68 Roosevelt to Curtin

Dispatch [310740] [1] WASHINGTON, [28 October 1942, 7.30 p.m.]

MOST SECRET AND PERSONAL MOST IMMEDIATE

I have carefully reviewed your letter regarding the Strength of armed forces in Australia which was presented to me through the Department of State on 18th October, 1942. [2]

I appreciate the anxiety of your Government concerning the absence of forces in the Middle East. I am, however, convinced that our common cause can best be served if the 9th A.I.F. Division is allowed to remain in the Middle East.

I realize of course that the message to me was a copy of a similar message to Prime Minister Churchill and I am aware that his answer to you may be from an entirely different point of view. [3] However I am prepared to offer a means to ameliorate not only Australia's present position but the position in that area of the United Nations as well.

It will be possible to despatch a United States division to Australia from Hawaii. This is a readjustment in the Pacific which I feel is justified in the existing situation. However it must be appreciated that the situation may develop in such a manner as to require the diversion of this additional division for Australia to another locality within the South or South-West Pacific Areas where its employment will be of greater advantage to the defence of Australia.

I assume that sending this division will obviate the necessity for the Australian War Council to call back the 9th A.I.F. Division from the Middle East. I cannot too strongly stress that leaving the 9th A.I.F. Division in the Middle East will best serve our common cause.

ROOSEVELT

1 Dispatched through U.S. Navy channels. Information in square brackets has been inserted from the copy and associated papers in Franklin D. Roosevelt Library: Roosevelt Papers, Map Room, miscellaneous Presidential dispatches, box 12.

2 Published as Document 62.

3 In fact Churchill did not reply directly to cablegram 461 (Document 62). On 2 November Bruce advised that the U.K. Chiefs of Staff had deferred action on the return of the 9th Division until the Commonwealth Govt's reaction to Roosevelt's message was known.

See cablegram 180[A] on file AA:A4763.

[AA:A4763]