay in the Middle East.